When you are a member of parliament, the leadership responsibilities are many, but one can still hide from the public and engage in illicit activities such as excessive beer drinking. A few people who might know about your bad social habits may talk, but the worst consequence of that behaviour would only be losing the parliamentary seat at the next election.
However, when you are a member of parliament and also Minister in charge of the country’s Treasury, it is unthinkable to engage in such conduct, publicly or privately, because you are carrying the whole nation on your shoulders.
The Ministry of Finance is charged with the huge responsibility of proposing economic and financial policy as well as coordinating and supervising the implementation of austerity measures as empowered by law. It is, in practice, the most important Cabinet position after the Head of State.
The duties of the Finance Minister include; preparing the annual fiscal budget and issuing adequate regulations for its execution; managing government financial assets; proposing bills relating to the management of government employees, particularly bills related to staffing, salaries, benefits and pensions; amortizing debt and coordinating financial activities carried out from grant facilities in different ministries and their related entities; supervising public expenditure, reporting financial indiscipline among controlling officers; and exercising all powers to sign sovereign guarantees and borrowing money on behalf of the State.
When you are holding this position, you have an easier option of abstaining from alcohol consumption because the nation demands that you are sober at all times. High-ranking conmen who run businesses that are parasitical on government have a saying about people who hold sensitive positions but are reckless with alcohol; they say “loose lips sink ships”. So they will do anything in the world to make a Finance Minister’s lips loose before they can strike and sink the nation.
That is why, we would suggest to a person occupying such a sensitive government position, in a vulnerable country like Zambia, to completely stay away from alcohol. But if that proves to be too unrealistic, we don’t see anything wrong in one taking a few glasses of whatever pleases their ego, or stimulates their appetite for whatever kind of ‘food’, for as long as such a person retains some semblance of sobriety.
We feel bad that the drinking habits of our beautiful and beloved Finance Minister Margaret Mwanakatwe must became a subject of public discussion because we have so much admiration for what she has achieved in life. She has a very charming and respected husband, and they both have had prosperous careers in the private sector.
We are worried that Honourable Mwanakatwe doesn’t seem to have changed after being elected member of parliament and she hasn’t adjusted after being promoted to this very powerful government position. Her lifestyle is as though she is still a private citizen.
In case people have forgotten, this is the woman who lost her handbag while drinking beer at Mayela bar in Kalingalinga. The handbag had K57,000 in various currencies, her diplomatic passport and several ATM cards. During a court hearing, Honourable Mwanakatwe testified that she interacted with a few patrons in the bar before discovering that her car outside had been broken into. That incident happed in November 2016, when she had already been elected member of parliament.
Well, during the just ended long weekend, our minister was back in the news. A video was circulated on social media (watch it on News Diggers! YouTube channel), in which Honourable Mwanakatwe was filmed explaining to Lusaka residents why they should vote for PF candidate Miles Sampa.
The dizzied up Mwanakatwe was filmed addressing some PF supporters, not in her usual eloquent manner, but rather using a drunken-style of articulation. At one point she was seen getting distracted by her own hair while speaking in a loud and sometimes whispering voice, with unusual pauses.
“I want to support the candidacy of Miles…. Sampa… Bwalya. In supporting that, what I want to say is…. that Lusaka Central where I’m member of parliament, is strongly supporting that candidate! And in supporting that candidature, I want to eeeh… encourage the people in Lusaka Central, there is no other choice! There’s one choice. The choice is Miles Sampa! Okay? There’s no other choice,” Mwanakatwe says as the cadres are heard cheering her.
“This is the person that is going to support me as MP to bring about the development that you would want in Lusaka Central. And in doing that we are recognising… the different demographics in Lusaka Central. We have the likes of Bauleni, we have the likes of… of… eh Chibolya, (pointing) which is partially Lusaka Central, partially Kanyama. We are saying what this team is bringing to Lusaka Central, to Lusaka Province is a combination of ndime and… thing for the people. And Miles Sampa in Lusaka Province despite… seven constituencies, we are…the different demographics that are at hand. We want Lusaka to progress, Lusaka Central.”
Why, Honourable Mwanakatwe, why? Look at how the women movement supported your appointment. Imagine the expectations that these people have from you. Honourable Mwanakatwe, it is high time you reflected on your drinking habits, because apart from holding a critical government position, you are a mother for goodness sake.
What do you expect people to think of you from this clearly drunken speech? What were you even talking about, because it doesn’t even make any sense? We are sure even the cadres were clapping because you were probably buying them beer that night.
In the state that our Finance Minister was, how can anyone believe that she is capable of supervise any austerity measures? Dear readers, we mean no malice when we ask if Honourable Mwanakatwe has an addiction problem, Great North Road has opened a rehab centre to help people like her.
We have interacted with her at close range and sometimes she reeks alcohol while on duty. An example of when we experienced this is when she officiated at the Zambia-South Africa Business Council meeting at Southern Sun Hotel on Wednesday June 20, 2018. This was the same day that she disputed the US$1.2 billion cost for the Lusaka-Ndola dual carriageway as not being realistic. We intended to ask the Minister if government was cognizant of the fact that stopping projects that are below 80 per cent completion was going to cost government more money in interest and penalties. Unfortunately, she did not agree to an interview because she was rushing to another government programme.
We are not suggesting that the minister misconducted herself on that day. We are not calling on President Edgar Lungu to fire her because she is definitely not the worst drunkard in Cabinet, and we are also not trying to embarrass the Honourable member of parliament. But we feel maybe if the minister realizes that we, as journalists can tell when she has taken alcohol, she may change and reduce.
That event was in the morning, and it baffled us to smell alcohol from the Minister’s breath that early. We imagined that she must have had taken something that early morning, or it could have been what she took late the previous working day. Whatever the case, we know alcohol when we smell it.
We can see that Honourable Mwanakatwe is resisting old age; she still wants to live the lifestyle of a teenager, a recycled teenager. But we are pleading with her to put that lifestyle on hold while she manages our public resources.
Our Finance Minister is very beautiful, and if she continues patronizing bars under the cover of night, one day, she will be mistaken for a ‘business’ woman. Those randy boys who ‘transact’ with matrons in taverns will not know that their drunken victim is actually a top government official who is out to simply have fun with her supporters. Please minister, change!