YESTERDAY, we saw that our President and his team at State House do not attach much importance to a formal national address. We heard from the President’s spokesperson, Mr Isaac Chipampe who said the president has been addressing the nation through the Secretary to the Cabinet and through interviews with journalists who he meets at events. In our view, this is a very casual way of looking at national governance.
A national address is important for all Zambians because it tells us what government’s programme of action is on a given issue of public interest or concern. The programme of action is the government’s plan for the people of Zambia. If something so tragic like the Covid-19 pandemic comes into effect, that programme of action for the government gets disturbed in such a significant manner that even the national budget becomes derailed. The government has to reshape it’s priorities. There is no better person to explain the fresh plan of action than the President himself.
The President’s national address is vital to national building. Every now and then, it is expected that the President will address people to provide an update on pertinent issues facing them like youth unemployment while hopefully offering solutions to the issues currently plaguing the nation. Whichever way one looks at it, the President’s national address is always linked to the national budget. It gives the people a good indication of where their money, as taxpayers, has been going.
It’s not always about success. A government is led by people, human beings who are bound to fail. There is no government on earth that is faultless. You can’t tell the people that you have succeeded to implement all the outrageous ambitions that you set out at the beginning of the year. So, this is another good reason for the Head of State to occasionally speak to the people and explain where the government has failed, and further give alternative plans that are being put in place. Stating one’s failures is not a weakness, it is in fact a strength because it shows that someone recognizes their failures, without pretending that all is well.
A President’s national address serves a very important economic purpose. It provides both commercial and governmental establishments that have logistical operations at their core with more accurate data. A President needs to speak to the economic indicators, the exchange rate, inflation, the basic needs food basket, the budget performance, the external and domestic debt situation etc. The National Address plays a significant role in the economic development across towns that are far from the capital. Zambia is not only Lusaka.
Hearing and watching the President speak to the nation via a formal national address is important because it makes the people aware of what the government is doing about the challenges that they are facing. The people need formal assurance that their leader is not only aware of the problems at hand, but he also has a plan on how to fix it. Apart from that, when the President appears on TV to formally address his people, he automatically marshals everyone to get involved and take part in the government’s plan towards resolving the challenges, economic, social and political.
A national address gives citizens a stronger sense of national security than ordering the army to bring out their heavy guns to a scandalous event. Even in a household, children feel protected when they see their father’s presence. No matter how much of a coward that father is, seeing him and listening to his speech gives a sense of security to the children and the whole family.
For a democracy like Zambia, the need for a national address from the Head of State cannot be overemphasized, especially in an election year like this one. So many things are at stake when the term of office for a sitting President is coming to an end. When people are not able to see or hear the leader who is seeking re-election, panic sets in followed by wild speculations. Just to illustrate, right now, there is a group of Zambians that has information that President Lungu’s tested positive for Covid-19, but does not want to disclose this to the nation. Others say, since he collapsed on the National Defence Day, his condition has not been good and they fear he may not be in good shape by the time that Zambians will be going to the polls on August 12.
All these rumours can easily be wiped out if the President finds time to talk to his people through established national address platforms. It is very important for a President to address his people so that he can show off his good health and also boast about the achievements of his party, not through JK and Kayombo music.