By Richard W
The efforts for women to take up leadership positions has not produced the desired results in Zambia where women make up 18% compared to South Africa and Rwanda where they make up 41.8% and 61.3% respectively in parliament (2014). Some will point to a cultural inertia that stops both men and women for entrusting women with leadership. Some will point to a weak affirmative action programme or incentives for women. Is it due to a lack of capable and courageous women out there? However one thing rarely pointed to is the performance of the women currently in prominent leadership positions. How have they fared, especially on the political scene in earning the trust and confidence of Zambians? There’s this notion that women are motherly, incorruptible and peaceful, has this been proven by the current leaders? The numbers in our cabinet and parliament do not indicate much progress, but has their performance done so? There have been some shortfalls that have dented the current women leaders’ ability to be pathbreakers for future female leaders and hampered their ability to continue smashing the glass ceiling.
Ireen Mambilima (30%)
There is no better way than to start with the most important job held by a woman. Chief Justice Ireen Mambilima’s reputation was spurred by how she firmly handled the 2011 elections. Fast forward to 2017, she is now heads arguably the worst judiciary in the history of Zambia. The questions begging answers is whether she is colluding with the law abusers or just incapacitated by the system to take corrective action. She is falling back on her reputation at an alarming rate. Has Iron Lady become “Mangishi Lady”?
Inonge Wina (15%)
Say whatever you want, Inonge Wina is vice president because of nothing but of the role she played as chairperson of PF, to allow Edgar Lungu’s faction to hold a sham convention and elect Edgar Lungu. A convention which was later legitimised by corrupted officials in the Judiciary. One of Inonge’s shortfalls is not due to her decision but due to her indecision. As the first female Vice President she is the de facto number one women rights activist. Her reaction to three publicised separate incidents of gender violence was disappointing and can be likened to St. Peter’s triple denial. First was a UPND lady (name withheld), who was stripped naked by PF cadres on youth day in 2015 a few metres away from where Inonge was sitting. Her crime was wearing UPND regalia. Inonge’s responses in parliament fell short of someone who was pursuing justice for women. Then came the shooting of Mapenzi Chibulo, to date government has not rendered an apology to her family or any official condolences. Her response in parliament where full of denials and dreamt up theories trying to divert responsibility away from the police. Then in 2016 Komboni radio proprietor Lesa Kasoma was assaulted by ten police officers despite having a court order allowing her to access her premises. Despite overwhelming evidence, Inonge in the parliamentary dock, made a ridiculous claim that Lesa Kasoma had assaulted the ten officers. On three occasions the Vice President had an opportunity to take a nonpartisan stance and defend these young women, but she decided to bury their rights and spat on their graves. To her saving the face of PF was more important that giving dignity to these women.
Pricilla Isaacs (5%)
Since 2011 elections her performance as head of ECZ has not gone without criticism. The worst of all has been the 2016 elections. The tip of the ice berg has to be the capture of an intruder in the ECZ IT room, her reaction to this was a simple, “we apologise”. An objective Zambian can deduce that behind Chavula was a powerful corrupt cartel that tempered with the 2016 elections. We later on saw a Director who was not in control of the process and had no idea what was going on behind the scenes, as PF thugs took over the process even posting conflicting figures. Whether the election disputes are justified or not, everyone agrees on the multiple incidents of electoral malpractice and that puts into question the competence and integrity of Priscilla Isaacs. Was this woman part of the syndicate that committed a treacherous electoral robbery from the Zambians?
Professor Nkandu Luo (21%)
Luo and Mwanakatwe are currently sitting of Doreen Mwamba’s and Charlotte Scott’s eggs respectively. When Nkandu Luo a gender activist, health activist, accomplished academician was found guilty of using violence in her campaign it marks a low point for this big reputation. Did she have difficulties taming her cadres or was winning elections at all cost, her priority? In the larger scheme of things, the malpractice was too much in her constituency to dissociate her from involvement. The fact that these two Luo and Mwanakatwe are eating Masuku off the heads of Doreen Mwamba and Charlotte Scott is a disgraceful woman against woman perfidy.
Dora Siliya (8%)
Dora’s Political career has always had a monkey on the back, corruption. She has failed to shake this off. The cases against her fell off after she pledged allegiance to Lungu. Her character is controversial to justify as a trait of good leadership. She has used her courage wrongly except for the middle finger she gave PF during a parliament walkout protest in 2015. Ironically, given that she is now minister in the same PF, that middle finger is still raised even higher, at the same PF. Her desperation for power was laid bare when she and the rest of eastern province candidates went flat out tribal under the stewardship of their tribal Godfather Rupiah Bwezani Banda, with a disgraceful “wako ni wako” message. This tribal scandal didn’t get the critism it required simply because of the double standards of PF supporters. Is this level of desperation giving any hope to principled future female leader?
Lilian Shawa Siyuni (2%)
I can’t think of one word to describe her because I have a lot. Spineless, heartless, ruthless, puppet, thick skinned, unstable, coward, bootlicker, incompetent, corruptible, I could have even used local terms but that would be unfairly cited for defamation. She is effectively an agent of oppressors, torturers and intimidators. She is protected by the law, even from the president, but is not brave enough to save her own reputation. At the risk of being sexist, one can ask if this is the foolish female trait of being submissive.
