MY ENCOUNTER WITH COLLINS NZOVU
By Chibamba Kanyama
I was privileged to be part of the Government-Public and Private sector delegation to Helsinki, Finland recently. Bridges limited was supported by the Finish Government via AGS.
The Hon Minister of Green Economy and Environment Mr Collins Njovu led the delegation. He was the 10th Minister under the new regime with whom I have had close encounters, lasting several hours through which I provided my honest assessments on a number of issues.
Being with Mr. Nzovu for a week,residing in same hotel, riding in same bus every day, having joint meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner); holding preparatory meetings daily -gave me some useful insights about the calibre of these ministers. Some of these insights are worth sharing.
I appreciated the way the Minister managed the whole assignment/mission in Finland; gave it utmost seriousness to the extent those of us from the private sector felt the intensity of engagement. We had early preparatory meetings where he expected all of us to be on time; further requiring from each one of us to state our objectives for the day and possible take-aways. He demanded that we all got to all appointments on time (we were apparently NEVER late to any of those back-to-back meetings; even those out of town). The way he engaged intellectually and diplomatically at every meeting, most of them involving Finish Ministers was top notch (Between 2006 and 2013,I accompanied ministers on aimilar missions; and I found this one to be at another level). Above all, the kind of leadership the Minister provided to the whole team was an indication government is not treating these foreign trips to be ‘business as usual’.
Interestingly, my learnings from my experience with Mr. Nzovu is what I found with nearly all the other ministers I have so far engaged (I am yet to meet a few more out of their own request). The Ministers are highly focused on getting value for the country from every engagement. My view is that the ministers have been overshadowed by the strong personality of President Hakainde Hichilema but they take after him in the way they remain focused on issues and how they articulate them. I have, as a consequence, understood for the first time why it took the President quite long to put his cabinet together. Given another one year, the country will begin to fully understand the calibre of these ministers.
I remain happy that I am not part of the system but consulted from time to time to render my independent advice on a number of issues. As long as these officials remain focused on issues of national interest, I pledge my support, even if provided by way of constructive criticism. May God bless them.