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Friday, July 10, 2020

Understanding Zambia’s new Secretary to Cabinet

Columns Understanding Zambia’s new Secretary to Cabinet

Dr Simon Miti
Dr Simon Miti

By Isaac Mwanza


PRESIDENT Edgar Chagwa Lungu’s appointment of Dr. Simon Kamwendo Miti as head of Zambia’s civil service has attracted the attention and some hot debate as expected from modern elites who make speculative rather than evidence-based comments on any person appointed to lead the Zambian civil service. This rather unproductive debate is largely focused on social media rumour-mongering and uninformed opinion. One would hope that well-read and well-informed Zambians will hail the appointment of Dr. Miti, and therefore will raise the discussion of this appointment above the current debate, to reminding the newly-appointed Secretary to Cabinet of the need to harmonise and achieve coherence between disparate functions and elements that exist in the public sector and, more importantly, rebuilding public confidence and the image and professionalism in the civil service.

The Work of Secretary to Cabinet

As Dr. Miti assumes office as Secretary to Cabinet after his ratification, he needs to take off the jacket and tie to lead a campaign for delivering results in the public sector. This is so because apart from being the chief advisor to President Lungu on the management of the public service and his responsibility to him for securing the general efficiency and effectiveness of the public service, Dr. Miti will have a national task of ensuring that public services are delivered to the public efficiently.

Indeed, the public will judge Dr. Miti by his capacity to ensure that public services are being delivered to the public in an efficient manner. Zambian citizens have been reduced to beggars in their own land, so that today, it is an uphill battle for citizens to get services such as quality health, retirement benefits, passport and other legal documents issued by their own government. One need not remind Zambians of the nightmares of having one’s application for title to land processed at our Ministry of Lands, where it is much easier for foreign nationals to have their applications for title much more speedily processed than for Zambians.

There is need for a Secretary to Cabinet who can spearhead a change of attitude and improve a working culture among our civil servants. It is worryingly common to see our clerical staff, directors, nurses, etc. who report for work late and, instead of beginning the day’s work, run straight to have teas. Some even enter offices at 08:00 hours but for purposes of leaving a jacket hanging on the back of their chair only to come back later at 17:00 hours to collect their jacket and leave for home, knowing their monthly salary is secure.

Both supervisors and junior officers care less about how long one has to wait in a queue to obtain a service. This needs to change and a new system must be devised to have the public provide feedback on the performance of civil servants. Under the Kaunda era, civil servants in key offices with daily interaction with the public would not be allowed to stay in one station for far too long. We must replicate that old but efficient system of managing the civil service human resource.

Does Dr. Simon Miti have capacity to overturn the current culture and workings in the Civil Service?
In order to turn the tide and improve efficiency in the civil service, there is need for a Secretary to Cabinet who is focused and commands knowledge and insights into the broader perspective of public service operations.

The Zambian people deliberately provided, in their national Constitution, the mandatory demand to have a Secretary to Cabinet who has or had at least ten years’ experience as a permanent secretary or equivalent rank. A civil servant with such experience will be diligent and would have had a proven record of producing results and conversant with the procedures and systems of how government runs.

The background check on Dr. Miti as the presidential nominee for the position of Secretary to Cabinet shows that he has close to 30 years’ service in the public service having worked at district, provincial and national levels and ascended to the position of Principal Private Secretary to the President equivalent to Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet.

For the last 17 years, Dr. Miti has worked in three different administrations as a senior public service administrator and is fully acquainted with national planning systems, practices and processes. From 2002 until a year after the death of President Levy Mwanawasa, he was Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health. In 2009, he was moved to become Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Science and Technology until 2012.

In 2012, the late President Michael Sata had moved him from the Ministry of Science and Technology to the Office of the Vice President in the same capacity as Permanent Secretary in charge of Parliamentary Business, a position he held until 2015 when he was moved to Ministry of National Development and Planning as Permanent Secretary until 2017. In that year, he assumed office as Permanent Secretary at Cabinet Office in charge of administration until 2018 when he was appointed as Principal Private Secretary to the President, a position he currently holds.

