By CHARLES SIMENGWA –
THE Mungwi Boys’ Alumni (MBA) has ushered new leaders into office, with a renewed call by senior members for increased innovations and sound resource mobilisation strategies.
During the inaugural Annual General Meeting (AGM) held recently in Kabwe, Central Province, the former students showed unusual fervour to help repair their alma mater, and to promote high academic standards among the present learners.
The resolutions of the AGM, held at Misuku Lodge on August 17, 2019, signalled a decisive step to avoid over-dependence on donations.
The former students pushed a unified message: MBA should not rely on handouts for its survival, but should instead change its course to engage in competitive business ventures.
By deciding to switch from their current social and business standing to a more challenging role, they are certainly set for growth.
The MBA now favours a shift to a limited company by shares in order for the association to become financially viable.
A well-thought transition from the present limited company by guarantee would crucially enlarge the scope of member engagement, and broaden the resource mobilisation drive.
Kabulonga Boys’ Secondary School head teacher Jolly Nalili was the interim chairperson of MBA that was registered as a limited company by guarantee on August 22, 2018, with its launch following on March 8, this year.
It was formed mainly to help revive Mungwi Technical Secondary School, some 26 kilometres north-east of Kasama, in Northern Province.
The learning institution, in existence from 1960, was previously known as Kasama Secondary School, and was located at a different site within Kasama District.
With a population of 923 pupils distributed from Grade 8 up to Grade 12, the institution – whose first principal was John Mwanakatwe – has 66 teachers out of whom 26 are female.
Like other old schools around Zambia, Mungwi Technical Secondary School has over the past years suffered dilapidation which the former students are seeking to halt.
Upon its launch, the association members made their noble intentions known by contributing 400 bags of cement towards the construction of a half-kilometre boundary wall for security purposes, and also to block encroachments by some locals on school land.
The new leaders, a rich mix of age and admirable talents, become the first substantive office holders who are riding high on optimism for good results.
Bank of Zambia (northern region) staffer, Kedrick Zombe is the chairperson, deputised by Chililabombwe Town Clerk, Cosmas Chalusa.
University of Zambia lecturer John Yabe is the secretary, while Luwingu District Council director of finance Ngao Sinkala is the treasurer. One committee member position went to Matthews Mushikiti.
Solicitor-General Abraham Mwansa, a former Mungwi Technical Secondary School student, was the returning officer.
Mr Mwansa said the positions of vice-secretary and another committee member, which were not contested, would be filled through a process to be managed by the executive committee.
The pungent criticism of the concept to assist former schools has at times arisen, not so much from some flippant attitudes, but weak strategies for financial sustainability.
Some associations have pinned their hopes for survival on few individuals who are in privileged positions and offer occasional financial and material help.
However, the MBA has decided to ring the changes with a fresh, look-into-the-future approach that would further revitalise the intersection between the school and the former learners.
The bolts holding the association in place shear off when donor fatigue sets in, with the consequence of rendering the general membership incapable of welding their goals together.
Some associations of former students launched amid much fanfare have vanished after hyped donations, when well-wishers evidently put the skids under their generosity.
This is the unceremonious departure the MBA is seeking to avert by re-examining the significance of its relationship with both the school management and the learners.
It is also re-positioning itself by way of spreading the benefits to registered former students who would now have a chance to buy shares in MBA and, for those with suitable qualifications, being employed by the association.
The members are eager to sew the edges of the new company with sterner measures, primarily strict accountability of financial resources.
Mr Mwansa shared an expanded view of a limited company by shares and advised the 27-man gathering that, to avoid possible conflict of interest, a sub-committee should be formed to refine the articles of association.
Under the new arrangement, the executive committee will assume the role of board of directors since full-time staff will be employed to run the day-to-day business of MBA.
On concerns about a possible ‘hijacking’ of shares by financially-capable ex-students, he said revision of the articles of association should include a clause to cap the number of shares that a member could purchase.
“That is the essence of re-doing the articles of association should this group decide to transition to a limited company by shares…it’s up to the members to protect the interests of everyone,” Mr Mwansa said.
The overwhelming support for such a transition was indicative of the multiple benefits members foresee which they, however, cautioned should not negate the core business of the association – helping the school.
To bolster the recruitment drive and wider representation, the new executive committee was tasked to set up sub-committees in provinces and among former students in the diaspora.
In its other resolutions, the meeting voted to promote responsible use of social media among the members.
The roles of the guarantors would be recognised so that they continue providing advice whenever it was needed.
Furthermore, the new executive committee was mandated to propose and consider new projects, while signatories could be changed to ward off conflict of interest.
In his acceptance speech, the new chairperson, Mr Zombe called for a strong, dedicated cadre of members, anchored on discipline, honesty, trust and respect for one another.
He urged the former students to reconnect with the school by creating room for annual visits, during which period they should check the condition of the learning institution and interact with the current learners to motivate them.
“No personal interests should be above the core business of our group. Let’s all study the articles of association so that we move together as a unit,” Mr Zombe said.
Mines and Mineral Resources Permanent Secretary Paul Chanda, a former Mungwi Technical Secondary School student, urged the new executive committee to promote good values and team work.
Mr Chanda, a former trustee in the interim committee, appealed for sacrifice for the smooth and sustainable operation of the association.
The former students seem to be managing to blur the generational divide by increasingly forging ties across the various intakes.
Former Malole Member of Parliament Emmanuel Munaile, who left Mungwi Secondary School in 1979, was the oldest member in attendance at the AGM, where the youngest of them all was Thomas Sinkala, from the 2012 intake.
Mr Munaile, in a vote of thanks, said the member recruitment drive should be ramped up so that a good number of the past learners could be brought on board.
With such unwavering support, Mungwi Technical Secondary School will no doubt maintain its spot as a learning institution in Zambia that has produced many citizens of note.