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Friday, December 31, 2021

The 100 days of President HH Administration: Successes and Failures -An Independent Analysis

Columns The 100 days of President HH Administration: Successes and Failures -An Independent...

By Kalima Nkonde

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • The change in power in Zambia has brightened the nation’s economic prospects. Zambia’s new president, Hakainde Hichilema, is turning the nation’s economic fortunes around. (Bloomberg News)
  • The unending finger pointing by HH to fail past leadership whilst self-praising is irritating and immature. We want to see results. (Chishala Kateka, Opposition New Heritage Party President)
  • Patriotic Front lost partly because of the violent cadres – HH has managed to sort that out. Zambians have discovered their new freedoms. Most people wanted the return to law and order. (Laura Miti, Civil Rights Activist and Political Commentator)
  • HH’s weakness is time keeping. Hakainde was never on time for a press briefing during his time in opposition. He has religiously kept his work ethic as if he’s still a private citizen. He needs to change this bad work ethic.(MAST Newspaper editorial)
  • They treated this man like trash and they are having to live under his rule. They are in hurry to demonise the President out of spite. Whenever, President Hichilema speaks, these haters look out for words which they can use to influence public hatred towards him (News Diggers Newspaper editorial)
  • We need to give the UPND time to settle down. It might take three or six months to start seeing fruits. That is when we can make a fair comment on the UPND’s performance (Dr. Nevers Mumba, Opposition MMD President)
  • Democracy  lives on in the young people of Zambia, who harnessed the power of the vote, turning out in record numbers to denounce corruption and chart a new path for their country.( US, President Joe Biden)
  • All we hear from UPND Ministers are complaints, we need solutions. Load shedding has increased all over Zambia. We need new team at Zesco.(Trevor Simumba, Economist

On August 12, 2021, Zambians voted against all vices associated with the PF regime. They voted against violence, arrogance, cadrerism, economic ruin, democratic desecration and all manner of criminality. It has been rather shocking and disingenuous to hear intelligent PF leaders like Mr. Given Lubinda wondering why they lost. He even claimed that they were no signs of wind of change like in 1991 and 2011, when their administration shut down almost all avenues for people to express themselves. People were terrified to express themselves to the extent that the Youths had to demonstrate in the bush! The Opposition, especially the main Opposition leader, Mr. Hakainde Hichilema was prevented from freely campaigning and holding rallies. How did they expect to see the wind of change in such an environment? It is a shocking denial of the reality. The election was swung mostly by “disgruntled” youths and independents who PF ignored to listen to.

This week, on the 2nd December, 2021, it will be exactly 100 days from 24 August, 2021 when President HH was sworn in as the 7th President of the Republic of Zambia. There is, therefore, a need for an objective evaluation of how he has performed. The purpose of the evaluation is simply to give him a feedback on his performance. He should get credit where it is due, while at the same time pointing out his short comings so that he could work on them by making some improvements for the benefit of the country and the people.This is an Op-Ed based on facts..

DEMOCRACY AND CIVIL LIBERTIES

The first important performance indicator for President HH is the status of Zambian democracy, human rights and rule of law. During the ten year rule of the PF, there were numerous complaints of the curtailment of press freedom, reduction in the civil liberties and human rights such as freedom of expression and freedom of assembly and the deterioration in the rule of law. The complainants were very diverse. They included the general citizenry, Opposition Parties, the Church mother bodies, Media owners, Western diplomats, Academics and Non-government organisations .The respected “Varieties of Democracy Project” which is based at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden – which is believed by many experts as one of the most trusted sources of information on indicators of democratic progress or regression – reported in its 2020 report that Zambia was one of the fastest eroding democracies in the world. There is no shadow of doubt that President HH has restored some normalcy in the Zambian society in as far as democracy, human rights and rule of law. Freedom of speech and the press have been restored, and even those who did not allow others to express themselves are now able to do so. There is just a general air of freedom and the lack of fear among Zambians today. It is undeniable that the HH’s New Dawn administration has performed well in this area so far.