In the Mast Newspaper edition of Sunday, 30th June, 2019, we read a screaming headline attributed to one of our political party leaders, calling on the President to reverse the appointment of Dr. Miti as Secretary to Cabinet on grounds that the subordinate court had ordered the arrest of Dr. Miti to answer corruption-related charges brought against him at the time he served as Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Health.

I took the liberty to go into the archives to find the Judgment in The People vs. Henry M. Kapoko and 10 Others (No. SSY/109/2009) delivered by Subordinate court Magistrate Mr. Exnorbit Zulu which I shared with a few friends and, if given an opportunity to make submissions at Parliament during the ratification hearing of Dr. Miti, will gladly avail the Committee.

Unfortunately, there is nowhere in that Judgment where the learned Magistrate issued any order to the effect that Dr. Miti should be arrested to answer to any charges. As a matter of fact, the last statement issued on this matter in December, 2012 by Timothy Moono, Spokesperson of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), was that Dr. Miti was their key witness in one of the trials. Dr. Miti should not waste time to legitimise the politics of anyone by suing any politician for spreading malicious falsehood but must focus on his ratification hearing and later the task that awaits him when he finally assumes office.

This development did not surprise me at all because it has become part of the political game in Zambia to bring down any person perceived as a political opponent. Surely, Zambian politicians need to learn something about our politics and how they relate to our laws: no one is disqualified from holding even the highest office in the land simply because they are facing charges in court, nor can anyone be disqualified because, while facing charges, the case was discontinued by way of a nolle prosequi. One is disqualified only if they have been found guilty by a court of law.

I need not remind fellow citizens that the presumption of innocence, is one of the pillars of our legal system and is in force until an accused person is found guilty and pronounced so by a competent court of law. Therefore, the call to the President to reverse his nomination of Dr. Miti as referred to above, is unjustified and should not impede Parliament in its consideration of the President’s nomination for the post of Secretary to the Cabinet.


The presidential nominee for Secretary to Cabinet, as can be seen above, has an impressive record of public service which makes him a fit person to hold office as Secretary to Cabinet. The experience he has, no doubt, has earned him leadership and competencies which would be vital for the operations of the public sector. The public, however, will be more interested in evaluating Dr. Miti as to whether he would be capable of transforming the public service to make it friendlier to consumers of public services. The Zambian public deserve better services from public servants and it is the duty of the Secretary to Cabinet to become more accessible to the people. Zambians expects the top civil servant to become the bridge between themselves and their public leaders – appointed and elected. I therefore call upon Dr. Miti to open the door of that office more widely to the public.

(Disclaimer: The views in this article do not necessarily represent the views of this media nor the institutions the author is affiliated to or has membership on but represent the views of the author who is a governance and legal expert. For feedback: email the author on isaacmwanza14 AT gmail DOTcom)

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  1. Simon Miti is a victim of circumstances, but he’s a survivor. I remember him as a young man in Ndola. He has worked hard, it’s difficult to reach to where he is from humble beginnings because life favors the well-connected, especially in a warped society like ours. I urge to be strong and put God first because it won’t be an easy tenure. Zambia is controlled by a strong mafia that can easily scandalize and destroy people

    • Zambians are good at bringingothers down. The Pull him down syndrome (PhD) degree must be given to HH.

    • Its Isaac Mwanza as author …just know that there is bootlicking in the article no worth reading just read the conclusion!!

    • Jay Jay – Challenge Isaac Mwanza with facts and not the crap you have written above. We know you are better than this.

    • These people have really run Zambia down. A political party official is the one defending a Presidential appointment shuwa!
      Anyway, Dr Miti is a good man. He allowed Kapoko to steal right under his nose. He is a very good appointment so that now they can steal without him saying a word. When there is another government, he will turn state witinesi ageni. They are only hoping that that will not happen. Dr Msiska took away the vehicles, they didn’t like that. Dr Msiska set appraisal targets for them, they didn’t like that. Now, tuleyeni bonse ku mabala tukalye

    • Isaac Mwanza has taken Sunday Chanda’s job.
      Now I understand why Sunday is making peace with UPND.

