UPND president Hakainde Hichilema says women are more loyal and trusted than men in the UPND, citing the number of male councillors who have defected to join the ruling Patriotic Front.

And Hichilema says Zambia still needs proper dialogue to help with policies that will improve women’s participation in decision-making positions.

Speaking during the opening of the UPND national Women’s Wing workshop, Monday, Hichilema said there was no question about the fact that trust levels were higher among women in UPND.

“As a leader of your party, servant of your party, I have seen the trust levels and I am open to say it here between men and women: the trust levels are higher among women, there is no question about it. Look at the councillors that are being bought: how many women are being bought ? How many men? Look at elected officials today in UPND who are misbehaving? So, do you need to convince me that we need women councillors, we need more women MPs, and we need more women chairpersons,” Hichilema demanded.

He urged women to mobilise and come up with measures that would ensure that UPND won the 2021 general elections.

“So, we have to mobilise and she (Mutale Nalumango) has mentioned NRCs, voter’s registration, turning up to vote so that we can win and win big! When we win, we can also protect our vote. This party has a history of letting go what they worked hard for three times: 2001, 2015, 2016 so as you sit here, you know if you allow your vote to be taken away, it means you have denied your child an opportunity to go to school; you have denied your child an opportunity to get a job when they complete school because many of your nieces who are above 22, 23 years, 25 years they have graduated from college they are still being looked after by you,” Hichilema said.

“Are you bringing people to the party? Ndimwe musunga banja (you the ones keeping the family) are you reconciling those…? It is a woman who builds a house or home a country nimwebo (it’s you). So, build this country through this party. I love this party myself I wouldn’t exchange my membership for this party with any other party. So, therefore, I get surprised that people sell themselves like tomatoes in a market. What is it that mulefwaya, mufuna chani (what do you want)?”

And Hichilema urged women to support the party’s position that the Constitution Amendment Bill No. 10 was wrong, adding that the controversial Bill did not address the plight of women representation in Parliament.

“I would like the women of our party to support the position that the current Constitution Amendment Bill is wrong! It was conceived wrongly; we don’t want you women making statements in the provinces ati: ‘we are going to support because they are talking about one carrot called proportion representation’; that is a bait! That does not represent what I want to say now. What I want to say now, as the UPND in government, if the Constitution does not change, we will change the Constitution through a proper process led by the Church Mother Bodies, inclusive dialogue, persuasion, not coercion currently. The current national dialogue NDF process does not help in the manner I am explaining because it is cherry-picking.” Hichilema said.

“We need a dialogue process, not Bill 10; a proper dialogue process that is, as people say, (where the) process protects content; the current process does not protect the content. We need to take away Bill 10 from Parliament and table the Constitution amendments that are required, including proportional representation, and three Church Mother Bodies leadership will bring everybody, we achieve consensus, we persuade each other; we are inclusive, not an NDF, which was based on jail threats through that Bill 10? No, takana (we have refused)! We need a process that will help women and other citizens or groups, including those that live with disabilities.”

He said the UPND would only support a constitution process that will allowed for equity in politics.

“Let us support a proper constitution process that allows equity in our elective office; equity in the professional service; civil service that the UPND want to bring back so that more women can be more permanent secretaries; more women can be directors; more women can be in charge of departments where there is hunger…like this, the UPND would have declared disaster long time ago and with it comes support from co-operating partners, who have what we call contingency budget. But they can only be drawn if there is declaration of hunger as a disaster; that is the argument we have been making. So, we want to hear more of this things from you,” he said.

He bemoaned the challenges women still faced in politics.

“We are challenged today’s by violence in the political arena; how do we send our women in a violent arena? We are challenged with financial resources; how do we send our women to be a councillor and successfully campaign and win an election? Isn’t it because we want to win in order to implement our vision? It is not just equity for the sake of equality and then we say in the UPND we have equality and then we don’t form government we cannot actually bring value to the women. How do we come round that that is our challenge now? And I don’t want to see this workshop just having a tug of war, no!” he added.