HONE SIAME, Lusaka
THE success of any political organisation depends on women who form the largest part of the country’s population.
Women, who account for 60 percent of Zambia’s population, are naturally gifted with refined mobilisation skills because of the influence they command at both family and community level.
The ruling Patriotic Front (PF), like any other political party, recognises the critical role women play in national governance and has incorporated them in its party structures to benefit from their God-powered influence in society.
The party is currently holding intra-party elections with three women vying for Lusaka provincial chairlady position and all have pledged to ensure President Edgar Lungu is re-elected in 2021 if they win the election.
The top seat is being contested by immediate past provincial chairlady Margaret Mumba, former diplomat and provincial mobilisation committee vice secretary Ruth Kawana and former Lusaka district chairperson Charity Banda.
All candidates are geared to use their experience to consolidate the ruling party’s support base in Lusaka Province by working hand-in-hand with their male counterparts to deliver victory for the ruling party in 2021if elected.
With the Constitutional Court clearing President Lungu to contest the 2021 through its last Friday’s landmark ruling in the eligibility case, their focus is to vigorously campaign for the head of State to sustain the party’s stay in office.
Ms Mumba, a former police officer, says Lusaka needs a woman of her calibre to preside over the party’s women affairs in the province.
She says her works as former provincial chairlady are there for all to see and that Ms Kawana and Ms Banda are not her match.
Having also served as Lusaka provincial chairlady during the Movement for Multi-party Democracy’s reign before joining PF in 2001, Ms Mumba says it will be suicidal for delegates to experiment with leadership.
“I know what our party structures needs and I am ready to meet their aspirations. I am very sure that I am coming back as provincial chairlady after the provincial general conference,” Ms Mumba said.
She says she will embrace her opponents if given another mandate so that they could collectively grow the party in readiness for the 2021 general elections.
On the other hand, Ms Kawana believes she is the best candidate with the right credentials to mobilise the party and provide the required leadership.
She says Lusaka needs a level-headed, hardworking and a highly exposed chairlady to meet the aspirations of women and the party leadership.
Ms Kawana, who served as second secretary for political and administration at the Zambian embassy in Germany from 2008 to 2013, says she has been in the party long enough to make a difference if given the mandate by the delegates.
Since her return from Germany, Ms Kawana has been instrumental in mobilising party structures at provincial level where she served at various positions and made immense contribution to the growth of the party.
“I have a lot of support especially in Lusaka rural. I want to help the party. President Lungu has done so much within the short time he has been in office. I want to work with my fellow women to deliver victory for him and the party,” she said.
Ms Kawana, a crowd-puller, wants to use the experience she gained when she served in the party’s mobilisation committee under the chairmanship of PF member of the central committee, Paul Moonga, to attain her vision.
In the run-up to the 2016 general elections, which earned President Lungu his first five-year term, Ms Kawana was appointed campaign manager for Munali constituency and delivered victories at presidential and parliamentary level.
When asked how she managed to score success in most of her roles, Ms Kawana attributed her feat to team work and servant-certain leadership style.
She said women and youth empowerment will be at the core of her leadership and has promised to roll out fundraising programmes to all party structures in the region upon assuming office.
She said Lusaka needs a highly-motivated membership to effect a successful mobilisation drive to recruit more members to make the party stronger in the entire province and has promised to provide such leadership.
Ms Kawana is currently working with former Lusaka Province youth chairman Kennedy Kamba, who is vying for the provincial chairmanship alongside former State House permanent secretary Emmanuel Chilubanama and former party secretary general Charles Chimumbwa.
On insinuations by Ms Mumba that she is a political novice, Ms Kawana, the former provincial information and publicity secretary, says those underrating her are doing so at their own peril.
Ms Banda is another contender and has assured party structures of providing an action-oriented leadership to be anchored on women and youth empowerment if elected.
“One way this can be effectively done is by asking our party president, who is also the head of State, to consider a deliberate move of allowing the 10 provincial chairladies to be members of the central committee.
“This will allow a fair representation of women in the higher party structures and create a balanced representation. This will motivate more women to participate in politics and bring about change,” Ms Banda said.
She plans to come up with empowerment initiatives for women and youths by soliciting for funding from different organisations to create a fund that will assist them with capital to establish their entities or grow their businesses.
“I believe we can help in supplementing Government’s effort in creating jobs and other sources of income for women and the youths,” said Ms Banda, who has equally congratulated President Lungu for being cleared to stand in 2021.
She says President Lungu is a hard worker with a heart for the people.
The former Lusaka Central constituency chairlady says she will ensure that the party remains united beyond the ongoing intra-party elections in honour of President Lungu and late President Michael Sata.
Ms Banda has called for issue-based campaigns from all candidates.
The race for the Lusaka provincial chairlady looks open and could go either way as all candidates have an urge to make a difference if elected.
There is no doubt that women are indispensable assets in the country’s political dispensation and should be given the necessary support to increase their numbers in decision making positions.
The onus is on delegates to the forthcoming provincial conference to choose the best candidate to preside over the party’s women affairs in Lusaka.
HONE SIAME, Lusaka