Finance minister Alexander Chikwanda’s visit to Chavuma and Zambezi was very important.
Alex is not only a very important minister of this government but also an extremely important political figure with immense political experience and knowledge of this country and its people.
Alex has great influence. He has a voice that is respected and listened to. But we don’t think that that voice is as often heard as it should and as it is needed. Yes, Alex knows a lot about running and managing the finances of our country. But that is not the only reason he is in government for. We don’t think Michael Sata appointed him to be finance minister simply because he knows how to keep and manage figures in his head. We would like to believe, and we think we are right in believing so, that Michael appointed Alex to be his finance minister because of Alex’s love for his country and his people and his understanding of the problems that stress them every day.
Alex is a revolutionary without qualification. Any person who sacrifices himself, his life, his wellbeing, his future for the love of his people, for the love of the country in which he was born or a country he has chosen to be his homeland is a revolutionary. Of course, there are many types of revolutionaries, but Alex is a revolutionary without qualification. His life has been shaped by his involvement in the everyday struggles of the Zambian people. Alex is a revolutionary without ego, one who has always been ready to serve his people and his homeland in any way and in any capacity. Alex has served as a party youth leader. And as a university graduate, he accepted to be deployed in a far-flung remote area of Zambia, hundreds or thousands of kilometres from the part of Zambia where he was born. He was sent to Zambezi to be district governor with his degree in economics from Sweden. He rose through the ranks to be minister of this and that, including being minister of finance. Alex is today again, after so many years, Minister of Finance. We have heard other people say ‘I have been minister before, I’ve been this and that before, the only thing I can now be is president’. This is not the case with Alex. This revolutionary accepted even the job of being chief of staff of Frederick Chiluba. Others in Alex’s position, with Alex’s background, would have considered this a low job. But Alex believed this was service not to Chiluba but to his homeland and to the people of Zambia and he accepted that job. Alex helped Chiluba avoid a lot of excesses, mistakes and abuses in the interest of Zambia and the Zambian people.
A man with such a spirit, with such love for the country and the people should never be kept away or keep himself far away from the people. Alex needs to get closer and closer to the people. Alex has the ability to explain in the simplest form very complex economic, social and political problems. Alex is not doing much of this. Why?
There are many things, many projects, many programmes and other undertakings that this government is involved in which are not being adequately explained to the people. As finance minister and as one of the leading political figures in this government, people would like to hear Alex’s voice on this issue. People want to meet Alex, listen to him, talk to him and shake hands with him. Yes, there is a lot of work to be done in Lusaka, but there is also a lot of work to be done in places far away from Lusaka – in Chavuma, Zambezi, Namushakende, Sinazeze, Sindamisale, Kaputa, Chiengi and other poor and rural places of our country. And Alex’s wisdom, experience, clarity needs to be shared with the people of these places. There is a tendency by Zambian finance ministers to detach themselves from the masses of our people and limit their contacts to meeting financiers of the country and business people only. But they are not agents of financiers and business people. They are representatives of the masses of our people. These are the people who really matter or who should really matter in their daily dealings.
We would, therefore, want to see Alex take his message to the masses of our people. We know he is a busy man who even hardly has time to travel abroad for meetings. But whatever time Alex has, it will be better spent if a part of it, a fraction of it, is spent with the masses of our people in the rural areas.
Alex spoke about the stagnation and retrogression in the once vibrant and promising rural areas of Zambezi and Chavuma. Alex was shocked to see the stagnation and retrogression in these areas. Why? It is because he doesn’t go there; he is not visiting many rural areas. What he saw in Zambezi and Chavuma is exactly what will greet him in Sinazeze, Sindamisale, Sinjembela, Kaputa or Chiengi.
These experiences, these contacts should increase and influence Alex in his daily decisions as finance minister. This will help him allocate resources in a manner that answers more and more to the needs of the greater majority of our people. A Chinese proverb says “Better for one family to weep than a hundred clans (the needs of many outweigh the needs of a few)”.
Alex, as a revolutionary, an outstanding one for that matter, is in government for a reason. And we believe a bit of the reason is to throw little torches out to lead people through the dark, in the dark parts of our country.
Alex has the influence. And this influence should be put to good use and shouldn’t be stored away. It is said that the key to successful leadership is influence, not authority. Alex has both.
Alex can use his influence and authority to motivate large groups of individuals in our country to improve their lot, to improve the human condition.
Explanations of what is being done shouldn’t be left only to Michael, Patriotic Front secretary general Wynter Kabimba and a few others. All key leaders of this government need to get to the people and be as close as possible to the people and explain what is being done.
It is said that the greatest delight of life is a feeling of being near and necessary to the people. Our country and our government will do much better if all our leaders, especially our key leaders like Alex, get closer and closer to the people so that they can feel the people’s pulse, the people’s mood, the people’s anxieties, the people’s sorrows, the people’s joys and hopes in their own breasts.
And the prestige of this government lies, and will always lie, in how many prestigious leaders it has. This government needs more and more Michaels, not one Michael. And Alex is among those leaders in this government that are better placed, better suited to make more Michaels a reality. And the only way this can be done is by getting closer and closer to the people.