Former secretary to the cabinet Dr Sketchley Sacika says enhanced austerity measures being advanced by the current Secretary to the Cabinet are an exercise in futility if President Edgar Lungu feels exempt from the exercise.
In a cabinet office circular number 12 of 2019 dated September 10, Dr Simon Miti announced increased austerity measures such as the travel ban for senior officials from government and quasi government institutions, harmonization of salaries and conditions of service for statutory bodies and grant aided institutions and management of the public service wage bill, among others.
But in an interview, Dr Sacika said these enhanced measures were destined to fail if President Lungu did not lead by example.
“No, they will not bear any fruit; they are an exercise in utter futility. The philosophy of leadership is simple, leaders must lead by example and this is an obligation leaders must undertake. If a leader is not prepared to make the sacrifices needed or required of him in a given situation then the battle will be lost. It’s as simple as that. Leaders must lead by example. A nation where leaders are honest and hardworking will produce honest and hardworking citizens, on the other hand, a nation where leaders are corrupt and lazy, that nation will produce corrupt and dishonest people. Leadership imposes obligations that are beyond managing of cash because ordinary people ourselves, look to what our leaders do. What Dr Miti is trying to achieve will never materialize if the leadership of the country, in other words, our President feels that he is exempt from the austerity measures that are being taken,” Dr Sacika said.
“From my experience as former secretary to the cabinet; presidential travels and engagements within and outside the country are a very expensive affair. When the president travels, he doesn’t travel alone like a permanent secretary or a minister, the president travels with a whole entourage of security, protocol officers and on, the people who work in the background. And that consumes a tremendous amount of money as opposed to one minister or permanent secretary travelling around.”
Meanwhile, Dr Sacika charged that President Lungu was being dishonest by attributing most challenges which the country was facing to climate change saying he was trying to run away from the inadequacies of his own government.
“The President was not being honest; I think he was trying to pull wool over our eyes. There are many things that climatic change can be blamed for, for example in the southern province, in western province they didn’t have rains and therefore they were not able to produce maize or whatever they eat. That the President himself has said that the country is not in deficit as far as food or grain is concerned and he has refused to declare a state of emergency to assure that outsiders can help us, so how can he at the same time…he has refused in other words he says that everything is okay. How can he at the same time attribute the problems we are going through towards climate change? That was disingenuous; I think the President was trying to run away from the inadequacies of his own government, of his own policies,” said Dr Sacika.