Sunday, 10 June 2007



By Gershom Ndhlovu

This week I reproduce a reaction I received from a reader to my column “Regulate Presidential Gifts.” “I thank you for your wise suggestion to 'Regulatepresidential gifts'. However, do not just stop there.I feel people have reacted very emotionally becauseever since we got our independence, they have neverunderstood the 'Presidency' as an institution and thesecrecy that surrounds it.
After all, the “Shushushus”/Intelligence exist primarily for that.Now that our 'Transparent' current President hasunveiled it, there is need to educate ourselves aboutit.
Why can't you suggest that our university studentsand anyone interested research widely on it, from thetime it was instituted in Zambia, up to date?
I am still curious about how much was spent digging thosetunnels, the salary structure for the 'Shushushus',the presidential trips abroad including those thataccompany them, allowances and transport for thedancing women at the airport, the money for thepresident's treatment abroad and for the ongoingmaintenance of the 'Presidency'.
Is the ZAMTROP Account still open or has it changed names? While still at it may be we can extent the research to comparing how other 'Presidencies' including Monarchies are run andwhich country is the most extravagant. It might beinteresting to watch other leaders' faces when theirunderwears (sic) are being counted in public.
I have always thought the institution in its present structure istoo expensive for nothing especially for developingcountries. In fact, the only time I see things running alittle bit better in this country is when parliamentis dissolved. But instead of being angry and callingour former and current leaders names for running theinstitution in accordance with the way they hadinherited it, let us use whatever information we come upwith to restructure the whole institution and come upwith one more affordable and useful to the Zambianpeople?” The author signs off as Concerned Zambian.
There are a lot of pertinent issues raised by “Concerned Zambian” on the issue of the Presidency. First and foremost, the primary source of the President’s powers is the Republican Constitution which should be the starting point for anybody who wants to research that institution.
As you may be aware, my dear Concerned Zambian, various NGOs including the Law Association of Zambia through its membership of the Oasis Forum, are fighting, and rightly so, for the amendment of the Constitution so that the President’s powers are curtailed by that important piece of law whose amendment Mr Mwanawasa seems to be dragging his feet about.
To further understand how the Zambian Presidency has functioned and operated, it would be of importance to access Cabinet documents, which in other parts of the world are declassified after 40, years because that is where major decisions are made and parliament just rubber stamps them.
Another very important document any serious student of government and politics ought to follow keenly is the weekly Government Gazette in which all government decisions deemed legal, should be announced including how much the president earns and everybody else employed by government. Statutory Instruments are also another mine of important information about government operations from time to time.
As for the operations and functions of the Zambia State Intelligence and Security also known as Office of the President (Special Division), it would be important to look at the institution’s governing Act.
It appears to me that under President Chiluba, the smoothing running of government broke down because most of the important procedures were either ignored or simply done away with to facilitate illegalities to be carried out.
As for those that accompany the president on foreign trips, in most cases not less than 40 people in an entourage, they are paid for by Cabinet Office according to their gazetted entitlements depending on the destination.
For the women who are ferried to the airports, it is some local arrangement based on coercion and pay-outs by the local party organ and also the provision of transport by parastatal companies.
This is by no means exhaustive but merely scratches the surface of what really goes on behind the scenes.—

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