IMPROVED ECONOMIC PROSPECTS

It is a fact that the Zambian economy was mismanaged in the ten years from 2011 to 2021. Although it is far too early to rate HH‘s economic performance, it is not too early to evaluate the current economic trajectory. Since the HH’s New Dawn administration took over, the economic trajectory for Zambia has been, generally positive, both in intangible and tangible terms. In terms of intangibles, both local and foreign investors’ sentiment and confidence in the Zambian economy has gone up. In terms of a few economic metrics, the exchange rate of the kwacha has improved from a high of K23 to K17/18 to a US dollar. The rate of inflation has dropped from 24.4% to 19.3% in November, 2021.The prices of essential commodities have stabilized, and some have even started dropping. The new administration is also on the verge of clinching a deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) within four months of taking over power; when the previous administration failed to do so in 7 years. The deal with the IMF is key to Zambia’s economic recovery because both the Western and Chinese creditors have put it as condition for debt restructuring. Zambia’s foreign debt is so excessive that without the IMF deal, the country will not have much access to international finance, and the economy will be doomed. It is that plain and simple.

The 2022 budget has been hailed as a master stroke. It has been well received by the majority of the public, mainly due to the decentralization policy through the increased Constituency Development Fund (CDF), the creation of the necessary government jobs for teachers of 30,000 and medical personnel of 11,200 respectively, free education, increased allocation to health (8%) and the promotion of the agriculture sector. The budget has generally fulfilled the election promises in agriculture, education, health and promotion of entrepreneurship in order to create jobs.

Since the swearing in of President Hichilema, the country appears to be more at peace with itself than it was before the elections. The tension in the country has drastically reduced. Zambia is slowly becoming more united, and there is relative peace and tranquillity than before. One of the major reasons for this, is the fact that President HH has shocked his critics due to his lack of vindictiveness towards his political rivals. The President’s cabinet appointments have also won him accolades from independent people as it has generally been tribally balanced unlike in the recent past of the Patriotic Front.

President HH’s belief in reporting to Zambians through regular direct communication using various media, is a breath of fresh air. He realises that he is accountable to the Zambian people. Whereas President Lungu neither held press any conferences, nor gave interviews to both local media or international media like CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera and others in his seven years, and he rarely addressed the nation – even when the nation was in a crisis like during the gassing episode and the burning of markets -HH has been different. He has held a press conference already. He has also hosted an unprecedented two hour phone in radio programme. He regularly communicates with the public through the social media, with content written by himself, and not others.

There are other small positives or achievements that President Hakainde has scored like being prudent in the use of public resources and not being too wasteful, making many merit appointments to public office, the improvement of Zambia’s international image whereby the country is now more respected than before. Under the PF, the country was receiving bad publicity due to the deterioration in democracy and human rights, the collapsing economy which resulted in being the only African country to default on its debt post Covid-19, and Zambia’s lop sided relationship with China with cynics labelling Zambia as China’s poster child in Africa or Zambians calling it “ Chimbia”.

FAILURES AND WEAKNESSES OF THE HH ADMNISTRATION

Although President HH has scored a number of successes in the first 100 days, he has also recorded a number of failures mainly due to the high expectations that he set for the Zambian people. One of the President’s glaring failures according to many analysts is that the President has been indecisive and slow in making decisions. This has been attributed to HH’s lack of experience in State craft and his alleged stubbornness and unwillingness to consult and learn from those who have the experience in public office and know better how government operates.

The lack of government experience and skills required in politics, such as consultation and compromise, have exposed HH’s in adequacy to manage a mammoth and complex bureaucracy like government. This has clearly been demonstrated by his hesitancy and slow decision making process.

“But if you do not have the experience and you are not willing to learn because you knew it all, such is where we stand as a country today and I am certain more shock waves are still on the way.” Winter Kabimba the former Justice Minister said referring to State House Public announcement of the appointment of the Director General of Intelligence and his Deputy as a security risk.

There is also a current public perception that President HH’s management style is one that is highly centralized. It appears that everything revolves around him under the mantra “Barry will fix it”. President HH appears to want to control everything – he is accused of being a control freak. He appears to do very limited consultation and delegation. Most critics believe that the claim by him of being methodical is just an excuse for being overwhelmed by the complexity of the government machinery, which he is wrongly try to run like a corporation.

The other failure has been the noticeable increase in both petty and violent crime under President Hakainde’s watch in the first 100 days. The Police service have acknowledged this fact. The former Lusaka Province Minister and senior member of the ruling UPND Party, Obvious Mwaliteta and Opposition Leader Chishala Kateka have both appealed to Government to take decisive action before this gets out of control. PF armed its cadres with guns. The speculation is that PF cadres have no source of income since their Party lost power. They have no deals, no contracts and no illegal income from markets and bus stops and so it is being alleged that it is them who are the main source of the escalating crime and armed robberies.

