THE call by the Zambia National women’s Lobby (ZNWL) for women politicians to desist from engaging in any form of electoral malpractices cannot come at a better time than now.
This follows the recent nullification of parliamentary seats by the Supreme Court which will now call for fresh by-elections in those affected constituencies.
ZNWL Board chairperson, Beauty Katebe issued these remarks recently, following the nullification of the Kasenengwa seat held by Victoria Kalima who was elected on the MMD ticket.
The Supreme Court also nullified the Petauke Central seat which was held by MMD Member of Parliament (MP) Dora Siliya.
Our appeal goes out to the female MPs to guard against such malpractices while campaigning to ensure that their elections are clean and free from any form of retribution.
It is possible to have elections, free from electoral malpractices, only if the candidates adhered to the electoral rules and code of conduct to guide them during the campaign period and voting.
The electoral rules are very clear on the pronouncement that candidates need not to engage in acts of bribery or vote buying as a way of luring voters to vote for them.
It is through issue-based campaigns that candidates should prove themselves that they are popular. They should not engage in electoral malpractices, which in future might form a basis for election petitions.
The electoral rules call for a clean campaign right from the onset and these are the things which should be borne in the minds of all those vying for seats.
From the recent events, there is no guarantee that the affected MPs would recapture their lost seats once by-elections are held in their respective constituencies, in the face of such allegations.
It is because of such occurrences that the ZNWL has voiced concern and issued these remarks, bearing in mind that if the trend of losing parliamentary seats continued in this manner, then the already few seats held by women MPs in Parliament will be depleted further.
The number of parliamentary seats currently held by women has seen a reduction from 18 to 17 in the National Assembly. As rightly put by the ZNWL, the loss of parliamentary seats through nullification of the same by courts of law poses a serious challenge towards the attainment of the 50/50 representation of men and women in decision-making positions, as stipulated by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Protocol on Gender and Development.
We concur with the ZNWL that Zambia needs more women representation in Parliament. These are women who will speak with a strong voice as opposed to the way things are now.
Instead of losing seats, women should be gaining more seats in Parliament for effective representation, and only then will the call for unity and women emancipation be heard unlike now when they are in the minority.
With fewer numbers, it is easy for women issues to be glossed over and over-shadowed by the men-folk who have the majority seats in Parliament.
There is strength in numbers and that is what our women parliamentarians need.
It is important, as Ms Katebe further stated, for Zambia, as a signatory to the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development, to put in place affirmative action aimed at increasing the number of women in decision-making positions.
We are in support of this sentiment and further argue that the protocols mentioned above should be domesticated to ensure that what is being preached indeed becomes a reality and not a mere fallacy.
ZNWL is of the view that legislation provided for through the Constitution would be the only sure way of attaining gender equality in all decision-making positions. OPINION