In a universally accepted definition, decentralization is said to be the process of distributing or dispensing functions, powers, people or things away from a central location or authority. (Wikipedia).

In such or any similar undertaking, ability and capacity are issues or elements that you can only compromise at your own peril. It would be difficult for a country to adopt a carefree attitude towards recruitment of professionals, who are critical. This observation, applies to any entity and for the purposes of this article, I draw a distinction between “political center pivots”, and the real center pivots used for irrigation.

Friends, it is just not possible to include each and every mundane detail of life in the Constitution or other subordinate legislation and this is part of the reason that the government machinery is authorized by law to produce Statutory Instruments (SI) on a need basis and the Courts are in a very good and strong position to address lacunas in the law and that only happens when you move the Court!

Elsewhere, it has been argued and I am sure there are counter arguments that merit is critical in the delivery of development. Now, check, there is no reference to formal education, which process is the making of any society (values and standards) and nothing but for its good. There has to be a standard so that arbitrariness is not accommodated. Arbitrariness can be a very serious problem and challenge and we have seen how it has allowed for impunity in the management of public affairs.

I did say last week that in every instance, there will be an exception but you cannot shy away from setting standards because of exceptions. There will be many varied definitions of meritocracy  but I prefer the one which holds and “ refers to a society that is governed by people selected according to merit – it is said that Britain is a meritocracy and everyone with skill and imagination may aspire to reach the highest level” (Wikipedia) Note that there is no reference to education, but implied. In the same vein it is expected that nobody will acquire or access education in order to defeat the law.  In pursuit of the duty of care, which some individuals refuse to carry, it is not only ridiculous for a pilot to offer to fly a plane into a building but a serious crime that offends civility! We will talk about challenges associated with formal education next week.

By contrast though, Communist China, as undemocratic as it may be, has emerged from a literally poor nation to rank among the economic power houses of the world. The Chinese phenomena, is not an accident! Clearly it involved serious planning and some of the readers will recall how the Chinese government arraigned the gang of four (4), which was very powerful and included the widow of Chairman Mao  Jiang Qinq.

We all know that Chairman Mao was the boss of the Communist party and the leader of the People’s Republic of China for a long time. The point being made here is neither about China nor Chairman Mao but that which I made a few weeks ago in reference to Cuban Generals in Angola (They had to face the wrath of the law in spite of their heroic exploits in Angola). That is the beauty of merit, which is a product of a rigorous schooling system, and like the law as strictly applied, offers no exceptions.  It is neural and is not supposed to be influenced by any other considerations outside the subject matter!

As such groups such as the mafia or shadowy syndicates and cartels will not wish to embrace the practice of meritocracy or even the rule of law because it is possible that their favorite person (criminal agent) may be found wanting. Is it possible that a procurement officer, who is a member of any cartel or syndicate, can use merit in making a purchasing decision. It really is a gray area weighing heavily on the side of the club! It is not strange therefore that members of such outfits, will do all that is possible – both legal and illegal to “keep each others’ back” (sic).

For instance, in blowing the trumpet for the rule of law, the Police and all security wings are creations of the State, which state is created by the Zambian people.  By that act and others, Zambians have a legitimate expectation! At what point would any person who is a Zambian elect to ignore or abuse state power say by telling off or attacking police officers?  In the commercial sphere, it can neither be reasonable nor honorable to issue a Cheque, on an insufficiently funded account (an illegal situation).  The banks would collapse, if individuals with loan facilities choose or elect not to service the said loans.  It is no wonder that some financial institutions are struggling and burdened with troublesome loans.

It is my submission that we all want a Smart Zambia. A Zambia, which is not a country by geographical description but a Zambia where citizens can and do aspire to do their best in a chosen field. In making my submission for a Smart Zambia, I also want to argue that a Smart Zambian will and can never be an accident or any act of benevolence. We must, just like others have done, work at it and change our country for better.

You may have issues with say the Americans for what others call meddling in other people’s internal affairs. ( I think it would be great though, to draw a distinction between meddling in internal affairs and behavior reflecting the tragic practice that mighty is right)

The reference to America above, brings us to the current crisis in Zambia, where there is an attempt to redefine the rules of democracy to include an aspect of violence, however classified. Early this week, I visited Southern Province in the company of the Republican President, Senior Ministers, Senior Patriotic Front (PF) officials, including PF Members of the Central Committee. The meetings I attended, where well serviced by very Senior Civil Servants and well attended by local residents, who happen to be citizens of this country and clearly, desire and deserve the best.

It is unreasonable, it is illogical and it is an affront to democracy and certainly a challenge to civility, if and when any citizen decides or elects to stop another from either seeing or meeting his or her only Republican President. I witnessed how innocent and young persons, including adults struggled to either see or shake hands of President Edgar Lungu, who equally was visibly happy meeting his fellow Zambians.

It is therefore not very farfetched to argue that our most cherished prize of peace, could very easily elude us and if it does, a thing that should never happen, we will all have good reasons to conclude that our government needs to prioritize security of person as well as property. It would be tragic for instance, if any  of the projects in the country representing great strides in the area of infrastructure development, was visited by planned strife.

Now with regard to the violence that erupted in Bweengwa, last week, a casual response or call for cooperation will not suffice. This country has laws and we keep our security officers on the pay roll – paid by tax payers so that they can maintain both security of person and security of property.  Delinquent behaviors, any act of hooliganism or forms of expression which offend law are a real threat to peace and cannot go unchallenged legally. Whatever happens therefore must only happen within the four corners of the law.   Acting in self defense in circumstances permitted by law is understandable. But to take the law in one’s hands just like Boko Haram or Al Shebab, does is highly unacceptable and repugnant to natural justice.  I challenge the Police and whosoever to deal with this issue and acquit themselves professionally without fear or favor.  If the police do not bring the perpetrators of crime to book, confidence in the police will understandably wane and that it not good for our Zambia.

Zambia has been known as an Oasis of peace and political preferences, which have been a major source of conflict elsewhere, should not be allowed to creep in to crowd real issues. One of the real issues that we should be focusing our energies on is the threatening hunger situation in the country. It is a fact that we have had very bad rains and judging from testimonies as well as visual assessments, soon, hunger will be knocking on our doors.  Since hunger is a real possibility, I would argue that it is only prudent that we do not direct our energies in undertakings which take away from our ability to better ourselves.  If for instance, one is arrested for any established offense, the act has several consequences and implications, such as responding to unbudgeted expenses and thereby putting pressure on the Treasury.

If the global community responded to challenges of international conflict by setting up the then League of Nations and later the United Nations Organization, there is and would be no good reason for Zambia to gravitate towards open war fare. I hope by next week, the Police would have told us that action has been taken and that no such ugly incident anywhere in Zambia, will be entertained. Slow responses or  compromised decision making has a tendency to encourage perpetrators and in particular those who counsel and encourage crimes but elect to remain in comfort zones. Let’s talk next week.

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