KELVIN KACHINGWE, Lusaka
PRESIDENT Lungu has hinted that he may go for a woman as a running mate in the August 11 general elections.
The President made the indication in Lusaka yesterday at a Patriotic Front (PF) fundraising womenâ€™s breakfast that was attended by Vice-President Inonge Wina, party secretary general Davies Chama, his deputy Mumbi Phiri, freedom fighter Chibesa Kankasa and Kasanengwa Member of Parliament Victoria Kalima among others.
â€œFollowing on our resolve by our founding President to recognise women into senior positions in the public sector, I appointed first woman Vice-President Inonge Wina. She is the first but Iâ€™m sure not the last,â€ he said.
â€œGoing forward, this should be a matter of tradition, so those of you who want to be a running mate, you must be a woman. If youâ€™re not a woman, youâ€™re out.
â€œSo, here is an expose. Even in the constitution, there are principles guiding us, theyâ€™re telling us gender balance, parity. And as I make appointments, I will be balancing,â€ he said.
Mr Lungu has also called on women to step forward and participate in the affairs of the country.
He said the PF has made strides in fast-tracking women into key positions of leadership and has refused to pay lip service to the agenda of ensuring that women are equal partners in development.
â€œWhen you find an opportunity, use it. Please use me because I want us to have 40 percent women and 40 percent youth,â€ Mr Lungu said amid applause.
The PF has reserved 40 percent representation in local government, mayoral and parliamentary elections for women.
â€œIâ€™m, therefore, calling on women in our party to step forward and participate in our growing democracy. I donâ€™t want to be told that we donâ€™t have quality among women because we have. Just remove insoni (shyness) and umwenso (fear),â€ the President said.
â€œLetâ€™s ensure that we stop this pull-her-down syndrome,â€ he said in dismissing rumours about his alleged affection for Ms Mumbi Phiri.Â â€œâ€¦the idea is to make Mr Phiri stop her from participating in politics so that it becomes a male-dominated arena. Donâ€™t listen to gossip. Letâ€™s continue encouraging each other, and from there, we get the best from each other.â€
The President said the country should evaluate the progress it is making in ensuring that Zambia becomes a truly non-sexist society.
â€œWe must ask ourselves as to what more we must do to end all forms of women abuse and violence against women and children, including the terrible crime of rape,â€ he said.
President Lungu said it is the collective determination of the PF to recognise women as critical players in the country that has resulted in the reservation of 40 percent representation in local government, mayoral and parliamentary elections for the women.
â€œWe have made a resolve as a party to accelerate our progress towards gender equality in the public sectors and in society as a whole. It is a fact that our commitment as PF to profiling women into positions of authority is evident in the way we run our party and affairs of the State,â€ the President said.
And speaking at the same function, Vice-President Wina said President Lungu has publicly and privately told her that he wants to create opportunities for women.
â€œI stand here as a testimony. If it wasnâ€™t for a man called Edgar Chagwa Lungu, I wouldnâ€™t be standing before you. We thank you [President Lungu] for giving women opportunities,â€ Mrs Wina said.
She encouraged women to enter and serve in councils and Parliament because decisions passed there largely affect them.
PF chairperson for elections Jean Kapata said the party wants women to flourish as reflected in appointments which have seen various institutions being headed by women.
KELVIN KACHINGWE, Lusaka