WE HAVE no doubt in our minds that President Hakainde Hichilema means well for Zambia and its citizens. But the manner in which he has conducted himself and government affairs so far is worrying. It may not be worrying to those who simply wanted PF to go, but it is a cause for concern to those who voted for progress; those who wanted to see a clean-up of government and government institutions.
In fact, this is precisely why President Hichilema was voted into office overwhelmingly. We speak for many Zambians when we say that August 12 was not about removing Lungu alone. Those people who slept at polling stations to vote, those people who braved the scorching heat, standing on long queues to rescue Zambia from the jaws of a brutal regime, wanted to see swift action to remove the oppressors and criminal elements from the system.
Be patient, calm down, they say. But for how long can the people calm down when they don’t know what is going on with the leadership that they put in place? It’s fine if President Hichilema wants to take a month or a year before he can unveil his Cabinet, but it is a mockery to let those who enslaved our people continue serving in the same positions they occupied before.
Today marks exactly two weeks since President Hichilema was sworn in as Republican President, taking over from embattled former president Edgar Lungu. It is 27 days, almost a month, since the people of Zambia voted for change in the August 12 general elections. When we look around in government, there is no change. Mr Hichilema is still working with the same Principal Private Secretary who also doubles as Secretary to the Cabinet, he is still working with the same advisors, permanent secretaries and heads of government institutions. This is very strange to say the least.
Concerns are rising around why the same people who were seen stealing and abusing their authority of office are still running government institutions, 14 days after the so-called new hope, new dawn leadership was voted for and sworn into office. What is going on? If the delay to appoint people is due to “a vigorous screening process”, that too is a source of concern. It doesn’t make sense to us because ministers are supposed to be appointed from his elected members of parliament. Didn’t the UPND vet it’s MPs at adoption? Furthermore, if indeed the President is screening people to appoint, how does he think he will get accurate information on those individuals, considering that he is using Mr Lungu’s system to screen his own people?
President Hichilema must not make the mistake of underrating Mr Lungu’s appointees whom he is embracing from the old regime. These people are not foolish. First of all, they are busy covering their tracks and destroying every piece of evidence that may be used against their allies. But maybe President Hichilema is not exactly interested in fighting corruption after all, because if he was, he would not have stood a day in office with the very people who destroyed the economy that he is trying to fix.
But even assuming that he is not interested in bringing the criminals to book, working with them for this long is actually still very dangerous for him and his presidency. One thing that President Hichilema must not forget is that these people are filthy rich now. They have more money than he can imagine and they also have the most sophisticated criminal minds one can ever think of. Leaving them in government makes it easy for them to regroup and they will fix him before he fixes anything on his 10-point plan.
People want to see if he is serious about government reform. But so far, his restraint is sending a message that fighting corruption and the corrupt may not be top on his agenda. President Hichilema must be worried when people around him start talking ill to the press about his approach. It’s too early.
It is a very dangerous state of affairs when you defeat the corrupt and they remain in charge of government affairs. We wish to remind President Hichilema that this is warfare and therefore, he cannot be in the battlefront and commandeering the troops while his mind is in retreat mode. How can he fight corruption with the same corrupt people that the people defeated? He has been given a mandate to change the Country but his approach so far is worrying! He will get many courageous people who stood with him killed. Hyenas are hyenas, you can’t tame them!