Analysis: MUMBA MWANSA
RECENTLY, I stumbled upon one of Fisho Mwale’s Facebook postings, where he was recognising one Lackson Tembo, who was being described as the best dressed ‘Kaponya’ (street vendor).Mr Tembo is married with three children and what was more striking about him is that he sells airtime on one of the busy streets of Lusaka, dressed in designer suits and well-polished shoes every day.
Sadly, Mr Tembo is not good at reading nor writing, but he is good at counting money and selling airtime, and according to Mr Mwale, Mr Tembo has shown commitment and honesty towards his job. Therefore, Mr Mwale appealed to members of the public and mobile telecommunication companies to help Mr Tembo achieve his dream of having a capital of K10,000 for him to grow his business so he could fend for an education for himself and the welfare of his family.
Thankfully, “within 24 hours [of my posting], the whole MD [managing director] being of MTN, Mr Charles Molapisi, swung into action and his team created value around Lackson, immediately changing his life circumstances to positive,” says Mr Mwale.
And indeed, MTN Zambia did fulfil its promise by giving the hardworking and smart Mr Tembo K10,000 start-up capital.
This gesture left me with so many thoughts and questions: Why does society not recognise and honour the ordinary average person who is working hard despite the obstacles faced? Why are ordinary women also rarely honoured and recognised for their hard work?
In this article, my main focus is on honouring ordinary citizens and not those who have already made it in life. If only there could be a policy of making it mandatory to at least honour ordinary citizens, too, during a good number of the commemorations we hold, such as Women’s Day, Labour Day, Youth Day, African Freedom Day, Heroes and Unity Day, and Independence Day.
The story of Mr Tembo being honoured for his hard work has helped shape his life in a more positive way and it shall definitely have an impact on the betterment of the country’s economy. If more Tembos were honoured on merit in this country, I am pretty sure we would see a better Zambia – one full of hard working citizens, whose aim is to see their country flourish.
Let’s take a look, for instance, at the few medical personnel who are working in remote rural areas of our country, under harsh conditions, but they are committed to help save lives of people. The same also applies to teachers and other professionals, who, despite the challenges, are committed to put in their best in building a better country.
Let’s most importantly not overlook our dearest women, men and youths who are running small and medium enterprises (SMEs), like Mr Tembo, as they are also among the most hardworking people this country has produced. Their contribution is of great significance to the growth of our country.
As Zambia is working tirelessly to achieve the 50-50 gender representation in decision-making positions, I feel we also need to consider this equal representation when it comes to honouring hard workers. This, I am especially focusing on the ordinary women who go out of their way and work hard despite the challenges they face, and they contribute to the economy of the country.
It is amazing to see how women are now challenging men by taking up any kind of job and doing it perfectly, if not outdoing the men at times. For instance, of late I have seen a few female bus conductors and taxi drivers, as well as street vendors, who are putting in their best to make their profession more respectable and dignified. Such individuals do need commendation.
And one could be wondering how would Government manage to take up such a task with the millions of citizens living in this country? Well, this task can definitely not only be done by Government alone, but with the help of other stakeholders, such as non-governmental organisations, international organisations, SMEs, local and foreign firms, as well as individuals like you and me.
Let us take it up amongst ourselves as citizens to encourage one another to work harder if we are to see and leave a better Zambia for future generations. Hard work is definitely key to development.
The author is a Zambia Daily Mail sub-editor.
Analysis: MUMBA MWANSA