TRANSPARENCY International Zambia (TI-Z) president Sampa Kalungu says maintaining the Head of State as board Chairperson of IDC might paralyse innovation, transparency and accountability.

In an interview, Kalungu said although having the President as board chairperson of IDC would provide confidence, most of the board members would not want to contradict the President on certain decisions or suggestions.

“First of all, we need to understand that the Presidency itself is a very powerful position in any country, extremely very powerful. Without being blasphemous, you can decide, you can create, you can destroy, you can build, you can appoint, you can disappoint. It is that powerful and people understand it that way. So having the President as the head of a statutory body of IDC, whilst in one way it provides confidence and it emphasizes the importance that IDC plays to the development of the nation and to the sustainability of the nation, but to a larger extent, him being part of the board can paralyze innovation, creativity, transparency and also accountability,” he said.

“Because most people who are appointed, they will want to speak that what the President would want to hear. Most of the people would not want to contradict the President. For instance, if the President decided ‘we think the IDC needs to invest more in this particular area than this other area’, and one board member feels completely different from what the President is saying, they will be very apologetic in trying to make the President change the mind.”

He said President Hakainde Hichilema could play an oversight role without being board chairperson.

“So for me, I think the Head of State, he can have an eye on it without him being part of it. He can let it be run by individuals, citizens, we have a lot of capable Zambians who can run it and he plays an oversight role to see that things are going well and smoothly. If things are going well that is fine. Even when he is head of IDC, he is likely not to be there all the time. He will present a representative and provide an excuse and for sure the President is a very busy person. In case IDC made a wrong judgement, we have heard how IDC was accused of mismanagement, IDC was accused of corruption and being non-transparent and then who will be blamed? It will be the President, yet the President will not be there all the time,” said Kalungu.

“Being the President you may not have that time because you have a thousand things that you need to attend to. So for us we would want to urge the President that such an oversight role might be taken by him at a very higher level because then he can summon the chair of IDC and say ‘what is it I am hearing? I am not happy about it’. It is the same argument we had when the President decided to bring the law enforcement agencies under State House. We said this will not create an independent mind of those who are ahead. People will be acting with fear, they will not be acting objectively.”