The Non Governmental Organisations’ Coordinating Council (NGOCC) is deeply concerned at the lack of a clearly defined role for the office of the First Lady. As we have stated before, the office of the First Lady is not a Constitutional Office.
Clearly, therefore, there is urgent need for the legislature to immediately enact in our laws some framework to guide the operations and define the role of the First Lady’s office. As the law stands, the office of the First Lady remains shrouded in controversies and yet we continue to see our successive First Ladies sometimes overlapping and undertaking functions, which ordinarily, are supposed to be done by relevant line Ministries and other entities.
Recently, just like in the past, we have witnessed the First Lady,Madam Esther Lungu undertakingactivities which are, sometimes, misconstrued by members of the public to be advancing partisan politics. Currently, the First Lady is in the Western Province on an outreach programme, which other stakeholders believe are campaigns for the party in office.
Our position is therefore;
- In the absence of a clear legal framework, we advise the First Lady to desist from engaging in partisan activities that will bring misunderstanding by other players. The First Lady is the figurehead ‘Mother of the Nation’ who must not be dragged in divisive partisan political activities.
- It is unclear where the First Lady is drawing the resources she is using especially with the much publicized donations. We also note that the First Lady’s entourage includes public service workers, who, essentially, pose a cost implication on government coffers. Therefore Cabinet Office must come out clear and inform the Zambian people which budgetary allocation Madam Lungu is using in terms of the donations she is making as well as logistical support for the trips. This will not only enhance transparency and accountability but will also protect the First Lady;
- The office of the First Lady is not constitutional and therefore must not be party to National Treasury resource appropriation. In as long as the sources of resources are not publicly disclosed, the Zambian citizenry will continue speculating and this may hamper the effective role that the office of the First Lady should be playing in harnessing peace and well-being in the country.
NGOCC BOARD SECRETARY