By Elias Munshya, LLM, MBA, M.DIV.
President Lungu knows or ought to know, that Honorable Margaret Mwanakatwe MP is struggling with an apparent illness requiring urgent treatment. However, I am wondering why despite this notorious fact, the president still maintains her at the ministry of finance. Is the president taking advantage of a woman’s illness for his political ends? As a nation, we must object to this abuse of the sick among us. Ms Mwanakatwe needs to take some time off to work on herself and improve her mental health and her life. She is young and still has much political life left in her. After she gets treated, she can be a great minister of finance. As at now, it should pain us a nation to have Aunty Dizzy continue as a principal minister of our government.
I have been extremely privileged to have a role of some sort in at least three of our culture’s most cherished professions – as a minister of the gospel, a lawyer, and a mental health therapist. In all these professions, adherence to our highest of ethics prevents us from making a diagnosis of a person without a clinical examination. Further, as a minister, I am drawn with compassion for the common weaknesses of our humanity. We humans (as frail as we are), are called upon to serve our churches, and our countries with significant defects – sometimes weaknesses of body and shortcomings of our mental health. As a lawyer, I am aware of the standards of proof we need to prove specific allegations. Moreover, some allegations should not be made lightly.
Taking all these ethics into mind; however, we must use our common humanity to appeal to Zambia’s Minister of Finance to do something about a visible illness that seems to afflict her. Ms Mwanakatwe has been seen, on several occasions, extremely drunk during working hours. She has reported for essential meetings in a drunken stupor. Most recently, during an NDF meeting, Aunty Dizzy was before the full view of cameras visibly intoxicated. It appears like she has lost control of her drinking. Any person who has lost control of their drinking should immediately check themselves into health centres to see if they can benefit from medical and psychological help.
Further, Ms Mwanakatwe’s job calls upon her to be in interaction with international players and sobriety is not only a necessity but an imperative. As the minister of finance, she has access to the most sacred of our national secrets. Ms Mwanakatwe cannot in good faith continue to be Minister of Finance without having her illness treated. She is addicted to alcohol, and the only thing that citizens can request her is to check herself into treatment so that she gets her life back.
Ms Mwanakatwe appears to be a brilliant and hard-working woman. However, addictions and mental health illnesses can afflict even the strongest and the most intelligent among us. Mental health illnesses are not restricted to the dullest among us. It can affect all. That being the case, it is important that we remove the stigma associated with addictions and mental illnesses. We need to encourage everyone who might be facing these challenges to seek treatment. Ms Mwanakatwe provides us with an opportunity as a nation to publicly debate addictions and consider the various help available to those sick among us. Her intoxicated pictures are no longer a joke; they are a matter of human health and should be treated as such.
Continuing in the role of minister of finance, she cannot. If she has no control of her drinking, there is no way that she can be an effective negotiator of our debt situation. Current debt diplomacy requires soberness. How can the Chinese respect our principal debt negotiator, whom they know has an apparent addiction to alcohol? Showing up drunk for duty in the army is a dismissible offence. Showing up drunk for a shift at KCM would lead to dismissal. However, the moment it becomes an illness, we all must pay attention and explore treatment first. There is hope for those suffering from addictions, and I hope Honourable Mwanakatwe’s situation will help us debate this issue and get her into treatment. There is hope.
Suggested Citation: Munshya, E. (2019). Hope for Aunty Dizzy: Zambia’s minister of finance needs immediate access to addiction treatment. Elias Munshya Blog. Accessed May 21, 2019.