Readers are encouraged to print this article so as to be able to spend some time to assess the various candidates objectively as we go towards the election date in Zambia to ensure they vote with their heads and not hearts
By Kalima Nkonde
Qualities of a President for Zambia
There are a lot of voters who currently lie in the undecided and independent column and are torn apart as to who they should vote for in the August 11,2016 election. Zambia has become a polarized society and this category of voters may well determine the winner of the election. This article, therefore, is primarily targeted at the undecided and independent voters who should ideally be rational in their decision making. It is not for partisan voters who are normally not objective as they vote for their candidates regardless of the candidates’ weaknesses because of Party loyalty.
In order to assist the undecided voters make a relatively objective decision, it would be helpful to outline what could be considered as some of the critical qualities that voters should be looking for in a President for Zambia at this critical time in our history. It should be noted that although anybody can grow up to be a President, not everybody is cut out to be a great, inspirational and transformational President.
The President of a country should have a combination of certain attributes to a varying degree although he or she cannot have them all in the same measure. It takes a special kind of person to be a President. They have to be someone decisive, tough, smart, talented and with sober character to hold the pressures of the job. The Presidency is the most difficult and complex job in the world requiring multi skills and it is a mistake to choose a President on the a basis of one positive and simplistic attribute like: “ He is humble,” or “He is an economic manager.” Or “ He is a Christian”.
This article is intended to have some serious fun with candidates selection and highlights ten qualities which are by no means exhaustive but are critical in Zambia’s circumstances. It is suggested that undecided and independent voters should either give a score between 1 to 10 to each candidate for each of qualities outlined and add up marks. One should be lowest score and ten is the highest. The total marks is 100. Alternatively, to make it simple for some voters, they just need to indicate pass or fail for each attribute. The candidate that gets the highest mark is the one they should give their vote.
The top five Presidential candidates to be assessed for the August 11 elections who are : Candidate Winter Kabimba, Candidate Tilyenji Kaunda, Candidate Edgar Lungu, Candidate Hakainde Hichilema and Candidate Edith Nawakwi.
The following are the ten qualities that Zambians should be looking for in a President: integrity, visionary, disciplinarian, compassionate, constitutionalist, humble, nationalist, competent, independent and healthy.
Zambia needs a President who is a man or woman of honor. He should be an honest person with strong moral character who walks the talk, keeps his promises and is not a liar, hypocrite or pretender. He should not have a record of proven untrustworthiness or corruption or theft. The character of a President should be beyond reproach. Zambians should be able to trust him or her and have confidence that he is not going to steal the country’s resources and will always put the country’s interests first. The President should be at a higher end of Psychologist Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs so as not to be motivated by money and other material things for vying for the office of President.
The President of Zambia should clearly have a personal vision for Zambia and be committed and determined to realize that vision. He or she must be clear as to where he wants to take the country and how. A great leader is a role model of hard work to his people. He should have a passion to serve the public not be driven by money or fame but for the common good so as to make a difference in people’s lives. The President should also be inspirational through his words and actions.
The public wants a President who accepts that he is human and admits his mistakes and weaknesses. He should not be a show off who exhibits arrogant tendencies and looks down on others. He should be approachable, a good listener and respects the views of other people rather than exhibit a know it all attitude. A President has to be accountable and take responsibility when things go wrong and not pass the buck. He should not just take credit when things are going right and refuse to take responsibility when things go wrong.
Ted Turner, the billionaire Founder of CNN in his biography, “ Call me Ted “, said this about humility: “ Whether you are talking about a person or a country, its okay to be rich and it’s okay to be powerful, just as long as you’re humble and cooperative. But if you combine being rich and powerful with being arrogant and uncooperative, people won’t cut you much slack.”
Zambia like never before needs a President who believes in the rule of law. The country needs a leader who will uphold and respect the constitution, abide by the laws of the country, respect civil liberties like freedom of assembly, press freedom, and honor the decisions of the judiciary. According to the highest legal authority on the matter, the non partisan, Law Association of Zambia (LAZ), Law and order has broken down to some extent in Zambia as evidenced by political violence and the arbitrary behavior of the Police Service and abuse of public order act.
The politicization of democratic institutions is a clear sign that we are on the wrong governance trajectory. The full restoration of the separation of powers and the independence of important good governance institutions like Judiciary, Parliament, Anti Corruption Commission, Zambia Revenue Authority, Drug Enforcement Commission etc is critical. For any one who is old enough to have lived under the one Party State of KK’s UNIP dictatorship, they would agree that our hard won democracy is on the line and we can ill afford to lose the gains made in last twenty five years.