  2. No amount of laundering will take away the fact that this Simon Kamwendo Miti was one of the people at the centre of corruption and abuse of donor funds at the Ministry of Health. In a normal society, this man would either be in jail or barred from holding high public office. But this is Zambia! Just the tone of the first paragraph makes it clear that the author of the article is a bootlicker, paid goon of both. No need to read beyond that!!! As for the appointing authority, one wonders why he has an affinity for appointing shady characters most of the time. Does it make him feel better or what?

  3. I believe Dr. Miti served this country well except he Presided when Kapoko was stealing, that was going to mess his good name and record. He deserves to lead the public service

  4. Kind of factual discussions this country needs, not all time bringing people’s names down. No, HH stole from privatisation, no Kambwili used mwamona to steal. Objective information

  5. I have nothing against Dr Miti, but I worry about the credibility of his supporters: Sunday Chanda, Antonio Mwanza and now Isaac Mwanza.
    Why don’t they deal with the opinion of Kapoko’s jailer (the Magistrate) that Dr Miti ought to be held accountable for “feigning” ignorance of the financial looting at MoH when he Miti was PS? These cadres seem to be suggesting that once has a doctorate degree, then he becomes beyond reproach.
    I want to believe that Dr Miti is innocent, but for those who tout his credentials as an “accomplished” administrator, I can’t help wondering how effective he is as an administrator if a whopping K6.8million can disappear under his watch as PS? Innocent he maybe but after such gigantic “lapses” can he be entrusted with bigger responsibilities?
    These PF…

    • @upnd cadre, dr miti had nothing to answer 4, he was State witness in Kapoko case, & Mwanza tells u he’s read judgment & nowhere does it say he must answer charges. Thats only imagination of reporters & opposition

  6. In Zambia, people ve had their careers destroyed coz of speculative and untruthful info. Dr. Miti is just too strong a person 2 ve survived the ship’s wreckage. He got what it takes to transform the public service. We hope UPND MPs won’t ne as petty is usual manner to try discredit good man.

  7. It’s Isaac Mwanza again fighting for relevance in PF…

    PF, please give this guy a job – for continuously serenading you and beautifying your every deed!

    • And 1 thing u can’t take away from this Mwanza is his ability to give researched info, people play down his post without facts. Am yet to see 1

  8. What people are missing is that Kapoko stole from MoH to fund Sata’s PF. In the grand scheme of things Miti was at the centre in his capacity as PS. No payments are authorised in any ministry without the knowledge of the PS, no way! Miti even wrote to Sata apologising. Why? Can you rob a bank and then apologise to be let off?
    Lungu is aware of Miti’s contribution to PF not working hard but funding via Kapoko. Kapoko was never going to be jailed and even now he could be free and we will never know.

    • This is kind of thinking surrounding UPND leaders and supporters, pure tribalists who do not want to recognise the success of others. Always using lies to discredit other people. Dr. Miti is more qualified than anyone in UPND to run for that office

    • Most logical contribution by the 13th on Simon Miti’s issue. While at MoH, I believe Simon achieved nothing better than covert funding and providing dossiers on people to the PF! A good comparison is, Barclays Bank recently charged and dismissed some of its senior managers after the fugitive whore Pamela helped herself to a reportedly $400k!

      Think about it people …

  9. #5.1 Never, you must be a trib.al. I said “I want to believe that Dr Miti is innocent, but for those who tout his credentials as an “accomplished” administrator, I can’t help wondering how effective he is as an administrator if a whopping K6.8million can disappear under his watch as PS? Innocent he maybe but after such gigantic “lapses” can he be entrusted with bigger responsibilities?”

    When a PF cadre like you becomes a trib.al too then we are in a disastrous combination. It’s a simple but valid comment. I did not say that Dr Miti is guilty. All you have to do is show that my concerns are not valid, simple.

