Ten Civil Society Organisations have jointly condemned sexist remarks from Patriotic Front (PF) members directed at Information and Broadcasting Services Minister Dora Siliya.

Two weeks ago, News Diggers! published a story in which President Edgar Lungu’s spokesperson Amos Chanda was quoted saying that State House was aware of the Constitutional Court decision to nullify the stay of ministers in office, hence the Head of State could not allow Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda to sign a sovereign guarantee for STAG Africa.

But at a press conference Chief Government spokesperson Dora Siliya distanced the presidency from the revelation, saying Chanda was speaking for himself because the Head of State was not aware of any such information.

Siliya’s ‘uncollective’ statement however angered some State House aligned PF youths Muniri Zulu and Chanoda Ngwira who made public derogatory remarks against the minister.

“When Dora was dating that Congolese boy Mark [Mubalama], her thinking was okay. Immediately Dora and Mark broke up, her thinking has become impaired. Some of us are beginning to wonder if her being dumped is affecting her work in government. We will not allow anyone to injure the presidency through the media or social media. If she knows that she cannot reason if she does not have a male partner, let her look for one. PF has enough youths at Intercity Bus Station to take care of her conjugal needs,” said Zulu.

But in a statement on behalf of the CSO’s, Non-governmental Gender Organizations’ Coordinating Council (NGOCC) Chairperson Engwase Mwale said such comments deter women from participating in leadership and other decision-making positions in Zambia, particularly politics.

“The Non-governmental Gender Organizations’ Coordinating Council (NGOCC), jointly with undersigned civil society organisations, condemn in the strongest terms the sexist and misogynistic attacks by named Patriotic Front members Messrs Muniri Zulu and Chanoda Ngwira against Information and Broadcasting Minister Dora Siliya in audio recordings that have gone viral on social media. The statements made by Mr Zulu and Mr Ngwira insinuate that women, and Honourable Siliya in particular, can only function well when in a sexual relationship with a man. The sexist comments are not only disrespectful but an affront and an insult to womanhood,” Mwale stated.

“We have sadly noted that women are particularly susceptible to this kind of attack which aims at demeaning them in ways that men are rarely exposed to. These statements are offensive to all women regardless of their political affiliation and must be condemned. It is these kinds of sexist comments that continue to deter women from participating in leadership and other decision-making positions in Zambia, particularly politics.”

Mwale also called on President Edgar Lungu to distance himself from what she termed as retrogressive male chauvinists.

“It is saddening that the moral fabric of our society is being eroded by such disgruntled Zambian youths who now feel entitled to openly insult their own mothers. We find it unacceptable for cadres from the ruling party, or indeed any political party, to disrespect women in such a manner. As civil society we demand that the Patriotic Front takes immediate action against their named members for disparaging women and publicly condemn these statements. We also call upon the Republican President Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu, who has publicly declared his commitment to supporting women in leadership, to distance himself from such retrogressive male chauvinists,” stated Mwale.

“We urge all political players to debate and discuss their differences in a more civil manner devoid of sexism and misogyny. As civil society and the women’s movement we advocate for an equal playing field based on issues rather than personal matters that are irrelevant to the political discourse. We believe that women, just like men, have an inherent right to participate in the political process of the country. We therefore call upon all citizens not to tolerate the sexual bullying of women in leadership by disgruntled elements.”