The President needs to be a proven disciplinarian in his past dealings including how he or she has maintained discipline in his or her own Party. They should be able to instill discipline in their administration and the country at large. Indiscipline is currently rampant in Zambia hence the violence, lawlessness etc. Zambians work better with leaders who are firm , disciplined and those that they fear to some extent.
The likes of Presidents Kenneth Kaunda, Levy Mwanawasa and Michael Sata were able to have things done and achieve their goals because subordinates feared being fired if they did not perform or if they were caught to be engaged in any misdemeanors. Zambia needs a President who is courageous enough be able to make decisions which are unpopular but are in the long term interests of the country even if it is not good for him and his Party. The President should be able to fight for what is right for the country. Zambia needs a strong leader – in the realm of John Pompe “ Bulldozer” Magufuli of Tanzania who can even fire friends – and not a weak one.
The majority of our people are suffering and wallowing in poverty. Zambia needs a President who understands what people are going through. We need a President who will empathize with the poorest of the poor of our people by word and deed and not just by mere political rhetoric. He should demonstrate how he will uplift the people who are suffering from misery and pain and demonstrate selfless love for the people including those that do not support him.
In the light of the economic problems that we are in, we need a President who is interested and has a working understanding how the economy works. He should be ideally a competent and an accomplished manager of the economy and the country. He or she should be a hands on and proactive President rather than a reactive one. He has to be organized and be able to assemble a high quality economic and governance team.
People look forward to a leader during a period of uncertainty to get reassurance and security. Our country seems to worship mediocrity and does not celebrate excellence. As a nation, we are jealous of achievers and celebrate failures. We need a President with a track record of accomplishments. If for Job interviews we review candidates’ resumes, why should we not do the same for the most difficult job in the country. We should review what candidates have achieved in the past which should be a rough indicator of the chance of their future success. In this way, we will minimize the risk of having a failed Presidency.
In the light of Zambia being made up of so many tribes, the country needs a President who is a nationalist in word and deed and not a regionalist. He should promote unity among his people rather than causing them to be divided and have meaningless conflicts. The Zambian President should not pander to any tribal prejudices whatsoever.
The President should also put Zambians’ interest first and have a vision to empower Zambians in a broad based manner with jobs, education, skills, share ownership, finance, joint ventures with foreigners and business linkages with big businesses. This is only way to reduce poverty.
Zambia needs a President who is his/her own man or woman and not a puppet or pawn in the economic and political power game. He should be one who is not indebted to any sponsors. He should not be subject to manipulation by special interests who are thirsty for power and the wealth of the nation. He should be able to make brave decisions and stand up to powerful interests whether local or foreign. The President needs to portray and project a confident demeanor. He should have a self belief, be knowledgeable and not appear to be insecure and exhibit apparent inferiority complex.
The job of a President is a demanding job. In view of the economic problems that the country faces, Zambia needs a President than ever before whose health is beyond question. The nature of the job can make one’s little ailments deteriorate at a faster rate than normal and thereby incapacitate him in performing well and possibly lead to premature death.
In the light of the country’s recent experience, Zambia can ill afford a President whose health is in question. The country needs a President who is a hard worker, analytical, sober minded and can endure the long hours of work that the job demands, Zambia needs a workaholic for a President at the moment.
This article is a non partisan one and not personal one and covers five Presidential candidates. If there a weaknesses or strengthens that coincide with any candidate, it sheer coincidence and not targeted at all. The intention is to help the undecided, independents and disaffected to choose the best Presidential candidate who is the best for Zambia.
It is suggested that the undecided voters should do a bit of research on the Presidential candidates, observe them on the campaign trail and give marks to each one of them and see who gets the highest mark out of 100. They can then form an informed opinion on the various candidates so that come election time, they can decide on who to vote for on basis of the marks. In this way, they will be voting with a Head and not the Heart as they will have some objective basis.
It should be noted that each candidate has strengths and weaknesses and they may earn a higher score on one attribute and a lower score on another! The best candidate is one whose strengths over compensates for his or her weaknesses and by choosing such a candidate, then we are reducing the country’s risk of having a President who will turn the wheels of Zambia’s economic and political progress backwards. It is the sum total that will matter.
It is also hoped that the above mentioned qualities can be a basis for civilized debate in clubs, kitchen tables, dinner table, bars by the respective rational supporters of the various parties with regard to the weaknesses and strengths of the respective candidates.. The Independents and the Youth should learn from the BREXIT vote in the UK where most people voted with their hearts instead of their heads and are now regretting the way they voted as the consequences are daring. Zambian voters in general are well advised to vote with their conscience and base their votes on whether they will be well off or worse off by the choice they make.