UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema says the civil service is riddled with highly incompetent PF cadres with questionable qualifications who will be fired when he forms government.

And Hichilema says although there will be no single serving minister who will be reappointed under the UPND government, people must expect him to work with some of them who have institutional memory to help him run government.

In a post on his official Facebook Page, Hichilema said the civil service must attract excellence and people with the capacity to carry out duties for the benefit of their employers who are the citizens of Zambia.

“We must bear in mind that there is a civil service in place. Our initial assessment of the calibre of many who are employed in the civil service, is that most are actually sound. There has however, been problems with regards to politicization of key roles such as Directors and Permanent Secretaries. A significant number of Directors and Permanent Secretaries will have to be evaluated based on their competencies, performance and record. We certainly intend to inject new blood in such roles and candidates are already in the bureaucracy. Some will, of course, come from outside government. We will not fire anyone for political reasons but rather, the choice of those who stay or go, will be based on merit. Most good civil servants will stay, even though they were engaged through the PF,” Hichilema wrote.

“This may be disconcerting to many but we have to be inclusive and objective. It is no secret that the civil service is riddled with highly incompetent PF cadres with questionable qualifications. Those are undoubtedly going. It is also not a secret that the civil service is not a reflection of the diversity of our country. It must be balanced by various tribes, youths, gender and other groups. The Public Service Management Division, the HR department of the government will conduct an audit to ensure that not only do we have competent and qualified people, it will erase the corrupt phenomenon of “Ghost workers.” The civil service must attract excellence and people with the capacity to carry out duties for the benefit of their employers, the citizens of Zambia,”

Hichilema said foreign missions must be occupied with officials who were appointed on merit.

“With regards to the Foreign missions/Diplomatic service, like the rest of the civil service, it is all about merit and not who is Bally’s friend, relative or tribes mate. Our foreign missions must be occupied by High Commissioners, Ambassadors and officers who are appointed on merit and who can fulfil our diplomatic, trade and economic objectives with absolute excellence. We are highly rigorous when vetting people for roles in the central bank and other important statutory bodies and the diplomatic service must be no different. History has shown that relatives, cadres and friends have graced our foreign missions, but this phenomenon will come to an end. A professional diplomatic service will also facilitate better consular services. This provides a background on our intentions with the civil service and more light will be shed in our manifesto that we shall launch in due course,” he said.

Hichilema gave an insight of what his government planned to do when he formed government.

“Last week, I had the privilege of engaging with citizens on my Twitter page, where I addressed a number of questions. One matter that kept coming up from numerous citizens, was the issue of the composition of our government, when we assume office next year. I deliberately did not address it but promised to provide detailed feedback on my thoughts and basis for the decisions we will make regarding the composition of the cabinet and many other crucial positions. I have addressed these issues in past engagements but I’m happy to shed more light. Understandably, many of you are hoping that I’ll list names and corresponding roles and positions. Unfortunately, not now, but allow me to provide some context and the foundation for the formation of your government from 2021 to 2026. Firstly, our team must be a reflection of our key objectives for the first term of office, which include: turning around the economy, economic diversification, strengthening institutions, strengthening our democracy, national unity, quality education, quality healthcare and restoring the rule of law,” Hichilema wrote.

“These objectives among others, are anchored on the goal to raise the standards of living for all Zambians. Points 1 and 2 will produce quality jobs and increase the participation of Zambians across our economy, enabling the creation of local wealth. Point 3 provides for better oversight, discipline, prudence and the fight against corruption. Point 4 will enable free speech, a free press, judicial independence, as well as the independence of the Electoral Commission of Zambia. Point 5 tackles tribalism and ensures there is diversity of tribe, gender and the youth in our government, where no one will be marginalised. Points 6 and 7 address our goal to invest in human capital and point 8 involves developing independent institutions that are devoid of political influence, ensuring that the three arms of government are independent and effectively execute their mandate. The above is our agenda and with this background, it will be necessary to have in place a sound team to execute,”

He said the UPND would not adopt any minister from the current PF government to serve in a ministerial position.

“I have heard many of you say that you do not want “recycled politicians” and I certainly understand why. While most of the people in the next government will be new, understand that there are some former Ministers from previous governments with a wealth of experience and capacity that we will certainly call on. This should not disappoint you because the few who have served in government before, have institutional memory and experience that we certainly need. The ones I have in mind have my full confidence and I have no doubt that they will serve diligently in our government,” Hichilema said.

He said he would announce his vice-president in due course.

“Regarding your next Vice-President and the other is concerning why it is also necessary that we withhold the identity of some of your future Ministers. My running mate, should the party allow me to be the 2021 Presidential candidate, will be a person who would be ready to assume the Presidency should anything happen to me. I am fortunate to have great options and consultations are on-going. This is not a matter that should be rushed to be announced, even if my mind is made up now. I can give an example of the US election, scheduled for this November, where the incumbent’s challenger, Joe Biden is yet to announce his running mate within months of the election. This practice is not uncommon, but I can assure you that you will not be disappointed. His/Her name will be withheld for now and so will the names of the desired Ministers,” said Hichilema.