Another major failure of the New Dawn government in the first 100 days is its lack of sensitivity to Gender balance unlike the Patriotic Front. President HH has appointed very few women to positions of responsibility. Numbers do not lie. The analysis of the composition of Cabinet Ministers, Provincial Ministers, District Commissioners, and Permanent Secretaries clearly show that the new administration has done very badly with Gender balance.

President HH raised so much expectations with regard to the fight against corruption, especially that corruption in the Lungu administration was alleged to be of Olympic standards and very conspicuous. He promised the establishment of fast track courts which excited many Zambians but the President does even talk about it. There are many who believe that the fight has been slow. This has even emboldened the alleged corrupt officials to challenge the administration to investigate or carry out forensic audits on them, as it seems like they have already covered their tracks in the three months. It is being argued that in its corruption fight, the New Dawn administration will be closing the stable after the horse has bolted. They will simply not find the evidence.

YOUTH JOB CREATION ROADMAP NON-EXISTENT

One of the major failures of the New Dawn government in the first 100 days is its failure to address the Youth unemployment problem by communicating its roadmap to job creation given that the Youth put them in power. The minimum that the Youth expected was, to be given hope by an announcement of a clear, practical and differentiated Youth employment creation strategy. But when the President was asked about job creation, his answer was he needed to fix the economy first, because jobs do not grow on rocks. The statement clearly showed that the President had no short term solution to job creation. The lack of youth unemployment strategy; which most experts believe could be rolled out in parallel to “fixing the economy”, is frustrating the youth. The minimum the President should do now is to challenge the new Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises together with the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Art, to come up with practical innovative short to medium job creation strategies. President Hakainde needs to change his mind-set of thinking it is him alone who has solutions to Zambia’s problems. It is his government machinery and the Citizens of Zambia including the private sector.

Another weakness and failure of the President, is his bad time keeping. It is very apparent from the beginning that President HH is a bad time keeper and does not seem to be very conscious of time, and is never in a hurry to do things, even those that are urgent. If he continues on this trajectory, he will soon find that he is in 2026 and due for re-election, and most of his programs will still be work in progress. He is well advised to consider learning the US 34th President Dwight Eisenhower time management matrix – the Eisenhower Matrix.

Although the budget was generally hailed as good, there is a substantial section of the Zambian community who were not happy about the Mining Royalty tax being made tax deductible especially that government was to remove fuel and electricity subsidies for Zambians. The Mines have effectively been relieved from paying income tax while Zambians will be required to pay more for fuel and power. This is certainly a failure of the first 100 days. There are many critics of Finance Minister Dr. Musokotwane who believe that he is too cosy to the West and the Mining houses for some unknown reasons. This is because he is the same person who removed Windfall tax in 2009, which the late President Mwanawasa fought bravely to impose on the mines for Zambia’s benefit and the Mines complied.

CONCLUSION

The New dawn administration’s 100 days has been a mixed bag, as demonstrated in this article. President Hakainde Hichilema has not utilized his political capital efficiently and effectively in the first 100 days due to his inexperience in public office. He has tried to run the country as a Corporation which is a grave mistake. And if he continues on this trajectory, he is destined to fail because running a government is more complex than running even the biggest and a trillion Dollar Corporation. There are just too many moving parts in running a government and so there is need for more delegation. In the over 200 years of USA history, only six presidents have been recorded as failures; with five of them being one term Presidents, including Donald Trump recently. Guess what, all of them were business people. President HH needs to learn quickly the principles or skills required in public office. And if he is not careful, he may be like Trump or the other failed businessmen US Presidents, who ended up as one term Presidents.

In the coming days and weeks, President HH is advised to prioritise the following: provide an innovative roadmap for youth job creation, delegate more and challenge ministers to perform by implementing the UPND manifesto through innovative programs, announce fast track corruption courts and amnesty guidelines, state the way forward for KCM and Mopani Copper Mines, accelerate payment of arrears to Zambian suppliers by issuing a government bond ,enforce the 20% sub contracting by foreign contractors to create jobs, address the issue of escalating crime, and review the government communication strategy and messaging, which is all over the place at the moment.

