LUSAKA, Oct. 4 - Senior chief Mwata Kazembe of the Lunda people is justified in saying God is great that Zambians are still surviving after 40 years of independence.
During the last 40 years, Zambians have gone through a lot of economic hardship mainly arising from the lack of focussed leadership. It is true that Zambians need direction out of their problems but there seems to be no one in sight to give that direction.
However, this problem is not difficult to understand. The major problem is that in today's politics, we have allowed a situation where one would be elected to State House without a programme of action. For that reason, even the opposition parties may not be very important because they do not hold government accountable for anything. It is therefore difficult to measure the performance of a president and his ministers. And since it is not easy to measure the success of these politicians, they don't really care about developing the country for the benefit of its citizens.
Right now they are talking about Millennium Development Goals which are not set by the government. But when one looked around in the region and elsewhere where leadership is focussed, one would find that every day has a programme of action. For example, South African President Thabo Mbeki has given himself a programme of action on which he can be held accountable. So it will be easier for South Africans to tell whether or not President Mbeki is working towards achieving his goals. And if not, they can easily made a decision to serve their best interests.
In the past during the Kaunda regime, we had development plans which the government set for itself. There were time frames set for achieving certain things and after a period of time, performance on those plans was assessed.
Unfortunately, the government at the time had a culture of setting standards but citizens did not. This was unfortunate because government is the manager while citizens approve issues that the government will manage for them.
That system of development plans paid off because it helped citizens to see the government vision and followed up successes and failures. In short, the leadership had a vision.
But what we have now is a clear example of Frederick Chiluba's third term attempt. His supporters or those who wanted a third term for Chiluba were saying he needed to have a third term so as to finish his programmes. The main reason for this they claimed, was that Chiluba had not finished his programme. But apart from the people pushing the third term campaign, no one knew that programme.
That is the core problem because a leader will not be held accountable on anything. President Mwanawasa has gone over half of his term but unemployment and poverty levels are still high and yet he brags that his administration has achieved a lot. Schools are in a deplorable state while hospitals have no medicines. So what is there to really boast about when people think they have been surviving by the grace of God?
President Mwanawasa will leave State House and another leader will continue from where he would end without a programme of action.
The way forward is to demand a programme of action from people who aspire to leadership. Let them provide a programme of action so that they can be held accountable and also to enable citizens gauge their performance against their programme of action. As long as we allow them to say 'I am qualified' or 'I am the best choice to be your leader' without a programme of action which has a set time frame, we will continue to go in this same circle.
The Post / allAfrica Global Media
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