Reflections on the first year: after his election victory in September 2011, President Michael Sata appointed Dr Guy Scott as his vice-president. Here, he talks about some of the issues and challenges the new administration has faced. Darren Moore interviewed him in Lusaka.

Author:Moore, Darren
Position:INTERVIEW - Patriotic Front (Zambia - Interview
 
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Q: It has been one year since the Patriotic Front took power in Zambia. What are some of the limitations and surprises that you have encountered since being in office?

A: I think the main limitation is that you come in as an outsider and you are an entirely new feature on the political landscape. For example, in Britain when there's a general election, no matter how unlikely it may be that the opposition will take over from the government, everybody is briefed, everybody gets the same information and the civil servants are almost as much at the disposal of the opposition as they are at the disposal of the governing party, so there are minimum hiccups that you cross or encounter.

We had a very different situation. No one could have been really prepared. The system in Zambia works in such a way that no one is prepared for a change in government, it just came as a complete surprise. Then you had the problem of sorting out a lot of people in key positions, the permanent secretaries for example are there for reasons of nepotism, so you have issues of trust with the civil service even after you have taken over.

It's almost a psychological phenomenon because we are kind of half way between a US and a British political system; it's not always entirely clear whether you can change the top five levels of your government, as is the practice in the US, or whether the same professional civil servants at all levels carry on working with a new government. In practice, it's a mixture as some of the permanent secretaries and directors must be changed quite quickly and replaced by "loyalists" while others are expected to adjust to the new leadership. Of course this uncertainty has very unsatisfactory consequences in many ways as some people think they may be dismissed quite soon so they need to make whatever money they can immediately, so it can create an unfortunate burst of corruption during this time.

Then, of course, there is the corruption that is not part of or caused by the election, but is part of the previous government and you have to start to root that out, and that is very difficult. It could be blamed partly on the constitution that is not clear but also on the previous administration which was in power for 20 years and believed that it was going to rule forever.

Q: In talking about the transitional process, do you think that you have reached a level that you are actually happy now within the process?

A: No I don't think we are happy yet, but I...

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