MEMBERS of Parliament (MPs) have described First Lady Esther Lungu as a hardworking ‘mother’ of the nation, whose altruistic works are helping to uplift the welfare of vulnerable people and that her office, needs concerted support.
The lawmakers are impressed that, Ms Lungu has not only continued to lobby for empowerment schemes for underprivileged persons, but was representing Zambia well during international meetings of the First Ladies.
Patriotic Front (PF) Chilubi MP Rosaria Fundanga said the First Ladies of the ‘1990s’ were mostly confined to home, but with changing global trends, First Ladies are now being co-opted to engage themselves in charitable and other national works.
She told Parliament on Friday the Office of the First Lady has become an important ‘institution’ owing to the influence in wooing economic development through interactions with stakeholders.
The MP, who was commenting on budgetary allocation of about K1.5 million of 2017 Budget for the First Lady’s office under Cabinet Office’s budget debate, said Ms Lungu was a key factor in lobbying for women empowerment.
“I strongly support the budget allocation for the office of the First Lady, because Ms Lungu is working hard and lobbies for women empowerment. She carries the flag of Zambia whenever she goes for international summits and she doesn’t only represent herself, but our great nation as well.
“Let’s look at what she brings for Zambia and Ms Lungu is not the last First Lady of Zambia,” she said.
The MP, who sent the House into laughter when she said, ‘behind every successful man there was a women’ hailed Cabinet Office for the First Lady’s budget, saying Ms Lungu’s ‘sweat’ to fight for improved welfare of all Zambians was starting to record positive results.
She cited Ms Lungu’s efforts in the fight against cervical cancer and outreach community projects with support from stakeholders, as key areas to promote quality health for women.
Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo observed that Ms Lungu could not only be confined to the ‘kitchen’ at the expense of her desire to partner in fostering national development.
He took a swipe at politicians that shun national events citing the Day of Prayers, and that President Edgar Lungu was committed to working with citizens, but would not force anybody.
United Party for National Development Ikele’nge MP Elijah Muchima, who said, he was proud of Felix Mutati as Finance Minister, called for transparency in implementation of the Budget.
In winding up the debate for Cabinet Office budget, Vice-President Inonge Wina said the office of the First Lady plays an important role in the national development discourse.