Edith Nawakwi (20%)
Edith Nwakwi’s inconsistency in her political ambition is not only hurting her but also demoralising her female supporters. Her selling point of being a mother is now tired. Especially due to the culprits already referred to in this article. She is like that uncle who always knocks ten minutes before dinner time. She is never around until day filing in of nominations. Her silence is always loud, because her campaigns equally are always aggressive and fairly comprehendible. But she lacks the following and genuine trusts from Zambia, because we have to play hide and seek with her all the time. As Zambia’s most outspoken woman what did they do to Nawakwi, that made her go mute in the face of the gross defilement of judiciary?
Mumbi Phiri (1%)
Mumbi Phiri is anything but not one any young woman should look up to. She is literary louder than Nollyhood movies. She is too snoopy. At some point she used to find herself on government trips to the UN summits in no capacity apart from Chief Nosey-parker. She can switch from dancing in church with the president to giving orders to the police IG. One moment, she is provoking Mrs Hichilema, the next lecturing Musi Maimane on democracy. Even Doctors and professors get lambasted by this talky, stalky politician. And when we get tired of her, she will bring up her need for another baby. Anything she will address as long as she can open her mouth.
Con court Justices: Hildah Chibomba, Anne Sitali and Margret Munalula (0%)
These are the she-devils of justice in Zambia. Together with the male counterparts blasphemed against the trinity of democracy, separation of powers, by colluding with the executive to deny justice to all citizens. If the Con Court heard the petition and Edgar Lungu won it, he would have earned more legitimacy. If HH won it, we would have had a re-run. Whatever direction the petition would have gone, it would have prompted corrective measures for our electoral process. These justices should avoid the mirror at all times, because a face of shame is felt the most by the one who wears it.
It is clear some Zambian women leaders so far haven’t lived up to the basic expectation of representing women’s interests. The women have also corrupted the system and are fighting fellow women with it. For instance, Charlotte Scott won her petition after a FEMALE ECZ director mismanaged the elections. Charlotte is currently failing to get a hearing at the Con Court because of the three FEMALE Justices there, who believe in the new adage “Justice delayed, gets you paid”. The FEMALE Chief Justice won’t even intervene at all. If Charlotte organises a protest a FEMALE PF official, Mumbi Phiri would mobilise thugs. The police would arrest Charlotte and a FEMALE DPP would tramp up charges against her, a FEMALE minister of religious affairs will censure Charlotte and be sued for contempt of court and the FEMALE DPP will enter a nolle. That’s just how our female leaders have been successfully groomed to intoxicate the system. That’s why women across the country from all works of life have lost hope, become frustrated and begun attacking men. Men have been poisoned, stabbed, baptised with hot cooking oil, punched, “de-penised”, shot at, spat at, head butted, kicked in the nuts, elbowed, clawed, tackled, Nkonyo-ed and hit with any handy three dimensional objects available. Some men who have run to the Victims’ Support Unit for help, have ended up being punched further by female police officers there, saying, “Naimwe mumachilamo!”
However, there’s no need to lose hope, Zambia is blessed with a lot of resolute women out there. I can mention of Linda Kasonde who has had confrontations with statehouse, the PF hierarchy and PF thugs. She has still held on to her guns and was on guard of the rule of Law. Pamela Chisanga has taken on big multinational companies over unfair tax practices, her job made difficult by the collusion of MNCs with politicians. She could have easily been bribed and silenced. Any limited impact in her work can only be attributed to the fact that this appears to be a one woman battle, since most professionals have sold their souls to the devil, the capitalists. As the fourth estate wanes, Laura Miti still writes fearlessly about the rot in government. With a stoke of a pen that stings those in power bluntly and incisively. She makes us see just how corrupt, ridiculous and disingenuous our leaders are when it comes to policy or application of the law. Martha Mushipe, remains a resolute figure within her party and in the courts defending innocent youths on tramped up charges. Her confrontation with ECZ in the 2016 elections, scared ECZ so badly that they had to stop taking questions. Some called her rude and disrespectful, but sometimes a woman has to do what a woman has to do in this macho world i.e. fasten her chitenge, point fingers and “ponta and soka” in between claps. If you are not into politics or on its side-lines you can look up to Mutinta Hichilema, her composure throughout the incarceration of her husband has been remarkable. She spoke out not only for the release of her husband but for justice as a whole in our country. From the ton of her voice you couldn’t sense any hatred for police (poop-lice) for dehumanising her home. If Mutinta and Shawa were to cross paths, there is only one person who would pretend to be answering the phone. Many other women can be mentioned here but space can’t allow. Zambians should be contemplating making substitutions because the current crop of female leaders are not vigilant enough but have sunk into the political sofas, sipping coffee and chatting about which part of Dubai they can find nice heels and wigs.
What is the least we should have expected from these women in taking corrective action when all avenues fail? Resigning can send a message and whistle blowing is an option, but the most important should be, being resolute against men. Women have to fight at all fronts, fight the misogyny, the sexual harassment, the bullying, discrimination, the underestimation, the sexism and the culture. Your pretty faces won’t fight for you. Your buttocks won’t fight for you. Your sweet voices won’t fight for you. You have to be qualified, earn your positions through competence (not motherliness) and be resolute. Men always have an appetite of normalising corruption and political manipulation in order to dominate others, and will easily put women in that trap. If women fall for it, we get the result of the current crop of women leaders, who enjoy the comforts of power amidst gross discrimination against women. God bless the women.
Disclaimer: The articles is not overlooking the many contributions the quoted women have made but just pin pointing some of their crucial decisions and mistakes that have undermined people’s trust and confidence.