UPND deputy secretary general Getrude Imenda has invited former First Lady Maureen Mwanawasa to assist the party retain the Katuba seat and work towards the country’s vision of 50-50 gender representation by contesting on the party’s ticket.

Last week, Maureen encouraged all political parties in the country wishing to participate in the Katuba Parliamentary by-elections to field only female candidates in order to allow the country attain the 50-50 gender representation agenda by 2030.

Commenting on this suggestion in an interview, Imenda expressed excitement.

“The suggestion is very good, not only because of the 50-50 gender representation thing but in any case, that Katuba seat was held by a woman. The person we are replacing is Patricia Mwashingwele who was a woman. Even when you are replacing a screw after it falls off somewhere, you replace it with the same exact size because if you replace it with a different type it won’t fit. So by that reason, it goes without saying that definitely it is a lady that should replace Patricia. And then, we have very few female members of parliament as a country and this calls for our various political parties to be very affirmative in their actions. Without sounding like I am whining, I was a member of parliament for Luena and I should have been replaced with a woman because in Western Province, we don’t have a lot of female members of parliament. So really in Katuba I agree with Maureen, we need a female to replace Patricia Mwashingwele,” Imenda said.

Asked if the party would be happy if Maureen decided to stand in Katuba under the UPND ticket, Imenda said,“Of course we would be happy to have her contesting in Katuba under UPND. At least if someone like Maureen Mwanawasa stood on the UPND ticket, we could stand a chance of winning. So we are calling on her to stand on UPND because she’s already known and she can match any man that can be put up by the PF… I wouldn’t even say she resigned from politics because it’s like she just decided to say ‘let me for now not be participating in politics, I want to do my own things’. So this means she has not joined the Patriotic Front or any other party, that’s my understanding. So if she says ‘yes I want to serve the people of Zambia especially as a female’ and she comes back to the party, we can look at it because (we) still haven’t decided on who should stand in Katuba. We need someone who can face the PF candidate head on.”

She said it would be a tough election because PF would use any available means to try and hoodwink voters.

“But then there are certain snares which may make that very difficult this time around and in this by-election. Unless maybe Maureen herself wants to stand because at least herself she’s known and she can make a mark in terms of standing against a Patriotic Front Candidate. We are talking about a by-election where the ruling party has everything at their disposal. They are in charge of developmental projects which they can use to hoodwink the voters. They can simply go to Katuba and say ‘we are commissioning this and that’ or that ‘we know there is hunger so we are distributing food’…they even have some NGOs which are working with the Patriotic Front to go and distribute certain things during the time of elections, which is not right,” Imenda said.

Imenda said the competition in a by-election was always very disadvantaging to the opposition because the whole government machinery was used to offer support to a ruling party candidate.

“At a by-election you will see all the District Commissioners come from the whole Province to support a ruling party candidate and government officials and the Patriotic Front also being in government they’ve got a lot of vehicles and this makes it tough for the opposition. So if you get any lady from Katuba to contest, she may not even stand a chance… look at what happened in Kafue, our candidate in Kafue was the best but because the ruling party had so many things at their disposal. So that made our candidate not to even stand a chance. So maybe in Katuba we should identify someone who is very popular to stand against PF. Maybe in 2021 a female candidate can be considered for Katuba because then it’s each one for himself and God for us all. But still, I agree with Maureen that Katuba should be taken up by a woman, I just don’t know whether we can identify at this late hour a lady to take up that position,” said Imenda.

“We do not want to be labeled again… remember at the time of Charmaine? People were saying ‘no you should not have adopted Charmaine for Chilanga’ and a lot of names where called for doing that. So what we want to do what we did in Sesheke, we want the people there to give us a candidate.”