STATE House’s justification for appointing six Permanent Secretaries from two regions only cannot pass without comment because it is the lamest excuse that the presidency can give for this divisive action. What the President’s spokesperson was talking about lacks, and to a great extent, is offensive to people from other regions of Zambia who have been excluded from the governance system.

ISAAC Chipampe: “He is the President of all Zambians. And when he is making appointments, what he looks at is people who are competent enough to perform duties that will make him realise his vision. 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. It is so sad that people want to always think of regions 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. That is the President’s thinking,” said Chipampe.

In our view, this is an insult to the intelligence of people who live in other regions of Zambia that are being segregated. These appointments are not a coincidence because President Lungu has been appointing government officials strictly from those same regions; the North and the East. The permanent secretaries whom the president recently fired were from those same regions. Some of them are responsible for the biggest scandals ever recorded in this country’s history. So what quality is Mr Chipampe referring to that will be compromised?

If the President’s standard of quality is scandal after scandal; the Honeybee style of managing critical ministries like the Ministry of Health, then we understand his “coincidence” because as far as we have observed, in his five year reign, Mr Lungu has shown no sense of quality in his appointments whatsoever. This is also the reason why we are defaulting on external debts. This is the quality that State House is referring to.

But we must ask President Lungu and his spokesperson to explain why we have a staff development programme in all the regions of this country if only two are producing quality public servants. Are they implying that the staff development programme in the public service has only focused on developing skills for employees from the North and East? This seriously undermines the competence of Cabinet Office whose responsibility is effective succession planning.

State House must also explain why presidents before Mr Lungu have been managing to appoint people from all regions of the country. If competence is only found in two regions, how did Levy Mwanawasa manage to appoint technocrats to top civil service positions, including the judiciary, from all parts of Zambia? Where and how did he find them? If anything, Levy’s regime enjoyed an unprecedented economic growth rate averaging 6.9 percent. Compare that to the evangelist growth rate of 1.8 percent we have been subjected to under the ‘competent’ technocrats appointed by President Lungu!

Even Kenneth Kaunda, with a 100 university graduates at independence did far better in recognizing the diversity of the country by making sure that every region was recognized from that few educated people that were at his disposal. So President Lungu has absolutely no excuse for making such divisive appoints. It only goes to show how not disinterested he is about uniting the country.

Even foreign companies which come to invest in Zambia are subjected to an employment policy. Imagine if there was no employment policy recruitments for international companies operating in Zambia, many of them would have expatriates from home countries on the basis of not compromising quality! Some things are not just about ‘quality’; It’s about what is morally acceptable and good for the country!

We also wish to remind Mr Lungu and his government that taxpayers don’t come from only two regions. You can’t say looking at tribe can compromise quality of appointments, yet when you are collecting taxes, you start from those same regions where you claim there is no quality. It’s a shame.