By Prince Bill M. Kaping’a Political/Social Analyst
We would like to make a passionate plea first lady Mrs. Mutinta Hichilema not to yield to any maneuvers by some crafty and deceitful individuals to entice her into forming her own foundation, but instead continue championing charity activities within the framework of Dorcas women where she remains a committed member. Why do we say so?
In the past, corporate mafias have ‘used’ certain individuals to convince first ladies form their own foundations so that they could benefit from their donations. Although some politicians have been quick to swallow the bait and deemed this as an opportunity to launder their images in the eyes of an otherwise hungry electorate, the mafias have been many steps ahead of them. And at the end of the day, they’ve gone running all the way to the Bank for their real motive hasn’t really been demonstrating good corporate social responsibility, but rather establishing easy access to State House!
We will cite practical examples: Immediately Frederick Chiluba became President, we witnessed the birth of Hope Foundation. Thanks to an endless flow of cash from these businessmen, Mrs. Chiluba could be seen frequenting remote areas such as Shang’ombo or Lungevungu making donations of different kinds, of course to people in need. In a matter of time, companies and individuals behind such donations would be rewarded huge contracts to supply fertilizer to government. But where is Hope Foundation today? Immediately citizens denied Chiluba a third term at the helm, these benefactors severed ties with the foundation and the rest as they say is history.
And once Levy Mwanawasa took over from Chiluba, we saw first lady Maureen Mwanawasa come calling with her own Maureen Mwanawasa Community Initiative. Of course, this is the moment those sly businessmen had been relishing! In no time, they were zooming in and out of State House lavishing the first lady with generous donations – both in material and monetary forms. Like her predecessor, Mrs. Mwanawasa would be constantly traversing the breadth and width of our country playing the role of Mother Christmas! As we are all aware, Mwanawasa would die during his second term in office. Did those businesses continue providing support to MMCI? Where is the foundation today? It’s dead and buried!
At least only the spouse of 5th Republican President Mrs. Thandiwe Banda would resist the temptation to form her own foundation. She elected to remain true to herself by staying home. However, the abhorrent practice would resume upon Michael Sata taking over office.
Being a medical practitioner, Mrs. Sata would go on to set up Ubutala Bwa Bumi, a charity focusing mainly on medical related challenges for vulnerable people in society. At one-point, Zambian Parliament would even allocate K1.5 billion to her office in the 2013 budget eliciting a barrage of criticism from citizens who wondered whether she was running a parallel Ministry of Health. As expected, the seemingly good initiative of Ubutala Bwa Bumi would crumble like a cookie immediately Sata went to be with the Lord.
Under the tenure of President Edgar Lungu, first lady Esther Lungu would take her charity works to another level! The Esther Lungu Foundation would be like the long-awaited miracle for the mafias! They would never tire calling at State House bearing massive donations or making out checks to the foundation. Mrs. Lungu would waste no time hitting the ground running trying to set her own record of charity works. If she wasn’t making generous donations to schools around the country, she was beating bush paths in rural areas economically empowering women. In other instances, she would be hauling assorted medical supplies to hospitals or handing out foodstuffs to the visually impaired, among others. She caused quite a stir when she led a huge delegation to USA to collect four fire tenders of 1985 model which were better off remaining in a museum!
Mrs. Hichilema has been known to be a member of Dorcas women for as much as we can remember. Dorcas Ministries is an outreach within the Seventh Day Adventist Church. It was started by a group of women in Battle Creek, Michigan, USA, in 1874 in the home of Mrs. Henry Gardner. The objective of the Dorcas Society is to help people physically and spiritually, in the name and spirit of Jesus. Its concern is for every case of need, irrespective of creed, class, nationality, or ethnic origin.
This would definitely be a perfect fit for the first lady to carry on charity works!