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novembre 20, 2021

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Alice Mirimo Kabetsi: You can buy her heart but never her soul

5 min read

You can buy her heart never her soul.  Alice Mirimo has kept her vision unchanged throughout the course of time despite complex situations. Behind Alice’s peace of mind lies a personnage left with many battles.

Alice Mirimo was requested by the Congolese Government to undertake the most challenging task of her overall professional career. In 2010, Alice was entrusted with the mission by the Government to revive the National Fund for Social Empowerment (known as the FNPSS). The Fund was established during colonial rule as the Indigenous Well-being Fund (FBEI). It was designed to assist the Government in meeting it social agenda for the people.

The National Fund for Social Empowerment was left unresponsive for many years following the country access to independence in 1960. As the Government brought to the table a redress plan in 2010, not many citizens remembered what this was all about. Some people often referred to FNPSS as the ruin of DRC everlasting history. Meanwhile, the rubbles from the Fund facilities could still be seen in some part of the capital-city Kinshasa. Would Alice Mirimo revive an elephant that has been grounded for a very long time? She accepted the offer from the Government and pledged to restore back the institution to memorable times. 

Before she could take on the challenge, Alice Mirimo was best known for her role in DRC civil society. She used to lead the Young Woman Christian Association (YWCA)’s national chapter in the country. An international NGO based in Geneva. As a YWCA local representative, Alice received supports from fellow YWCA global representatives to serve a four years term in the organization Board of Directors. The selection provided Her with advanced expertise in management. She went to become one of the best known personnage in the global civil society movement. 

Under Alice Mirimo’s leadership YWCA national chapter in DRC has risen to become one of the leading NGO and a key partner to the country Government. 

For the National Fund for Social Empowerment to get back on track, the Government of DRC relied on Alice Mirimo‘s professional capacities adding to her natural energy and address book. She would make at the time the perfect joker card for the country. 

Back to July 2020, ten years later after Alice Mirimo agreed on the challenge to revive the National Fund for Social Empowerment, the transformation has been spectacular. The Institution resumed with its role as the hub for social empowerment in the country. Under her leadership, the FNPSS returned to normal activities. A considerable number of social projects were launched and the public Institution recovered  partnership with Belgium. 

The National Fund for Social Empowerment failed to survive years after DRC gained independence. Officials in Belgium would list the FNPSS as an exemple of post-independence failures. 

The Alice Mirimo leadership made the National Fund for Social Empowerment to restart services all over the country. Some of the ancient facilities belonging to the Institution such as the Makala sanatorium have been rehabilitated. A number of real estate properties that once belonged to former FBEI have been restored under the FNPSS. 

Thanks to the renewed partnership with Belgium Alice Mirimo made a special visit to the Kingdom. She was able to assemble and return to DRC the institutional memory of FNPSS that was saved in the Belgian National Archives for years. 

Tamtam News team in Kinshasa was able to get access to the FNPSS records. The Institution shows big in numbers compared to any other state-owned enterprises in DRC. Today, the FNPSS accounts for more than 400 dispensaries, over 300 primary schools, about 250 social empowerment centres, some 20,000 standpipes, a hundred maternity hospitals and many more achievements could be seen in the country. These achievements started with the FBEI and they are being completed in addition under Alice Mirimo as the General Director, aligning with the new Strategic Action Plan. 

Alice Mirimo is surrounded by the vulnerable people

Alice Mirimo is locally referred as « the mother of social services ». Being an achieved citizen, she has already begun working on a new goal. The self-made Lady now in her forties believes a helping hand will not solve the problem. She takes stances against the donation system what she thinks will never provide a better social life to the Congolese people. Alice Mirimo is pushing for social reforms so that the people could better care for themselves. She called on the DRC Government to invest in sustainable jobs creation as a way out. 

The Democratic Republic of the Congo achieved its first democratic transfer of power on January 29, 2019. 

The country new President Felix-Antoine Tshisekedi appears to be engaged in the search for social recovery and He is aware that the National Fund for Social Empowerment is the answer. Thanks to a social plan that was put in place by the FNPSS but never implemented in the previous administration. 

Later in 2019, Alice Mirimo was entrusted with the mission by the President to coordinate the making of an integrated emergency community development program (known as PAT-PUIDC) as a response the social challenges. President Tshisekedi insisted the program needs to bring decent massive jobs all over the country. 

Alice Mirimo is on a new challenge and she knows she might count on a traditional partner. The African Development Bank (AfDB) has pledged to provide partial fundings for the upcoming integrated emergency community development program. 

The achievements she was able to meet as the National Fund for Social Empowerment General Director have won Her supports and appreciations from the Institution employees. The ruins of the past remained a basket full of  memories without nostalgia.

FNPSS employees delivering a public statement in support for DG Alice Mirimo 

Alice Mirimo was highly grieved as images of underage children operating in Cobalt mines in the DRC surfaced in 2017. The unusual images went viral worldwide and the Cobalt business in the country was threatened to be banned from the global market. 

At that particular time, any global sanction targeting the cobalt business would have left a devastating impact on the country economy. Cobalt revenues accounts for plus 90% in the national budget.

As a humanitarian and a citizen, Alice Mirimo was faced with a dilemma. The critical situation called for sympathy with the children in the mines and at the same time, the necessity to preserve the national strategic interest. She committed to carry the fight and was able to convince one of her trusted financial partner to assist DRC in cleaning up the mines. But also to build social and economic infrastructures as an alternative for the families involved in the underage mine labour. 

A  support program for the alternative well-being of children working in the cobalt supply chain (known as PABEA COBALT) was set up in 2018 with Alice Mirimo coordinating the responses.  The African Development Bank (AfDB) is the main donor. “Zero children in Cobalt mines, schools for a better future” is the goal set by the program she was able to negotiate. 

Thanks to the response program to the underage labour crisis in DRC the country was saved from a ban in the Cobalt global market. 

Alice Mirimo Kabetsi speaks with DRC President Tshisekedi as she introduces an AfDB delegation 

Alice Mirimo Kabetsi was born in Goma, eastern DRC, in 1977. She studied Law.  She is an advocate associated with the Kinshasa-Gombe Bar. A mother of five. She is nicknamed The Joan of Arc of the Congo by fellow civil society leaders in DRC. – Tamtam News

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