University of Zambia political science lecturer Lee Habasonda says women need solidarity beyond partisan politics, if political violence against them is to come to an end.

And UPND national chairperson Mutale Nalumango says violence negatively affects women’s participation in politics.

Speaking at an NGOCC-organised discussion forum on the political violence against women, Thursday, said considering a woman’s political affiliation before condemning violence against them was wrong.

“Women need collective solidarity against political violence. This means they have to condemn violence across party lines, what we see in our political space is that if a woman belongs to a party different from another woman, there is no condemnation, when it happens to them, they condemn. Unless you build collective solidarity to fight political violence, we will not make progress at all!” said Habasonda.

“We have seen in a number of incidences where women have been stripped but the other people on the other side of the divide will keep quiet until the issue happens in their own space. I also propose that there be institutional reforms to include special prosecutors to receive and address complaints regarding physical assault, psychological and sexual harassment against women in political activities. You know some matters such as sexual harassment against women in politics are difficult to talk about but these special prosecutors would be the channel through which these matters would be addressed and dealt with.”

And Nalumango said violence negatively affects women’s participation in politics.

“Women are affected by political violence and fail to participate. Because for us as women, even when you find two men fighting, the way men fight with blood all over, a woman doesn’t like it and so when women see the violence that goes on in our politics, they decide to stay away because they don’t want to be a part to this kind of practicing politics,” Nalumango said.

“We can only speak as women now, when I say now it is before elections. We’ll speak as women before elections because there are different levels. If we speak today, we come together and get rid of this political affiliation, we’ll speak one language.”

She charged that PF was a violent party.

“UPND is not equally violent as PF, the PF is a violent party alone. You will never find where the PF is having a rally and the UPND go there to cause violence, it is always when the UPND are having their meetings that you will hear that PF and UPND supporters were fighting, because the PF always follow the UPND to provoke them. And until Zambians start calling a spade a spade, until they start naming the violent party and stop this generalization, violence will not end in this country. People must tell the PF that they are violent so that they can start looking at themselves and start making amends, unlike this generalization which provides hiding space for the violent side,” Nalumango said.

“How can we even sit as women in political parties and allow violence? How can we talk about it? How can we sit there and my SG can command youths to beat other people, and I sit there? You are the one. We feel the pain, mothers still feel the pain of all those years ago, of the nine months plus. Why are our youths being used? Which security? I refuse that kind of security, I am here. From the political situation today, even me coming here is a danger because I don’t know. Like what he (Lee Habasonda) said, you go to the radio, you don’t know what is waiting for you outside. But I will tell you, I choose to move alone because it’s my country. We have to defy this violence, we have to stand against this violence.”

Nalumango said the Electoral Commission of Zambia was embroiled in fear hence failing to discipline the ruling party whenever its supporters perpetuated violence.

“There are already regulations that have been put in place. For example, the Electoral Commission can stop a violent party from participating in an election, but there is so much fear from the same institutions like the ECZ especially if the ruling party is involved. And you know when you give in to one, it will be difficult to make the decision,” said Nalumango.