THREE women NGOs have petitioned the Constitutional Court of Zambia seeking the Court’s intervention in redressing discrimination of marginalized women and youths from participating in the democratic governance of the country.

In a joint statement which was read by NGOCC Legal Advisor Daisy Ng’ambi, NGOCC, Chapter One Foundation, and the Young Women in Action charged that the past successive governments had ignored the constitutional requirement to include women, the disabled and youths in government positions.

“The importance of equity and equality in the democratic governance of the country cannot be overemphasized. Everyone has the right to take part in the government and public affairs of the country, to vote and to be elected. Beyond elective office, every citizen regardless of any other consideration has the right to participate in the governance at different levels. However, over the years’ women, people with disabilities and indeed the youths have been systematically discriminated against participating in the governance of their country. This is despite the fact that both women and the youths constitute the majority of the country’s population,” Ng’ambi said.

“It is against this background that we the aforementioned organisations have today, Thursday 10th September 2020, lodged a Petition in the Constitutional Court to among other seek the Court’s intervention in redressing the historical and structural discrimination of these marginalized groups. The Petition before the Constitutional Court is in accordance with Article 2 of the Republican Constitution which provides that “Every person has the right and duty to; (a) defend this Constitution; and (b) resist or prevent a person from overthrowing, suspending or illegally abrogating this Constitution.”

Ng’ambi said the Constitution provided for the inclusion of women, youths and the disabled in all the governance spheres, which all successive executives had ignored.

“As you may be aware the constitution clearly provides for the need for the inclusion of all in the governance of our country. The constitution provides for the inclusion of women, youths and the disabled in all the governance spheres. However, the practice in the recent years since independence in 1964 has been such that the Executive specifically the successive and current Head of State have ignored these very important Constitutional provisions in their appointments and nomination,” Ng’ambi said.

She said the NGOs wanted the court to compel the government to include the listed groupings of people in key government positions.

“As evidenced in the appointment of Cabinet and the nominated Members of parliament, the Executive have continually ignored these provisions and thus continuing to exclude a critical part of the population from both participating and benefiting from the various development processes of the country. As stated the organisations are therefore seeking specific orders from the Courts to ensure that the youths, women and indeed people with disabilities are included in the governance of the country,” Ng’ambi said.

She added that the proponents of Bill 10 had been lying to people that the law, if enacted, would address this challenge when in fact not.

“In the last few months the proponents of Bill 10, specifically Government have been misleading citizens that the Bill will ensure the equitable representation of women, youths and disabled persons when in fact the same Government has failed to implement the current Constitutional provisions as provided in our laws as we are demonstrating in the Petition. It is therefore our fervent hope that the Constitutional Courts will help in redressing the long-standing injustice and exclusion of citizens from participating in the governance of the country,” said Ng’ambi.