By Abraham Kalito

Veteran Politician Venon Mwaanga says persons who have not served as Members of Parliament should not be eligible for election to the office of Speaker of the national assembly.

And Mwaanga says Zambia should emulate the United States mid-term elections by adopting and electing more women into political decision-making positions.

In a Press statement to the media, Sunday, Mwaanga said a person who has never served as MP would not understand the machination of the National Assembly, despite the education.

“Having first entered Parliament as a young man in 1973, it is also my considered view that persons who have not served as members of Parliament, should not be eligible for election to office of Speaker of the National Assembly. One just has to look at our former Speakers for example, Dr Robinson Nabulyato, Wesley Nyirenda, Fwanyanga Mulikita and Amusaa Mwanamwambwa. All of these distinguished citizens had previously served in Parliament,” he said.

“Notwithstanding one’s level of education, it is difficult to fully comprehend the practical machinations of a Parliament without having served as one. We would not, after all, expect or even accept for someone that has never been a Teacher to suddenly become a Headmaster. If the standards of Parliament are to be upheld, then it should remain a place for parliamentarians.”

Mwaanga also said the country should adopt amendments to the Constitution of Zambia, which will have at least 50 additional seats specifically reserved for women while political parties should adopt more women to compete in the political field.

“The outcome of the US mid-term elections, which saw so many women elected to the US House of Representatives, and a few more to the Senate, is a very welcome and heart-warming development. There shall now be nearly 100 women in the US House of Representatives. Out of a total of 435 members, 225 of these are Democrats. Among them, will be black women, hispanics, moslems and indigenous native Americans. It is an open and disappointing secret that American women have had a difficult political transition to gain political legislative power and have lagged well behind African countries like Rwanda and South Africa, which have a much higher percentage of women in their legislative bodies of government. It is evident that the ‘Me-Too Movement’, which was formed to expose and stop the sexual harassment of women has been very pivotal in motivating women in America to seek political power. They still have a long way to go to match countries like Rwanda and South Africa, but they are on the match which will be difficult to stop,” said Mwaanga.

“Here at home, very little progress has been made by women in the political arena be it in Parliament, Local Authorities and in the corporate board rooms. Both SADC and the AU have been proactive in encouraging and even urging its member states to have gender equality in its legislative bodies. Sadly, this is falling on deaf ears, and both bodies lack the legislative authority and organisational capacity to enforce their recommendations. Political parties adopt very few women in what are considered safe seats. We should adopt amendments to the Constitution of Zambia, which will have at least 50 additional seats specifically reserved for women, where they will compete among themselves, using proportional representation. An identical proposal was agreed to by the National Constitutional Conference and incorporated in the draft constitution, which failed to pass in the National Assembly in 2011. As we look at improving the Constitution of 2016, let us have this clause reintroduced and passed, so that more women sit in our Parliaments and local councils.”