23 December 2011, 08:41
Prior to its electoral victory in the September 20th general election, Zambia’s ruling party (then main opposition) Patriotic Front pledged to achieve meaningful development within 90 days of being in office.
This generally endorsed proclamation has been looked at differently from various political players; one side sees this as a benchmark to gauge the PFs performance while for others this is a stepping stone towards better development.
Also, upon assuming office President Michael Sata reaffirmed this pledge, particularly when he officially opened parliament stating that the country would have a new people driven constitution within 90 days.
Today marks the end of the 90 days but has the PF lived up to its promise?
To a small extent PF hasn’t as some things are yet to be achieved. Most notably the constitution which will not be ready within 90 days, because president Sata has set up a 30 member commission tasked to come up with a people driven constitution within a year.
On a broader sense though the PF has scored some achievements during this period among them:
1. Revamping the fight against corruption, this is evident through the appointment of credible and quality personnel in integral institutions like the Anti Corruption Commission, Drug Enforcement Commission, Police, Director of Public Prosecution and Attorney General’s Chambers. Some appointments in other areas however have been marred by a few individuals perceived to be wrong appointments. These are the intended appointment of Xavier Chungu as permanent secretary (Chungu was at the helm of the corruption scandal of the earlier Regime of late former president Frederick Chiluba) and Emmanuel Mwamba also as permanent secretary (Mwamba was spokesperson for former President Chiluba). The latter was appointed as permanent secretary despite having criminal cases pending in court, the former was not sworn-in following public outcry.
2. Moving the provincial capital of southern province from Livingstone to Choma. A decision aimed at decentralising business of the province. Livingstone remains the tourist capital of the country.
3. Creation of a Tenth province called Muchinga created from separating towns from the Northern Province. This also aims at decentralising developmental projects to the area.
4. Renaming of airports after the country’s freedom fighters. That is, Lusaka airport renamed as Kenneth Kaunda international airport, Ndola Airport as Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe international Airport, Livingstone airport as Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula International airport.
5. Reduction of presidential international trips. Since being elected president Sata has only left Zambia once for a summit recently held in Uganda. Of course, this has lessened unnecessary expenditure by the president considering reports that the previous government in a single year spent close to K40 billion on presidential trips alone. However, this thriftiness by President Sata must extend to his ministers who have continued to abuse public resources for personal reasons. (This week president Sata’s own close affiliate Vice President Guy Scott was reported mismanaging public time and resources and when he was spotted at the Kenneth Kaunda Airport picking up his daughter).
6. Abolition of medical user fees in hospitals countrywide.
7. Setting up of commission of inquiries into many unresolved issues from the previous government. like the Barotse Agreement which resulted in the killings of people in Zambia’s Mongu town in western province. Also, inquiries into the ZAMTEL saga.
8. Dissolving defunct boards for numerous parastatal boards among them Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) board, Road Development Agency (RDA) board and setting up of commission of inquiries to probe the institution on graft.
9. Handing over of Finance Bank to its local owners after discovering irregularities in its initial sale to First National Bank (FNB).
10. Reduction of the price of fuel within the first month of the PFs tenure in office which consequently led to reduced prices of transport and other basic commodities like mealie-meal.
11. Revealing high levels of corruption in the previous regime through the digging up of over K2 billion buried underground at a farm house of a former Labour minister.
12. Seizure of property and equipment from former officials who cannot account for them.
13. Inclusion of over 80,000 public workers for tax exemption through the increased Pay As You Earn (PAYE) threshold.
14. Increasing the percentage of mineral royalty’s tax in the mines from three to six per cent to enable the government benefit from the mines.
15. Reduction of the size of government through reduced number of ministries.
16. Creation of a new ministry to specifically deal with traditional chiefs and their affairs.
17. Appointment of the first white vice president since Zambia gained independence in 1964, thus positioning Zambia as a Nation open to different cultures and ethnicity.
18. Stating clearly that Zambia as a Christian nation will be governed under the 10 commandments of the bible. Most notably is the commandment of “thou shall not steal”
These and many other landmarks have been reached by the PF within 90 days at the helm of power.
But despite the achievements there have been some blunders among them nomination of 10 MPs by the president instead of the stipulated eight, setting up of many commissions of inquiry without transparent systems of monitoring their expenditure. Abolishing the Secretary to the treasury (this was later reversed) and publicly accusing a foreign business man of stealing gold seized by the DEC who refutes the claim and in turn has sued the state for huge sums of money.
But according to the country’s media, among them the Post newspaper, President Michael Sata’s PF cannot be expected to deliver everything within 90 days.
“That is unrealistic. PF cannot be judged as having failed based on this 90 days proclamation. They are in office for 5 years and not 90 days. There will be more 90 days to come” the Publication stated in its editorial.
As such, considering that the PF is in office for 5 years, 90 days is just a tip of the iceberg. And what has been achieved in this period may very well be achieved in the next 1735 days to come.