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Dear Editor,

ANY development planner worth his/her salt will agree with the statement issued by State House attached hereto on decentralisation.

It is for the same reason that communist China has now emerged as the richest nation on earth, surpassing the United States, when it was one of the poorest nations only 40 years ago. Per capita, China was poorer than Zambia as at 1980.

The nation is not infuriated by the statement on decentralisation. In fact, decentralisation was approved by the nation way back in 2002. The decentralisation policy and strategic frameworks were approved more than a decade ago. And decentralisation was made constitutional in 2016.

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The missing link has been political will to practically implement the constitutional, policy and strategic frameworks.

Most citizens applauded President Hakainde Hichilema’s move to increase CDF appropriation from K1.6 million per year to K25.7 million.

The two main concerns raised on the approach taken by the UPND Government are on accountability issues for the CDF funds, as well as a piecemeal approach to decentralisation.

I don’t think that anyone would have raised any such concerns if the UPND Government used the decentralisation policy and strategic frameworks, as well as implement decentralisation as provided for in the Constitution.

The statement that has infuriated the nation is this, as quoted by the Sunday Mail Vol 24, No.045 of November 7, 2021 on page 1:

“That’s mischief by tribalists, the hegemonists who did not want this country to be run by anyone else other than a clique of thieves like them.

“And I call them a clique of thieves because they have been feeding off public resources from independence and they don’t think that someone else can run this country in a better way to redistribute jobs, to redistribute resources.”

The two statements quoted here, do not in any way represent principles of decentralisation as defined in the Constitution and Decentralisation Policy.

These statements imply that anybody who has benefitted from public resources, even for educational, health or indeed social security purposes, right from independence up to now, belongs to a clique of thieves.

Further, the statements imply that only thieves have been running the country since independence.

Additionally, the statements imply that the said thieves are from some tribal grouping, and did not distribute resources and jobs to other tribal groupings.

Furthermore, the statements imply that the tribal grouping ensured that persons from other tribal groupings were not allowed to run the country.

Finally, by implication, President Bally accused late Presidents Kaunda, Chiluba, Mwanawasa, RB, Sata, and ECL of being tribalists and thieves, who did not allow other tribal groupings to run the country, and redistribute resources and jobs.

By any standard, these statements are in bad taste. They are tribal, highly divisive and unconstitutional. They must never come from a Head of State especially that in reality, this is not the position.

And in future, as Head of State, he should learn to absolve criticism. He should understand that in a democracy, for every move or decision he makes, there is bound to be an opposite reaction. The best he should do, is to be calm about criticism.

For it will be his daily life for the next five years, and all citizens have a right to criticise every move and policy of government.

President Bally should take a leaf from other Presidents before him, who were called all sorts of names, like fonkofonko, kafupi the lazzo, cabbage, spitting cobra, etc. In the case of the immediate past President, he was criticised and called all sorts of names but was calm about it.

Put simply, republican presidency is a self-inflicted abusive position. Angry reactions to public criticism by a President only aggravates abuse by the public.

To conclude, instead of justification of the statements, the best that President Bally, and his staff should do is apologise to the nation for the mess. There is honour in apologising when one is wrong.


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