THE heated debate raging within the United Party for National Development (UPND) over the appointment of District Commissioners is nothing but a scramble for an equal distribution of the “spoils of war.”
It has nothing to do with someone aspiring for public office to serve the country, but being rewarded for the August 12, 2021 effort that won the party the general elections.
It is a problem that other parties which assumed the reins of government have been through before, and the UPND must not be surprised that the selection of District Commissioners is causing so much furore.
Although President Hakainde Hichilema has preached about having people in his administration sharing his vision of servanthood to the public, it appears not all embrace this ideal.
It is very obvious that scores of UPND functionaries at the lower organs of the party also want to have a piece of the cake – and that includes being appointed or fitted somewhere in the system.
This explains why in some parts of the country, there have been open revolt over some of the people appointed as District Commissioners.
The entire UPND leadership in Chavuma for example has rejected the appointment by President Hichilema of Mr Shindanyi Mbundu accusing him of being a Patriotic Front member.
They have since demanded that the President should rescind his decision and instead appoint a Mr Geoffrey Kasonda, who they say is their preferred choice because he has been loyal to the party.
“We have decided to petition the appointment of Mr Shindanyi Mbundu as district commissioner because as a party, we cannot feed a mouth that has been biting us,” read part of the petition to President Hichilema.
There have been similar murmurings of dissent in Mungwi and Chongwe.
A resident of Mungwi who sought anonymity said that most people were disappointed with the choice of the new District Commissioner and suggested that the people must be consulted because they are the ones who will work with them.
In Chongwe, the main complaint is that the new District Commissioner is an “opportunist” who joined the party during the campaigns for the August 12 elections.
A UPND sympathiser alleged that the new District Commissioner for Chongwe was new to the party and just left the FDD during the campaigns.
He lamented that those who worked for the party were denied the job on grounds of lack of qualifications. He said that this was a serious inconsistency that must be addressed.
Although the complaints might appear to be isolated, it is an issue that the UPND top leadership must explain about the criteria used in appointing District Commissioners and others
They must realise that President Hichilema having named his cabinet ministers, some of their cadres expected to be “rewarded” with something and are disappointed they have missed the cut even at such junior level.
Theirs is a mammoth task to explain to their expectant supporters that not everyone could be accommodated within the government set-up and make them realise that they are still appreciated in the party.
They still have to contend with the multitudes of cadres at markets and bus stations who are waiting for their share from the “spoils of war” – being allocated stalls and other advantages of belonging to the ruling party.
The bottom line though is that the UPND must now work on changing the mindset of its party faithful that being in government is not about landing lucrative appointments but by being loyal and patriotic to the country.