By Henry Kyambalesa

Last month, I suggested that President Rupiah Banda and Vice President George Kunda should seriously consider the prospect of creating a statutory and autonomous agency to be accountable to the Parliamentary Committee on Health, Community Development and Social Welfare, and which should assume the functions of the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) and those of the Public Welfare Assistance Scheme (PWAS).

I made the suggestion in response to the donation of various relief items worth US$100,000 to DMMU by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in December 2009. The donation included blankets, tents, shovels, wheelbarrows, water containers, sanitary towels, and other essential items.

The main reason for the suggestion was to forestall the potential for DMMU and PWAS to be abused by the Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD) or future ruling political parties to achieve partisan objectives.

Less than a month from the day I made the suggestion, there are already rumors and suspicions that the recent donation of “baby blankets” by President Banda to Lamba chiefs that is reported in The Post newspaper of January 4, 2010 in an article entitled “Lamba Chiefs Reject Banda’s ‘Baby Blankets’” consisted of blankets donated to DMMU earlier by USAID.

Such rumors and suspicions may, of course, be unfounded, but there is still a need for the authorities to create an autonomous agency which should assume the functions of DMMU (which is vested in the Office of the Vice-President) and PWAS (which is administered through the Ministry of Community Development and Social Services, and which includes the Social Cash Transfer Scheme). The creation of such an agency is actually in the best interest of MMD leaders as it will save them from rumors and suspicions that their donations to chiefs and needy members of Zambian society are public resources and/or relief supplies donated by foreign countries or humanitarian organizations.

Since Vice President Kunda has already announced the beginning of the MMD campaigns for the 2011 general elections, any monetary or material donation that will henceforth be made by the government to any community through DMMU or PWAS is likely to be conceived of as an attempt to “buy” votes. The need for President Banda and Vice president Kunda to promptly create the suggested agency cannot, therefore, be overemphasized.

Donor countries and humanitarian organizations also need to be aware of the potential for selective distribution of donated relief supplies to chiefs and needy local communities by the ruling political party with the intention of gaining political leverage. They need to encourage the government to create a statutory and autonomous government agency that would distribute donated relief supplies without any political meddling or manipulation by government officials.

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16 COMMENTS

  1. Mr Kyambalesa congrats for beating other Contributors.However,your suggestion of creating an agency will be an act of duplicity and bloating the already bloated civil service.The DMMU is manned by technocrats and just falls under the VP as a figurehead.Whether Kunda is campainging or not these civil servants will do their routine work Mr Henry.

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  2. Am waiting for Mr Vetran to comment on this one coz he has an answer to every accusation against his boss RB Nyamasoya. But what happened to the chiefs that they refused they normal just get those things quietly. Maybe change is coming to Zambia who knows

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  3. That donation from USAID was a very timely donation for mmd,couldnt have come at a better time than when the RED LIPPED viper flagged off the 2011 campaigns,unfortunately the baby blankets were donated to wrong chiefs,should have tried some other Bemba chiefs who are desperate….come to think of it,why are there so many leakages of information from this govmnt,anything that goes on behind closed doors comes out in the media,be it state hse,cabinet office,Procurement, name it,,this is not just good for any government,as much as i hate mmd and RB,some information is classified not for every Jim n Jacka.ss ffs

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  4. Why donate baby blankets to chiefs as if they had failed to provide for thier families.It was a very wrong move which our Nyama Soya made his full of mistakes i wonder his the advisors do.The nsilu veteran we are waiting for your comment on this saga .

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  5. I agree with Henry here but there is a problem. 1. Politics in general and in Zambia in particular are not clean. There is paranoia among our politicians that what they do not control, would work against them. This is good advice and knowing the reasonableness of President Banda he will definitely consider it. But if Mr Sata gets into power he will reverse the action. 2. Zambians are used to receiving from politicians. See just how many camp at MPs houses!

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  6. I agree with Henry here but there is a problem. 1. Politics in general and in Zambia in particular are not clean. There is paranoia among our politicians that what they do not control, would work against them. This is good advice and knowing the reasonableness of President Banda he will definitely consider it. But if Mr Sata gets into power he will reverse the action. 2. Zambians are used to receiving from politicians. See just how many camp at MPs houses!

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  7. Bravo Henry! Like everyone has said, or like we all can guess, it is a long pipe dream to think that there can be an autonomous body created by any of the current crop of politicians! Even the NCC are nowhere near drafting a consititution that will guarantee independence of any statutory body in Zambia. The best would be for all honest donors to share the their gifts with Zambian citizens that they deem to be in need of such! The role of the govt should be to equip citizens with skills necessary for self sustanance. Your idea Henry, is very good and would go a long way in restoring our pride as a nation! Actually if we still had Kafue Textiles, Mulungushi Textiles and Zambezi Textiles no Zambian Chief would be insulted coz we all would afford to buy baby blankets!

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  8. heheheheheheh..heheheheheheheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeehehehehehehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!corruption at its best..mwajama asikulu…be ready to vacte cum 2011…viva pact!!

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  9. Why did the lamba chiefs receive the blankets and the turn around and condemn the ‘donation’? they could have rejected them, if they were sincere in seeing the move as corruption. Are they worried about the size(the post called tem baby blankets)?

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  10. Henry your idea is very smart. But you are advsing wrong guys. In its current form the MMD government has very weak moral, institutional and political quality and this has weakened overall spirit of public service in public institutions. Contributing ideas to Rupiah Banda admnistration is like sowing seed on rocks. You are better of advising PF/ UPND on how best they can win the hearts and minds of voters in areas where they are not strong and also national development strategies that would help fast track national reconstruction.

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  11. Let the Chiefs donate those blankets to the women in thier various chiefdoms. There are children who desparately need blankets, whether baby blankets or not.

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  12. President Banda is right. He is caring for the future. Those blankets are useful for the Lamba BABIES that are being born. Its the duty of the Chiefs to identify these babies in their Chiefdoms and in turn donate these blankets to them. Thats part of decentralisation and the Chiefs will be applauded in their respective Chiefdoms for such actions. Its selfish and a fallacy to believe that all that is donated to a Chief should be for his or her use ONLY. The Chief is in charge of all his subjects including BABIES.

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