In conclusion, my overall verdict of President HH’s 100 days in office is that he has done fairly well, and so I will award him 7 out 10. Admittedly, this mark is due to the fact that we are coming from a very low base. Zambia had really sunk to its lowest level since independence in so many key areas: collapsed economy, divided country on tribal lines, democracy in peril, collapsed rule of law, compromised institutions like Police, Judiciary, Electoral Commission of Zambia etc and the destruction of Zambians’ human and civil liberties. And so any alternative to the PF rule was going to be better for many independents unless one was a grateful beneficiary of the old system.

27 COMMENTS

  1. Clumping on the hose alleged to have plundered must be done as soon as possible otherwise it will be difficult because they are going to cover up their tracks and if when taken courts of law they can afford to hire best legal brains. Already the ACC is being sued for failure to ac professionally. Things must be done in a timely manner because lost is never recovered.

  2. Bally is Zambia’s 7th President and so it’s mischievous to rate his performance in comparison to that of ECL alone. I wish to strongly disagree on the economic front and job creation. Government doesn’t generate any income, it merely consumes. Therefore one can’t be hailed for adding 41,000 people to the GRZ payroll in one budget year because this is disguised unemployment. There could’ve been significant growth if those jobs were created in the private sector. What we require is a strong private sector and Bally hasn’t made any pronouncements on that except for a paltry allocation to SMEs in this year’s budget. Few Zambians that bear the tax burden have and added 41,000 idlers to feed, thanks to Bally’s misdirection

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  3. Balanced article. 1. Crimes caused by guns given to PF cadres need urgent sorting. UNIP or MMD never did such an irresponsible thing. 2. Mopani & KCM need sorting out. 3. Big companies like Zccm ih, ZESCO, ZAMTEL,zisc etc need to be delinked from IDC. Competition for big companies is fierce. There is need for specialisation and agility.IDC should be for start ups & the President should not be it’s board chairman. 4. Youth unemployment is a big problem. I will not pretend to have the answers. It needs sorting out urgently. Direct intervention methods bleed cash. 5 Zambia should stop being a babazonke country where money can be made & all it repatriated abroad. Ensure Zambian minimum shareholding in companies. Botswana had such a law. Certain businesses like brick making, smallholder…

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  4. You mean the 100 days of travelling aimlessly like a headless chicken, ranting about corruption and doing nothing tangible apart from begging from the west. I wouldn’t be surprised if hh brought the new variant to Zambia

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  5. @Kalima Nkonde
    Where is your evidence that the increase in crime is a result of armed PF cadres who have no source of livelihoods esp. that the PF is no longer in government? And if crime is on the increase, how then does this make the UPND record on human rights to be better. Taking property from people, infringing on their physical security, occasioning bodily harm on them and restricting their movements because of a high incidence in crime does not make any government’s record of human rights to be better. It is an indication of failure to deal with crime and the human rights record it negatively impacts. An increase in crime and the temptation by the police to use heavy-handed crime management control methods that may result in extrajudicial killings only makes society to be even…

  6. @Kalima Nkonde
    … more insecure and does not enable citizens enjoy their individual freedoms and liberties. Finally, it is wrong-headed thinking to insinuate anyone disagreeing with your non-evidence based analysis is a beneficiary of the former regime. Fact of the matter is the cost of doing business with the anticipated increase in commercial bank interest rates will be on the rise. The cost of living is still going up for a country that imports more with high-landed costs. There is no indication from the new government of economists and businessmen on how they will change the monocultural nature of the Zambian economy. They are just parroting Western neo-liberal economic policies that will only benefit multinational mining companies and will not place the Zambian economy in Zambian…

  7. @Kalima Nkonde
    … hands in a long time to come. It will be another five (5) wasted years similar to FTJ’s ten (10) wasted years spent on undoing the strong economic foundation laid by KK which could not be built on. Already, there are indications that INDENI may be up for sale by the privatization conmen in government. So, may be the IDC, MOPANI and KCM and other companies in which the state has a stake.

