Abstract Public Policy

Honorable Kambwili would have done well to change the name of the “Disater” stadium without giving the people of Zambia an insight into the Government decision making process.

The impression that all it took was for the President to override a full Cabinet decision to change the name raises very many troubling questions.

So who made the disastrous decision without seeking  consensus with all interested parties including the Football Association which is the most obvious immediate interested party?

Surely football house should have been the first very logical port of call? Is our public policy decision making process so distant from realities from the ground? Is that why so many decision being made which are incredulous and totally out of synchronization with the general interest of the population?  Public policy decision making requires that the formulation, adoption, implementation, evaluation, or indeed change of policy are undertaken in a systematic and transparent manner to reflect the best collective effort. In fact public policy can be described as a democratic process of solving problems.

Therefore public policy decision making at whatever level, must reflect collective will of the community by ensuring , adjustment and adaptation to reflect the widest possible aspiration in the context of available resources. The process must incorporate diversity of perspectives starting from those directly concerned to those directly affected  to those marginal affected by  collateral effect.

One variable however remains constant, namely that public policy must reflect the widest possible compromises on how best to achieve the intended goals and aspirations. Public policy decision making differs from private or individual decision making. Public policy desires to satisfy aggregate needs while private intentions deal with micro interests.

Added to the matrix of public policy is the concept of collective responsibility. In other words whatever decision Cabinet makes becomes binding on all. No single individual, however opposed or supportive can express an opinion against it.  Any such attempt would be in breach of the Ministerial code of conduct.

That is why Vice President Dr. Guy Scott did not express a personal opinion when he addressed Parliament on the “disastrous” stadium. He instead said Government was consulting on the name before responding to public concerns. On the contrary Hon Kambwili was less constrained. We saw him speaking on phone and the next thing, he announced that the President had decided to change the name.

The question then is, who decided on the name in the first place. Was it Cabinet? The wider implication is obvious. Who decided the names of the other important institutions including airports and stadia? Was there any consultation to arrive at the best possible names or do we see the next Government reversing the names in order to arrive at a more inclusive approach to national issues?

At a broader level questions will undoubtedly be asked regarding the decision making process on such important issues as the current standoff between the Government and Law Association of Zambia over the position of Chief Justice.

Other questions as previously raised in Parliament include the appointment of Director of Public Prosecutions, Diplomats, removal of subsidies and creation of Districts. How are decisions made and do they always reflect the best interests of the Zambian people?

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