"You are welcome my son!" My Grandma said as she was welcoming me when I had gone to visit her at the village. "O thank you grandma", I replied with a gigantic smile. This was my first time in 10 years since I left the village in 1991 when I was 10 years, and this was also after I lost my Mother and Grandfather. My grandma has been looking forward to my coming. My friends that I was with at school in grade one at Mbonge primary school also came to welcome. My visit to the village was full of expectation so everyone at the village wanted to see me. I could hear my former classmates whispering to each other as they admired my growth and progress in life. I could also hear some of my colleagues saying Ba Kelvin bakoma (meaning Kelvin has grown).
As per tradition grandma took me around the village so that I can be introduced to the village headman and other people at the village. The introduction was to make everyone at the village know me as well as ensure that everyone at the village welcomed me.
After the introduction around the village, grandma took me to her small shelter called kizaza (Kizaza is same shelter at the village where people sat to have a meal and discussions). Grandma kizaza was used to prepare meals and host gusts. Her kizaza was ever busy with a number of activities. This is also the same place that is used to discuss both non pertinent and very serious issues. Kizaza are popular shelters in the village, and every village has it.
So, grandma took me to her kizaza in order for me to take a rest and wait for a meal. She also wanted me to take this opportunity to share with the young people she had invited on what I was doing in Lusaka.
As we were chanting one of my classmates, asked me a question on what I was doing in Lusaka. "So my brother what are you doing in Lusaka?"My friend asked. My friend also went on to say "I have asked this question because we hear you are doing fine". This was the first question from friends. I was not surprised being asked this question because this question is very common among my peers. Most of the time when I meet a friend, they would want to know what I was doing. So, with a smile I told my friend what I was doing, what courses I had done and what I was up to. My friends were very excited with my answer, and they all congratulated me on what I was doing. Just I was about to stand up so that I could escort my friends grandma asked me to sit down. Grandma wanted to talk to me because she overhead our conversation with my friend. My grandma talks a lot, and she like talk on top of her voice. If one was to hear her one may think she was upset and something was wrong My grandma had been to school in the colonial day, so she understands a number of principles. When she asked me to sit down so that she can have a talk with me I started imaging what was about to say.
"Mr. Policy maker, Kelvin what are you telling us about policy making. Us people from the village are suffering. We do not have proper medical care, schools and food. We have never seen any policy maker here all what we have heard are lies. Each year we are promised a lot of things. Some time we have been promised good schools, road and hospitals."My Grandma complained.
What grandma was trying to say were things that a number of people have complained? Her complain was echoed by other villagers. They all seemed to have a same feeling about us policy experts. My colleagues also supported my grandma, they blamed the policy experts as the source of failure in society. My friends even outline a number of things that have gone wrong in society. They also described themselves as second class citizens. This was because much of national development was first given to town people and villagers were given left over developments. They complained that every year the world organized meeting to discuss developments, but all these meeting came to nothing. They said that there were cases where nations had gathered together to discuss comprehensive policies, but this effort came to nothing. They singled out millennium development goals as an agenda which was highly talked about, but it also came to nothing.
As my friends and other villagers were complaining, I began to imagine what was wrong with various policies that the world has made. One of the things that I thought about was the issues of having too many players in policy development and lack of seriousness in handling policy matters. In Zambia, one can say a policy in Zambia is just a government document seated in the Minister's office waiting to be implemented and evaluated. Zambia in particular has developed a lot of policies that are very good but they ended up just dying on papers. For example, Zambia had hosted a number of national indaba, and a number of issues have been discussed in these national conferences, but they all came to nothing.
Grandma was right many of us policy makers and expert spend too much time just talking. This has made a number of people lose confidence in policy planning process and implementation. A number of people feel cheated on policy making process. They think policy makers do not listen to people's widespread concern. People have complained and wondered why the poor continue to be poor, and the rich continue to be rich.
Borrowing from His Excellency President Mr. Michael Sata word as a nation and society at large we need to be action oriented. People in the society will not eat our policy papers or talks, but they are geared to work on policy implementation. People want to hear that such as promise has been implemented. People want to see action. 21 century is a century for action people and not talkers and jokers. The world has evolved, so people were interested in policies that are going to offer solution rather than speeches that are full of jokes and not action.
For us policy expert to be accepted in our community, we need to develop realistic and action oriented policy. We should not be viewed as dreamers in an unknown land but people who advocate for policies that are attainable.