It is possible for Zambia to attain and eventually exceed 50-50 gender parity, says newly-appointed Ministry of Gender Permanent Secretary Sastone Silomba.

And President Edgar Lungu has warned all Permanent Secretaries to stop working in isolation, a situation which tends to undermine effective government policy implementation.

Meanwhile, the Head of State has sworn-in two new commissioners and chairperson to the Judicial Complaints Commission (JCC), tasking them to to carry out independent investigations relating to complaints or allegations of misconduct to give fair recommendations.

Speaking to journalists shortly after being sworn-in at State House, Friday afternoon, Silomba said there was need to operationalize the national Gender Policy and expressed optimism that exceeding the 50-50 gender parity in the country was possible.

“We need to operationalize the national Gender Policy, look at it in terms of its implementation. We understand that we need to do more in terms of mainstreaming gender in all the Ministries and to society,” Silomba said.

Asked if achieving 50-50 gender representation was possible in Zambia, Silomba concurred and said exceeding that threshold could be achieved.

“Yes, definitely! It’s possible, if we want we can even go to 60 per cent! There is nothing impossible; it is much attainable, you can see, His Excellency, the President, has been appointing our womenfolk in higher positions so we believe that can still do more and be able to reach 50-50,” he replied.
He pledged to work in closer collaboration with all stakeholders, including Gender Minister Elizabeth Phiri.

“It’s a winning team; you cannot win if you play the game alone. The Minister and the PS have to collaborate in all areas; there is politics-administration dichotomy, you cannot separate the Minister from the Permanent Secretary; all what is needed is to ensure that the Minister’s directive and us, technocrats, work together so that we achieve government policy,” said Silomba, who was former Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services Director of Planning.

And speaking earlier during the swearing-in ceremony, President Lungu warned all Permanent Secretaries to stop working in isolation, a situation which tended to undermine effective government policy implementation.

“…This is an unacceptable practice! This practice, I must say, is very devastating to the performance of some Ministries. So, in this regard, desist this temptation of ignoring your Minister (Phiri) and instead work very closely with her. I know that you are both sworn-in and appointed by the President, but that doesn’t mean that you can work alone because you are appointed by the President, it’s a wrong notion! That is not what it is supposed to be. I don’t expect you to travel out of station or out of office without your Minister knowing about it as is the case in some Ministries,” advised President Lungu.

Aside from Silomba, two JCC commissioners and its chairperson were appointed and sworn-in including: Irene Mwezi Kunda, Andrew Dean Mwansa Mumba and William Nyirenda S.C., respectively.