President Edgar Lungu has today made a shakeup to his Cabinet, a long awaited move that has got many Zambians excited, well, for obvious reasons. We actually began this week with a shock reshuffle at the Ministry of Finance which caught the entire nation by surprise. The Sunday reshuffle was announced at night – Margaret Mwanakatwe had been dropped and Dr Bwalya Ng’andu, who was the Bank of Zambia Deputy Governor, was appointed in her place.
In today’s reshuffles, Sports minister Moses Mawere has been fired while higher education minister Professor Nkandu Luo has been moved to Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries.
Transport Minister Dr Brian Mushimba becomes higher education minister while Mawere has been replaced by Ndola Central member of parliament Emmauel Mulenga.
Others are Minister in the office of the Vice President Sylvia Chalikosa who moves to works and supply while housing and infrastructure minister Ronald Chitotela moves to Ministry of Tourism. Vincent Mwale takes over from Chitotela as housing and infrastructure minister while Charles Banda who was at Tourism has moved to Local Government.
Works and supply minister Mutotwe Kafwaya moves to Ministry of Transport and Communication; fisheries and livestock minister Kampamba Mulenga Chewe moves to Ministry of Community Development while Olipa Phiri moves to the office of the Vice President.
In a statement issued by his press aide Isaac Chipampe today, President Edgar Lungu warned that he will not hesitate to kick out any minister who will not improve in their performance of duties. According to President Lungu, he wants to rejuvenate the performance of his ministers because overstaying in one position can ultimately affect their performance. The other key remark made by the President is the fact that some ministers have not been visiting their constituencies regularly to ensure government projects and programmes are implemented and monitored.
In all honesty, if we were to rate President Lungu’s performance this week based on these developments, we would actually give him a score of 9 out of 10. Ending the week on such a note gives the people hope that the Head of State desires the best for them, and that can only happen if his lieutenants, the ministers, perform to the expected levels.
Let us look at the President’s decision to fire the sports minister: Mawere called for this. His people in Chipata Constituency have for a very long time been complaining about how he hardly visits the area to check on them, and of course to see progress made on the many development projects that the government is undertaking. His explanation has always been that he was always busy attending to ministry duties. With the favour done to him by President Lungu, we are certain Mawere will now make his constituency his home, like many other PF members of parliament we know (some of whom have ministerial positions) that are regularly on the ground in their constituencies.
For Prof Luo, her movement from the Ministry of Higher Education was long overdue. She had created an environment where nobody in the sector could advise on how to approach this critical ministry. Prof Luo made a number of decisions that flouted the law while in that ministry. For instance, the suspension or intention to abolish student unions in universities and colleges was against the law. Secondly, her handling of student and lecturer affairs at UNZA and CBU has been one of the worst so far. Actually, her behaviour on some of the decisions made put into question the credentials she holds. Universities are among the most populated constituencies that can either make or break a government and it would have been impetuous for President Lungu to keep someone who was clearly making his government and party unpopular in areas that can give him massive votes at election time.
Let us come to Kampamba Mulenga Chewe. President Lungu has been noticing Kampamba’s dedication to community works in her constituency and other areas that have received support from the government through the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries where she has been only for a short time. Kampamba is a good organizer; she is a real and strong politician. Community development suits her and we are 100 per cent sure she will fit in very well in this area. She has, in her community, been mobilizing her constituents and supporting them to undertake a variety of income generating activities. She is actually on the ground most of the time and knows her constituency like the back of her palm.
Another noteworthy decision is that of Dr Mushimba’s movement to the Ministry of Higher Education. This man is one of the most sober ministers President Lungu has and on this one, he has made an excellent pick for a higher education portfolio that requires a sober mind to handle lecturers and ‘troublesome’ students. With him in that ministry, there is hope that the CBU will be reopened after a sober discussion is held with the unions and management. He has welcomed this new challenge through a tweet saying “Extremely humbled and privileged to have served at MTC the last three years. I welcome the new challenge as I move to higher education. Among many pressing and immediate interventions, Re-opening CBU is a priority”.
Another minister who has hit the ground running is Vincent Mwale, who has equally tweeted “Ready for the new challenge, low cost housing is my priority”.
Lastly, let us look at the movement of Chitotela from the Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure Development to Tourism. The Pambashe member of parliament had in recent past come under fire from civil society, the opposition and other Zambians after the Anti-Corruption Commission arrested him on a charge of concealing property suspected to be proceeds of crime. They called for his removal or resignation from government, but none of these two happened. He was later acquitted by the court. Chitotela was in charge of a ministry that oversees all infrastructure projects we are seeing in this country – projects worth millions of dollars. His movement from this ministry is a good decision by President Lungu so that he can take a ‘break’ from one controversial ministry after his recent court cases.