SPECIAL Assistant to the President for Press and Public Relations Isaac Chipampe says President Edgar Lungu appoints people based on their competence to perform duties and that it is just a coincidence that he appointed permanent secretaries from only two regions.

And Chipampe says whenever tribe becomes an issue for consideration, quality is compromised.

On Thursday, former Attorney General Musa Mwenye State Counsel said unbalanced appointments which did not reflect a sensitivity to regional balancing were always problematic.

But in an interview, Chipampe said it was just a coincidence because President Lungu was not tribal.

“If the names are coinciding with tribe, it is a coincidence. If the names are similar or they come from a certain region of Zambia, it may just be a coincidence. And we should not forget that there are lot of inter-marriages that are happening in this country and some of these people you see as Mbewe may not be from Eastern Province, you find Mbewe is actually Lozi because of these inter-marriages. President Lungu grew up in a cosmopolitan setup on the Copperbelt and Lusaka. So he is not preoccupied with some of these things people want to portray him to be, that he is tribal. If he was tribal I don’t think he would even have been speaking Bemba because he speaks more Bemba than Nsenga, he also speaks several other languages,” Chipampe said.

“He is the President of all Zambians. And when he is making appointments, he doesn’t look at where Julia is coming from, he doesn’t look at where Joseph Mwenda comes from, he doesn’t look at that. What he looks at is people who are competent enough to perform duties that will make him realise his vision. So he brings together Zambians from all walks of life, from all regions who he strongly believes that they can contribute to realizing his dream to develop Zambia.”

And Chipampe said quality was compromised when people focused on tribe.

“So the issue of race, religion, tribe does not come in when he is making these appointments. He is not preoccupied with tribe, race, religion. He is preoccupied with appointing Zambians who are able to perform in the various offices they are interested in. So the issue of tribe for him does not arise. They are not coming from two regions, do you know where Ngulube comes from? Do you know his father or mother? You don’t know them. We don’t know whether the mother is from Southern Province. Because when I was appointed I don’t think I was asked where my mother comes from. We have so many tribes. So we are wasting our time to preoccupy ourselves with tribe, that is the President’s point. It is so sad that people want to always want think of which region and because of that kind of thinking, you compromise on quality, that is what happens. Just because there is no Easterner and I have to include an Easterner and I get anybody who cannot even perform. So we need to be very careful with this thing called tribalism. So that is the President’s thinking,” said Chipampe.

Responding to a press query from Diggers, seeking his clarity on whether the Head of State was not at liberty to appoint people from regions of his choice, Mwenye said the constitution demanded that where any appointments or nominations were made, regional balancing must be done.

“The constitution demands that where any appointments or nominations are made, regional balancing must be done. Zambia has 10 provinces which are situated in the northern region, eastern region, central region, western region and southern region. There is a worrying trend of having the bulk of appointments coming from only two regions. Our founding fathers worked very hard to foster national unity. Building national cohesion is borne out of deliberate actions of those who are leading us. We know of instances of persons with names from certain regions being struck off lists of appointments simply because of their names – this should never be. But in addition to regional balancing we must also have gender balancing,” said Mwenye.