The Zambia Episcopal Conference recently held a press conference at which they made wide ranging observations on where they think the PF administration is failing. The key paragraph that jumped out for me is this one :
In our past statements in 2013, we consistently appealed to government to promote a culture of consultation as a basis of policy and decision making. Ruling by decrees is not only undemocratic but also denies our country the benefit of bright ideas that could be offered by many citizens not in positions of decision making. Some decrees have led to policies that raise great challenges to implement. In the past we have talked about decrees on creation of a multitude of districts; today it is the issue of using local languages as a mode of instruction at lower primary in our schools and then the issue of SI No. 103
This is an important statement. As I have previously noted, effective policy making is not just about having right policies (if such exists), but also the right processes of reaching policy decisions. Transparency and national consensus are key ingredients for sustainable and effective long term policies. Not "governing by decrees" or as the "know it all".
More importantly, if the government is genuinely confident about the decisions its making, there is no reason why it should not subject them to significant public scrutiny by way of consultation. Without transparency we shall keep inventing and re-inventing. The party in government must stop behaving like it will always hold the reins of power, and begin to accept that transition is part of the democratic process and as such it must govern not just for today but for tomorrow.
Some foolish paid people are doing the rounds on Facebook pages crying for anyone who challenges GRZ to offer "solutions". But where should the solutions be given when there's no public consultation over major policies? Even when policies are opposed by the public some corrupt ministers circumvent the will of the people. This is what we are seeing currently with the decision to allow Zambezi Resources Limited to establish and open cast mine in the Lower Zambezi National Park.
Chola Mukanga | Economist
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