  8. I thought I would learn something from this write-up but it’s twisted. (1). Yes kudos to Upnd for the freedoms. But freedom is not always absolute. (2) PF handed over the exchange rate to Upnd at K15 and it has gone back to K18 yet you credit it to UPND. (3). You still believe the boys at BRETTON WOODS have the solutions for this country’s problem when you intend to collect less Tax from mines and not find home grown solutions. We have been in that path before and these leaders all pretend to know it all when they don’t know a thing. (4) You mean tension is now gone in this Govt when we had it before elections, Isn’t it always the case when there are elections? Rate Upnd on this during 2026 elections and not now. They might just turn out to be worse (5). Job creation is a disaster…

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  9. The sadist is at it again
    December 30, 2020
    “Our prayers go out to all those in diaspora where they are dying like flies from this virus.”

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  10. “…..One of the major failures of the New Dawn government in the first 100 days is its failure to address the Youth unemployment problem by communicating its roadmap to job creation given that the Youth put them in power. ….”

    This is the main perceived failure of HEHH……

    This depends on the improved economy………

    After the economy is stabilised and is on a definite upward trajectory, expect Youth unemployment to fall drastically………

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  11. I’m happy to have been freed from the horrible thieving Edgar China Lungu, but so far HH has not produced anything. The Kwacha has only depreciated since election day, no corrupt PF cadres have been arrested, I only see the president on the tarmac of KKIA, he is talking about agreements but he hasn’t signed even one, loadshedding is worse than ever – NOT IMPRESSED SO FAR

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  12. This writer must keep everything to himself and see them from his own lenses, every Zambian knows all what HH has or hasn’t done because they live in Zambia, they don’t need a tongue twister to lie to them since live in the promises of the president.
    No dollar gone down, no fuel prices reductions, mealiemeal prices the same no employment for everyone, no K1500 increment for civil servants.
    The list is long who feels it knows it!

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  13. You liars this is no time to campaign go down to work and fulfil your promises.
    The general zambian public have not anything you are talking about because what you promised them is still in limbo.
    HH is still talking can people eat speeches no they want food and reduced prices on essentials.

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  14. What concerns zambians is not nullification of parliamentary seats and spend huge sums of money on by elections and denying students their meal allowances and avoiding creating new jobs for graduates.
    This government is not doing anything substantial for it’s electorate.
    And all we have in ears is bad news closing indeni sending people in the streets very sad indeed for our people who voted for change.

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  15. There is a lot to be done, All Presidents pass through the learning ropes once they are new just like with every career or profession. So far so good from HH, the vibe is the right one and I am sure with time, things will improve. We also know with certainty that the damage done by the PF was so grave and deep that it will require at least 3 solid years to start seeing light at the end of the tunnel. I would urge fellow Zambians that we exercise utmost patience with the new government, obviously there are things that they did not know that will require handling in a different manner once they were in government during campaigning.

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  16. Ba independent analyst says: “It is being alleged that PF cadres are the main source of the escalating crime and armed robberies”. This is outrageous statement and irrational. If you don’t control your tongue ba UPND Zambia can be in danger. Anyway, since you know them, go for them and effect arest.

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  17. Looking at how things have improved so well it is a 100 days worth talking about..
    HH7 should not relent in his quest to lift the standard of this great democratic nation even further..

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  18. When you’re eating bondwe don’t pretend you’re chewing TBone. Prices of commodities are going up. Maybe economists have another way of interpreting the improvement in the economy. Can’t say more than what OBSERVER has said.

  19. At times Zambians should be realistic.. Previous govt left a mountain of debt ..ansd a small amount of money in the coffers how do you expect a new govt to thrieve on that ? Even at your House when you are serving a Loan to your bank you dont expect to be enjoy your net pay the way used to but until you complete paying off your loan.The only failures I see is from the investigating wings the alleged Fire Tenders bought at $1 million dollars each nothing has come out yet. Ambulances?,$500 million dollar loan sign at Zesco Instead of $350million dollars still nothing? Who were the Gassers?And If the small boy didnt tip off the Police about Faith Musonda nothing was going to be known about the K65million down this time.

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  20. #22 See, there’s a difference between marrying someone you have never and marrying someone you know and say you will correct her bad habits in a matter of days.

  21. Independent analyst, my foot! The most important barometer to measure any president is the economy and job creation. How then does a president who has done nothing there get seven out of ten?
    Anyway, the OBSERVER above has already nailed it. Lies have short legs.

  22. Zero, nothing has changed to a youth at the bottom. That youth’s vote looks bleak. 100 days down the line, the article feels like MMD time where theories are saying thing are moving in the right direction while on the ground, it a different story.
    As doubting thomases, we need practical and tangible results from promises we got. Ala!

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