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"This is a story about Zambia. It is a story that is told from a perspective never perceived before and since. It is the kind of history that looks at the ‘everyday events’ from a different, critical and a much more penetrating view point. We are made to see the trees from the forest!

Essentially, it’s a tale about Zambian presidents and how they became presidents. According to Hicks, in normal circumstances, all the six or seven presidents, should not have risen to that top office, except for chance: that is, being in the right place at the right time, or because Zambians did not think through the issue much more intimately.

This is the central thought in this highly controversial book. Hicks declares that all Zambia’s presidents, since 1964, have been accidental. Mostly, they are second choice leaders. More disturbing though, is the claim that all along, Zambia has been led by people “some without any clear professional background, political know-how or definitive country of origin.” In short, our leaders have been unprofessional, naïve and non-indigenes.

Now, that is something to chew upon. However, three things are pertinent here: The author argues that some Zambia’s presidents, have had no “clear” professional background to qualify them to lead this nation. Secondly, they have all been political novices, or green horns, who have fumbled along as they led the nation. Lastly – perhaps more intriguing – Hicks argues that they all have no “definitive country of origin.”

These three points are highly contentious, but Hicks says what he wants to say. Right through the text, he appears to have done his background checks well. That, is a major strength of this book. It is written by an experienced and highly intelligent journalist who dares to go into areas where none has been before.

Thus Hicks further argues that Zambia has been ‘miss-led’ not only because of the above three rather scary factors, but also because of the absence of some definitive and predictable succession programmes. Herein lies another of the profligate claims in this book. Hicks squarely blames Zambia’s lack of political and economic success, in its 56+ years of independence, on the people’s repeated failure to exercise caution, and their failure to scrutinise individuals sent into State House."

Zambia's Fall-back Presidents

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