THERE were two almost coincidental disturbing reports this past week involving Zambia’s heroines-World Boxing Council gold bantamweight champion Catherine Phiri and former multi division titlist Esther Phiri.
The troubling issue for Cathy was the state-promised but delayed honour with a house, while Esther could not be drawn into discussing her off-on-off rematch with South Africa’s Sandra Almeida, referring all queries to her manager Anthony Mwamba.
Due to space limitations, today I deal with Cathy’s case and hope that I can take up Esther’s issue next week.
Oriental Quarries Boxing Promotions manager Chris Malunga was quoted as saying her protégé Cathy had somewhat lost the zeal to fight, putting it down to the promised but delayed house in recognition of her achievement as the only African woman in history to win the WBC main title.
Malunga is reported to have said Cathy was frustrated with government’s delayed verbal, but widely publicised promise in honouring the young fighter since winning the WBC coveted belt.
The frustration is heightened by the fact that Cathy is due to make her first defence of the title against Gibesele Shabalala on August 27.
“…the mood of the boxer (Cathy) is not okay; we are struggling to raise her morale.
“Look at the honour we brought to the country, but until now nothing has been done,” Malunga said almost forlornly.
The Oxford Advanced Leaner’s Dictionary defines honour, among others as, “award…an award, official title, etc., given to somebody as a reward for doing what is morally right.”
It adds, “reputation…a good reputation from other people: upholding the honour of your country…”
Whichever way you look at it, an honour is earned and it must be bestowed on those who have distinguished themselves in an endeavour, an enterprise, in a sporting field and so on and so forth. Honours can be bestowed on the recipients while they are alive or posthumously, but preferably while they are still alive.
The aim of this piece is not to question why the authorities appear to be dragging their feet on the matter that’s in the public domain – honour the young WBC champion with a house – but ask them to consider quickening the process since, ultimately, they reserve the right to carry out their promise or otherwise.
I’m aware that when the state promises its citizens roads, schools, hospitals and other social services, it must invariably budget for massive capital outlays to fulfill such promises.
It should be noted, however, that building of roads, schools, hospitals and the social services are or ought to be on-going activities of any government.
In other words, the scale of resources required to achieve these programmes or projects is no doubt enormous, running into trillions of Kwacha.
Such programmes impact the lives of many in society. Let’s flip the coin now and critically examine what it would cost the authorities to buy a single house for Cathy.
An average three -bedroomed house in a reasonable residential area like PHI, Nyumba Yanga in Lusaka to mention but a few, would obviously cost a tiny fraction of those trillions I have talked about. Which brings me to what I’d do if I were the authority on this matter.
I would pick up the phone, call the chief executive officers of any of the following companies: National Housing Authority, NAPSA, Zambia National Building Society, all state-owned entities, I believe, and ask them to partner with the state by donating a house to Cathy as part of their good corporate citizenship or corporate social responsibility or corporate social investment.
This approach, I would argue, wouldn’t take weeks because all companies who understand corporate social responsibility would jump at the opportunity, even if it was at someone else’s prompting!
Surely, if Cathy’s promised honour materialised before her defence, it would not only boost her sagging morale and retain the title, but the authorities would, for their part, earn the slipping kudos they could regain by walking their talk.
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