Gesture to reunite married couples commendable

ON Wednesday, January 12, 2021, I was elated to see President Hichilema’s Facebook page posing with the First Lady, Mutinta Hichilema, demonstrating to the nation that married couples working in different geographical areas need to unite in the same way they have done. This, indeed, deserves commendation from all corners of our nation, Zambia. It is barely two weeks ago when the Zambia Daily Mail reported that over 22,000 people sought divorce in one single year – 2021. This number is alarming and worrying because it is from strong united families that a meaningful, well-organised society emerges. A strong society will definitely form a strong nation in return. It is against this background, therefore, that we appreciate President Hichilema and his Cabinet’s decision to reunite married couples through a deliberate transfer policy. Many married couples working in both public service and local government who have been living separately can testify that they have suffered a lot in pushing for transfers in their quest to join their loved ones. Although transfers could be given in some selected instances, mainly on medical grounds, many civil servants cried foul against the whole process. In most cases, regional transfers, that is, a transfer from one province to the other, ended up frustrating the officer who desired to join either the husband or the wife. Consequently, such an officer would not work with motivation as anticipated. Psychologically, it is also expected that the affected personnel will underperform at a workplace, culminating into low productivity. In view of the aforementioned, it is reasonable to argue that one policy, irrespective of how less important it may seem to be, should be taken as important as any other policy. The way the transfer policy was mishandled by previous regimes was a clear indication that uniting married couples through policy direction was not a priority. It is unfortunate to note that MMD and PF overlooked the effects of married couples living separately. It is common knowledge to think that human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) could easily be transmitted by some of these couples who lived separately from their legitimately married spouses. Inasmuch as we are aware that there are a number of causes for HIV and AIDS, to a large extent married couples who lived in separate geographical areas were agents of such diseases and many other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). In addition, living separately due to difficulties in transfer processing might have contributed immensely to a number of divorces across the country. Even if there are several reasons that contributed to a lot of married couples seeking divorce through the courts of law, living separately arguably was one of the reasons that contributed to a number of people divorcing, not only in the previous year but many years before. The stance to reunite married couples working in different geographical areas in the public service and local government, therefore, could not have come at a better time than this one. It is a time when President Hichilema and the UPND government are working round the clock to fix the economy. One of the ways, inter alia, is by helping married couples as prescribed by President Hichilema’s Cabinet to work in one geographical location and eventually enable them to live together. Although not the only solution to end STIs, HIV and AIDS, and divorces, it will, to a large extent, contribute to the well-being of most affected public service and local government servants. Uniting a married couple who have not been living together for years through transfers will undoubtedly improve their status, economically. A spouse who has been renting a house in Solwezi, for instance, will no longer be doing to do so upon joining the Ndola-based spouse, who probably might have been renting as well. In this same economic trajectory, a married couple living apart and whose budget has been allocated for weekend travels to see a Livingstone-based spouse will definitely no longer spend such monies by a Kafue-based spouse. In a nutshell, it should be borne at the back of our minds that ‘united we stand; divided we fall’. Therefore, President Hichilema and the UPND government are in the right direction on this policy. Let us also remember that for the nation to be very strong, it begins with strong family ties through marriages. The author is a teacher.

Facebook Feed