Cheke Ziba’s tribute to PS Livuza: Fare thee well!

I was in post as Director of Information for just a little more than 5 months when Principal Secretary (PS) Anthony Livuza was shifted from Energy and Mining to Ministry of Information. I had not yet, to say the least, captured all the nitty-gritties   of what it meant to lead the Department of Information at the time. Things were happening pretty quick at the time because just a little earlier the Minister had also just changed, so basically 5 months into the job, I had changed bosses and they both, to put it mildly, expected a lot more from me having been at the Ministry, in recent times, longer than both of my two top bosses. It was not easy!

As I was shrinking within myself trying to figure out what would happen, my first encounter with PS Livuza swung the pendulum into a direction I never anticipated, not even in the faintest of my imagination. I had booked an appointment to see him – just to introduce myself and brief him on what is going on in the Department of Information.

On the dot, with my brief notes in hand, a copy for me and another for him, I was ushered into his office, and hey, here was an imposing figure with a voice of authority welcoming me and offering me a seat. I did not know what to expect and I did not know exactly how that first meeting would pan out. Remember, folks, I’m meeting Anthony Livuza, the new PS for Information, for the first time here.

Cheke Ziba (L) with Livuza
Cheke Ziba (L) with Livuza

“So this is Isaac Cheke Ziba that I have heard so much about, he quipped in his deep voice of authority. “Yes Sir,I quickly responded. “I hope some of what you have heard about me is good enough,” I quickly added. We shared a long laugh before we settled for the business of the meeting. While I expected to be with him for about 20 minutes only, we ended up talking for a good one hour plus. The time I was leaving that room, his office, I knew I had a Principal Secretary ahead of me who will lead the Ministry into a completely different direction with a totally different approach to things. I never proved myself wrong on my take and  interpretation of our first meeting. He was there, day in and day out on our sojourns to make the Ministry of Information fulfill it’s call of duty and deliver on its mandate.

“Without you, I’m nothing and without me you are nothing.”

At the very first meeting that PS Livuza had with all  staff at the Ministry of Information, he called for collective responsibility. He stressed the fact that if we worked together, aiming high always, we would be able to deliver on our mandate as a Ministry. He summed it all up by the words “without you, I’m nothing and without me, you are nothing.” Every body in that room, without further motivation went into a frenzy with hand clapping.

“we are in our positions to make decisions”

At the very first meeting Anthony Livuza had with the senior management of the Department of Information, he implored us to utilize our positions to make the necessary decisions to move the Department, and ultimately the Ministry, forward. He summed it all up by saying and I quote “Chief Information officers are chief because they have to make decisions; Deputy Directors are in their positions, to make decisions; the Director is in his position to make decisions; and the PS is in his position to make decisions; DECISIONS are what Government is expecting us to make and if we can’t decide there is no point in being in our positions – so I expect you guys, to make decisions.” I simply have never forgotten those words until today.

“do not postpone to tomorrow what you can do today”

This was a piece of advice that he gave me, in a meeting of two people, talking man to man about serious decisions that we had to make about the Ministry. We had, the two of us been working on many things that week and on this particular day, certain decisions had to be made based on certain documents that had to be submitted somewhere. We all knew and agreed that we were tired but then postponement was no longer an option. After a long period of “sheer blankness” he called me by my first name (which was very normal between the two of us) and he said “we are not going to postpone to tomorrow what we have to do today and never in your life, Isaac, postpone to tomorrow what you can do today”

Day of mixed emotions

On 6th December 2012, was a day PS Livuza told me, via a phone call, that it was a day of mixed emotions for him because two things had happened…Honourable Minister, Moses Kunkuyu Kalongashawa, MP, had been retained in cabinet and in the same portfolio of Minister of Information. It was also on the same day that he received communication that I had to wind up at Ministry of Information and report to OPC pending further redeployment.

By the time we were talking, rumours of both events on that same day had made enough rounds. We stayed on the phone for close to 30 minutes and Anthony Livuza wound up the conversation as follows “Isaac in life you take things as they come, do not despair, do not fear and do not falter, you have a beautiful future ahead of you.”  He had to fly out of the country on that day and because of what had happened in the day, he was slightly delayed in trecking to the airport.

Since the 6th of December 2012, Anthony and I talked several times and his words were always those of encouragement, those of spurring one forward, always words of hope and positive belief. To hear of his departure today, departure from this life, sends a deep sense of emptiness in me and I think in many other people’s lives.

Fare thee well Anthony and may your soul rest in eternal peace.

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