THE Non-governmental Organisation Coordinating Council (NGOCC) has bemoaned the manner in which the Mercy Cowham and Bowman Lusambo saga was brought into the limelight without considering its effect on the children involved.

At a media briefing, Wednesday, NGOCC board chairperson Mary Mulenga said it was shameful that Cowham and Lusambo were disparaging each other in the media over the paternity of her children when they could have privately resolved issues.

“The fact that the issue is out there in the public is very shameful. Obviously, it looks like it has taken a long time; there are ways in which such issues can be resolved. We know that if it is an issue of maintenance, there are ways in which you can deal with these issues without taking it out in the public and even further into the courts of law because you, the media, will be out there to cover it. What impact is this going to have on the children going forward? It is very unfortunate, we want to believe that this issue could have been dealt with outside the cameras and the public and we could still have found a way out of this,” she said.

Mulenga said the organisation was trying to engage one of the parents to see how the issue could be dealt with in private.

“As an organisation, we are doing our own work behind the scenes to try and talk to one of the parents to see how they can take this issue forward without really being out there in the public domain. We want to believe that there are solutions that can be dealt with. We want, as an organisation, to place it on record that we have taken keen interest in this particular matter. Not because of the names involved but for the vulnerable woman and the children in question. Our primary concern, therefore, is that this matter involves an expecting mother and her innocent children whose father remains unbeknown in this case,” she said.

“Raising children as a single parent can be a daunting task that ideally requires both parents to take full responsibility for their better and well-rounded growth. As already stated, we called this media briefing to emphasise that we are actively following this matter to ensure that it is dealt with and brought to a logical conclusion in a more humane and equitable manner. In the midst of this controversy, society must recognise that there are children who deserve parental care and the woman who has endured the pain of single parenting.”

She emphasised the need to support Cowham.

“Without delving into the merits and demerits and counter claims, there is need to support this vulnerable woman whose case only exemplifies the struggles of the many silent women voices out there who are in similar circumstances. We call for empathy and understanding for women who have found themselves in such unfortunate circumstances. We are confident that our courts of law will help to resolve this matter amicably,” Mulenga said.

She also urged parents not to neglect children with disabilities.

“I will tell you that for a mother who has carried a child in her womb for so many months, we have that attachment. For us, it does not matter the kind of child that you have because we are the ones who carry, we will always be there. So I think where a parent has neglected a child, more often than not, it is the male parent. So we are appealing to the women who would find themselves in such situations to not be on their own, to bring out some of these issues. I think there are a lot of institutions that can actually help these women, especially if those children happen to have a disability. Let us not hide those children because those children are also human beings,” said Mulenga.

“Children are a gift from God and children are a product of two individuals, a man and a woman. So it is very unfortunate if one of the parents can turn their back on an innocent child even if that child is said to have a disability. In fact, children with a disability actually need parental care more than the children who are perceived to be in normal condition. So if one parent is going to neglect that child, I want to believe that and it is very shameful that the blood of those innocent children will be crying out to that particular parent who is not going to take responsibility. I really doubt that any normal parent will have peace knowing that they have a child, and especially if it is a male parent, fathered a child and then they turn their back against that child. Society has a way of dealing with such parents.”