Non Governmental Gender Organizations Coordinating Council (NGOCC) Board Chairperson Mary Mulenga says the council has launched an election strategy for 2021 that aims to ensure political parties adhere to the African Union 50/50 protocol for women participation in positions of governance.

In an interview, Mulenga said it was disappointing that there was no political will in the adherence of the protocol despite Zambia being a signatory to it.

“When it comes to what is on the ground, we have always said that we need the political parties to commit. In fact, right now with our member association, the Zambian National Women’s Lobby (ZNWL), we have come up with a strategy for the 2021 election what we are calling the ‘election campaign strategy for 2021’, and we will be knocking on the doors of these political parties either as individuals or in groups to say we have a legal framework which says Zambia is a signatory to the 50/ 50 protocol, how can we make that happen?” Mulenga said.

“Not long ago, our colleagues in South Africa they attained that, call it a miracle or goodwill, we don’t know but the fact is it can be done if there is political will. So whether it is opposition or the ruling party, we are yet to see the reality in the pronouncements that are made when it comes to women participation in politics. We are still crying to say that we have not yet met the numbers.”

She said political leaders were fond of making rhetoric statements on women participation in politics.

Mulenga said UPND president Hakainde Hichilema’s statement last week, that there was need for more women in leadership because they were loyal, was a good one which needed to be backed by action.

“I think if you know our stance as NGOCC, we are non partisan that is our values and focus, we are non partisan. So if a woman will stand on party A,B,C,D whether it is PF, UPND, FDD, where ever, it does not matter. If you have been following our stance from time and immemorial, we will applaud any political party that will adopt more women in the interest of meeting the 50-50 AU protocol. Yes, the UPND can make that pronouncement but in reality if we go back in history has that been done? No!” said Mulenga.

“So it is good that he (Hakainde Hichilema) can make that pronouncement but many people make pronouncements and many of these pronouncements are rhetoric. Even the ruling party we have been appealing to them I think the case in point is the Katuba by election. Did UPND, did PF adopt a woman? No! For me, I think pronouncements should be seen in action, so we are grateful that he (Hichilema) can make that pronouncement but we are yet to see the reality of that pronouncement. Because if you look at the statistics, we even said in the last statement when honorable Mumbi Phiri and Margaret Mwanakatwe positions were taken away, the numbers had even gone lower because we were at 18.9 per cent for ministerial positions and I think 25 per cent for members of parliament.”