A group of Lusaka women will this Friday lead residents to a gathering at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross grounds for “a sober introspection” regarding the degeneration of services in the country.

Alliance for Community Action (ACA) executive director Laura Miti, said in a statement, Monday, that some three women petitioned and convinced her organisation among other civil society groups to get involved in a gathering scheduled to be conducted under the hashtag: “Kwatha WhatIsYourNO”.

She explained that the gathering was agreed to following a suggestion by three named ladies who visited her office recently and complained about the trajectory the country was taking.

Miti explained that the gathering would, among other things, articulate the issues bothering each individual present, take time to reflect on errors and that the dress code would be “strictly funeral wear”.

“A couple of months ago, three ladies walked into my office. They introduced themselves as good friends – house wives who wanted to share something with me. They proceeded to say that they were worried about the trajectory the country was taking. In particular, they were worried that the problems the country was facing – poor hospitals and schools, water shortages, violence, hunger in homes, unemployment – were almost certainly affecting impoverished women the most. Poor women were silent at the bottom of the pile. They were of the view that, if women of all classes came together to combine their voices about the burdens they were privately bearing, they could, by use of their sheer numbers, successfully advocate for change for all citizens – men and women. As I listened, a chill ran up my spine,” Miti explained.

“I was awestruck by the ladies’ patent conviction as well as the enormity of their idea. I was awestruck by them simply. I could not have predicted that if someone shared with me the thoughts they were, it would be three women not linked to any organisation, not using civil society jargon – just saying ‘we are worried, we feel helpless but think we must do something.’ Long story short – these are the women behind the public gathering next Friday, that a number of people have been advertising. #Kwatha WhatIsYourNO is the slogan the women came up with. It calls on all Zambians to say no more to the degeneration of services in our country and to articulate what exactly is bothering each of us. Friday has been planned as a time of sober introspection in the Cathedral of the Holy Cross grounds.”

Miti called on all Lusaka residents to be part of the women’s initiative and further asked all well-wishers to donate vehicles that would assist in ferrying those who would have no means of getting to the venue.

“Following the Biblical way of donning sack cloth and ashes when people take time out to reflect on their errors, the dress code is funeral wear. Kwatha was birthed by women, seeking to garner the power and numbers of other women to influence the course the nation is taking. But Kwatha is for all – men and women. It is for every citizen who has privately wondered what they can do about our dear Zambia. I am hoping that Lusakans (Lusaka residents) come out in numbers on Friday. But I am sure that even if it is a small group that responds to Priscilla, Stella and Lulu, we as citizens will have begun to chart a new path for our country. To use our combined voices to influence those who make decisions for us all. Please bring someone along or donate a bus to ferry those who cannot afford to make it to the Cathedral. Kwatha must not speak for the poor and marginalised. They can speak very well for themselves. Let’s get them there,” urged Miti.