    • U seem not to realise white collar crime can happen under any persons department without one realising that things ve gone wrong. People that steal from companiees even with boss at helm of it are sophisticated to extent that even bosses may not know what they signed for or where the actual money had gone. Now you talking of govt ministry with so many directors and implementors. Go to council and see what they pay for and what’s on ground. Dr. Miti was victim of the bureaucracy he should fix when confirmed in office

  10. Another criminal given a job and foolish Zambians are praising another rat who is going to condone more stealing. The only hope for Zambia is regime change not this recycling of criminals with court cases like lungu. There are many vibrant young people desperate for positions instead of these old fossils

  11. What is there to celebrate about another criminal with court issues like lungu being given a job while many vibrant youths are languishing in the streets jobless. There is need for fresh blood what difference will this guy make if he didn’t do that last time, we tired of these fossils impending our progress

  12. Mwanza is nephew to Dr Miti. Our team is all aware of this relationship, reason he can unfload all data

  13. #8.1 Pukutani Mtonga, qualifications are not the issue here, no one doubts Dr Miti’s qualifications. We are tired of explaining simple basic things, how can you allow a whopping K6.8Million to be looted in your ministry when you are the controlling officer looking after a budget? Are you a trib.al?

    • Have u never heard of theft happening even at a police station or post; car stolen and police didn’t know how it all happened? Should we not employ police officers because things are even at own stations?

  14. HH became rich overnight from privatisation; from rags in Bweengwa to riches at expense of poor miners in Copperbelt. He sold Hotel in Livingstone at lower price knowing he was to become shareholder.

    Today, he wants to claim to be standing on high moral pedestal? Aikona!

  15. Zambians re petty, ati money was stolen when he was PS. Yes money get stolen in institutions, stealing is owys carefully planned and executed. That doesn’t dent his standing. Journalists at Post and now Diggers re ones who ve kept this narrative that he did some wrong doing. No court has found him guilty or wanting. We can’t base decisions on courts of public opinions. Miti deserves appointment

  16. Levels of critical thinking in Zambia are lacking; got politicians and followers spending lots of time on non issues; just look at comments on this thread-all tainted with political inclinations; they are bigger issues author brings out in this topic directly affecting citizens as regards public service but u all busy discussing a man who has never been to any court for any charges. Our minds as Zambians are so poor hence our politicians know how to play on them to get votes. Zambians must be discussing service delivery and not all these nonsense reading in comment sections

    • The idle minds is the devils workshop. Sad to say most of our minds and many bloggers are idle, hence concentrating discussion on people rather than issues. Politicians know why they need idle minds in quest to maintain power. Demonstrably, Dr Miti should be discussion coz he qualifies for that office and has no criminal record whatsoever. Issues is about whether he can transform public sector where demanding for bribes is even something civil servants dont hide these days

  17. Miti is a politician in the civil service. He can’t do any job properly but as boot licker makes sure that people that work are not given recognition. He removed the late Dr Moses Sinhala (HSRIP) for appearing on TV with the Japanese who came to inspect Kanyama health Centre. He thinks these things are hidden! We know you Miti. From Copperbelt PMO to were you are. Your deeds are not hidden. We know your deeds!!

    • The correct name is Dr. Moses Sichone, not Dr. Moses Sinkala, I knew him pretty well. Sadly missed. MHSRIP..

  18. He removed Dr Moses Sinkala (honorary Professor Moses Sinkala (late)) from being Director of Lusaka District Health Management Team. It’s a shame that he doesn’t allow people with skills to help Zambia. Failure of a man who survives through means of darkness.

  19. Those who knew Dr Moses Sinkala (honorary Professor) well will tell you what Miti did to him. You can judge for yourselves if this man deserves to be in public service or not. You need to have a stringent vetting mechanism to move forward as a country. Where are the young people schooled in modern ways to move the country forward? You resurrect dinosaurs to perpetuate the status quo of bribery, corruption and unethical behavior as a credible appointment??

  20. Dr. Miti should lead a campaign for a responsive public sector and not just sit in that office. public can’t get any services from most public officials without bribes. To be employed in public service, you need to know someone or they will send u to most rural part. I think if he applied his mind to advice, his got the best acumen to deliver unless he wants to join his fellows who always stayed in office

  21. @Tamarack. When such things happen, the officer-in-charge is suspended. He cannot be promoted until he is cleared of negligence. I feel this is the argument here. Otherwise, personally, I have no problem with this appointment but those who have raised issues should not be dismissed.

  22. It is wishful thinking to expect good results from corrupt Miti and his corrupt govt, everything is rotten anyway.

Comments are closed.

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