GOVERNANCE activist Rueben Lifuka has advised the UPND government to depoliticize the public service by appointing credible and capable individuals in the civil service.

And Lifuka says Zambia should not have any President who finds themselves in a position where there is a possibility of removing their immunity because of criminal allegations.

Speaking when he featured on Diamond TV’s “Costa” programme, Lifuka said President Hakainde Hichilema did not owe a political debt to anyone except the Zambian people.

“Because of the politicization of the public service, it is inevitable that there will be some changes. In making changes it will be important for the incoming government to depoliticize the public service. Whether it is the appointment of diplomats, ambassadors, there are a number of career diplomats who are well qualified and who should be given that opportunity. If it is the appointment of Permanent Secretaries, there are a number of professionals who have given their service to this country who deserve to be looked at. This should not be a job for the boys’ arrangement where you have your political associates really struggling to be in the front of the queue to be given jobs,” Lifuka said.

“This is where we are at the moment because the previous administration placed a premium on rewarding whoever did some work for them. President Hichilema does not owe a political debt to anyone except the Zambian people. In appointing his Cabinet, the emphasis should be on getting the brightest and the best people for the jobs. He should establish a government that is fit for the purpose. What is the purpose? The purpose is to turn around this country economically, politically, and socially. We need to put a premium on meritocracy, we have put too much premium on mediocrity. Now is the opportunity for President Hakainde to put in place the brightest, the best and fit for the purpose for this country.”

Lifuka urged the UPND to allow investigative wings to do their work freely.

“First and foremost, we should not have any President of this country finding himself or herself in a position where there is a possibility of the immunity being lifted for whatever criminal allegations against them. So, we should have a President that runs the affairs of this country devoid of all these criminal activities. Number two, if the law enforcement agencies working professionally find that their doors lead to President Lungu, he shouldn’t be above the law. One hopes that the investigative agencies will not find anything against the outgoing President. But the point is we should not create a society where people can do wrong and believe they can negotiate their way out of it,” he said.

“The UPND cannot reverse the ills of the PF by doing things outside the law, everything has to be by the rule book. One way of ensuring that whatever is done is done above board is to allow the law enforcement agencies to do their job. Provide sufficient support, technical, financial and let them do their job. It will not help us to go on a vindictive political witch hunt. This should not be the President’s preoccupation that on day one that we need to fix whoever was involved. The law enforcement agencies are more capable of doing their work. This is a demonstration, when you see DEC now waking up and doing this, it is a demonstration of the problems that we had in the past.”

Meanwhile, Lifuka called on the UPND leadership to be stern on their members who abrogated the law.

“One of the cautions that one would give to UPND is that this should not be just about changing guards and continuing with Zambia as usual. The Zambians will not take that for granted and I think they shouldn’t take the Zambian people for granted. UPND needs to demonstrate that it is a disciplined lot and I want to personally believe they can do it. What I have been seeing in the immediate run before they even take office is worrisome. The element of cadres believing that they can usurp the powers of the local government or any other institution has to be brought to an end,” said Lifuka.

“One of the problems that the PF face is that there was a breakdown of discipline, they may not want to admit this but their cadres became a law unto themselves and they held their leaders to ransom. The UPND leadership needs to be stern with their own members and demonstrate that those who fall far from the law will not be tolerated in the rank and file. This is not about our turn to eat. It shouldn’t be the UPND now believing that it is our turn to eat. The UPND needs to demonstrate from day one and the best for UPND to succeed is by ensuring that they run a tight ship on the party fund. I think that is where the PF lost it. The discipline was not as one would expect and this spilled over into government.”