By Trevor Simumba
The main excuse being given for the cowardice of Zambian professionals in Government is that if they speak out they risk retirement in national interest! So what. From University in the UK I joined Government in 1994 as an Economist Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry. After two years I went into the private sector as an Assistant Consultant. My first major consulting assignment was with the World Bank which took me back into Government but with better remuneration. Since then I have advised Governments in over 25 countries across the world mainly in Africa including the UK and USA Government on issues related to trade and investment. I can state very strongly I have never seen the level of mediocrity and fear in the public service as I have seen with the current crop of public servants in Zambia.
I have worked with Hon. Mutati when he was Minister of Trade, I worked with Hon. Magande when he was Finance Minister and many a time my view was different from theirs but never once did I think oh what if I lose my job? Under both the LPM and FTJ Governments we all worked as a team. Central Bank had brilliant minds Fundanga, Kalyalya, Mwenda and others, Ministry of Finance with likes of Musokotwane, Felix Nkulukusa, Emmanuel Ngulube, Stella Chibanda, late Mubanga. At State House you had proper Economic and Political Advisers focused on managing the Zambian economy.
Today everyone in key positions is just focused on their own survival and no one is telling the President the full story nor the truth. Many a time the late Mwanawasa would directly ask for technocrats to explain to him issues rather than hear it second hand from Ministers. He also hated bootlickers and felt insulted when you thought by saying nice things you would impress him.
I remember sometime in 2006 or 2007 when I was presenting the ‘Enterprise Show’ on ZNBC I released an exclusive exposé of a fuel deal that had led to a shortage of diesel in Zambia. The information I received implicated the PS Energy and I spoke directly into the camera as it was a live show and addressed the President saying “please take action Sir, I am tired of walking as there is no diesel for my car”. ZNBC after that incident stopped allowing live transmission of the programme and did not renew the contract at the end of the contracted period. I received threats from OP officers because of that saying how can I address the President on TV like that. But lo and behold President Mwanawasa reacted differently and sent his personal security to come and get the file of information I had and he immediately fired the PS Energy and cancelled the deal with a South African bank. A few days later I met then Vice President Kavindele at Pamodzi Hotel and he said to me ‘young man what trouble are you causing, we discussed you during Cabinet’!
So do not tell me oh no we cannot talk because we may lose our jobs or Government will harass us. No you are just simply a coward. If we were like you cowards FTJ would have managed to get his third term. In my more than 20 years of professional life I have faced serious threats not only against my job but against my life. But because I stand for the truth and for my country no harm has come to me. The late Sata once called me and said why don’t you support me and I said because I do not agree with your brand of politics or policies. But he said one thing I will always remember. He said, “the problem you have Simumba is that your generation is a very selfish generation of Zambians. I wanted to give you a job but ‘abanobe were the most against you’. This is the reality of Zambia today. We have a generation of back stabbing kleptocrats who at the snap of a finger will even betray the current President whom they shower with all sorts of praises and accolades but deep down in their hearts despise. We know them and come 2021 I and many progressive Zambians will ensure we get rid of them once and for all.
They were the same people who destroyed RB and today they have gathered around the PF. They will also destroy the PF but we will not allow them destroy Zambia. Enough is enough its time to rise and shine, our appointed time has come for the Lord to hear our cry.
The author is a Trade and Economic Expert