Unfortunately this is the widely held delusion we have come to call the "dedicated fellow hypothesis". It states that no matter how many good policies political parties promise, or how much institutional reform we undertake, character is paramount to delivering development to Zambia. There’s a false delusion among many Zambian commentators (and would be political saviours) that character and steadfastness is the answer to all our problems. But even if one was to entertain this idea, it suffers from two practical problems. First, how do you find these 'selfless fellows' who will implement NAREP’s wonder policies? Secondly, and perhaps of crucial importance, how do you get them to be involved in development after investing personal fortune to get into power? Whats is to say they will not follow the class of 1991, who rationally sought a return from state coffers for sacrificing much? Without answering these two fundamental questions, the NAREP leadership model fails to sufficiently address how you get the best from the 'poor bunch'.The National Restoration Party (NAREP) believes that Zambia’s failure to find solutions to its present problems is really a question of leadership. Not only can Zambia propel itself to greatness; for the sake of the majority of its disadvantaged citizens, it must do so. However, our nation will need to promote the emergence of the type of national leadership that can offer a vision that goes beyond the ordinary. Our nation needs leadership that believes politics should be about people rather than just about power.
Zambia has many good selfless intelligent individuals, the question is how do we first get these individuals to be involved in national leadership, or to put it more starkly, how do we make the good emerge from a large pool of very bad politicians? The obvious answer is that you need good institutions or policies designed to attract them. But this assumption immediately creates a paradox or vicious cycle - you need some initial institutional policies that encourage these selfless individuals to be involved who'll then deliver other development related policies, but to have the initial institutional policies you must have some selfless individuals who make them happen! It is this problem that creates difficulties and one not acknowledged by NAREP and others.
I don't pretend to have an answer to this paradox but I would say we should concentrate our efforts on finding some initial institutional policies because it is a more objective target. We should initially focus on ensuring that the political institutions delivered the right incentives for appropriate individuals to take part in the political governance of the country. One way of doing this is to ensure that you have a strong constitution in place that is culturally self consistent, you create a proper economic consensus that is uniquely Zambian, and most importantly you find ways of engaging people with knowledge in a non-committal way.
When you have the right policies that repair the political institutions, more or less the right individuals will emerge. A good political arena will have the right checks and balances and it won't matter whether a person is selfless or not. The system will ensure they delivered the right policies for the people. So my rallying call to all Zambians is let's get the institutions sorted out (starting with a new constitution, organisations that taps into Zambian expertise abroad, etc) and everything will begin to fall into place. But obviously that very process is not so straightforward given the vicious circularity discussed above. What is clear is that this is where NAREP should focusing their effort not their empty motif.