PF national chairperson for women and gender Elizabeth Phiri says it is unfair to think that she cannot hold any key positions within the party just because she lost the Kanyama parliamentary seat.
Last week, Kantanshi PF member of parliament Anthony Mumba lamented that those currently at the helm of the opposition party contributed to the humiliating 2021 loss.
“There was a talk that members of parliament are the life blood of the survival of the party because they provide a better platform of being on the floor of the House. There was a discussion that they will become members of the central committee to try and support the decision making. For me, I find it very strange that you have Elizabeth Phiri who lost in one of the largest constituencies in Zambia, Kanyama and you immediately appoint her as chairperson for women. Where will she get the moral authority to be respected when she lost elections? So you will discover that the decision making in the central committee is somewhat based on comradeship and not quality to contribute to the growth of the party,” said Mumba.
“If you look at the people at the face of PF, they represent the humiliating election loss of 2021. They have gathered courage because of the meetings they have and how they encourage themselves that they are the ones to carry the baton against UPND in 2026. I think that is a joke.”
But in an interview, Phiri said she never applied for her current position but was simply appointed, adding that she wouldn’t mind paving way for new leadership.
“I cannot say much on the decision of us being in the central committee. This is the very reason we are just waiting for the convention. I for one would not mind to pave way for anybody that would be ready to take up my position. Take note that as Elizabeth, I never appointed myself. I was appointed by the appointing authority because I never applied for it. So the appointing authority saw it fit that maybe for now, I can hold that position. Talking about the loss in Kanyama, it was not a loss that should be attributed to me. In 2016, I had 36,000 plus votes that took me into parliament. In 2021 I actually got more,” she said.
“This means that I maintained my 36,000 and got 38,000 plus. What affected these votes is the system of registration where somebody could register in Monze and decide to vote in Kanyama. People that voted in Kanyama most of them voted with their luggage on their shoulders. The true Kanyama residents voted for me. I attracted extra votes because of my performance. I am not ashamed to go into Kanyama because I have performed as an area member of Parliament. There is no parliamentarian in Kanyama who [I] could say did better than me. The people that are boasting of winning, you should check their constituencies and what they have done.”
Phiri said those who were boasting about winning parliamentary seats only emerged victorious because of the party or lack of stiff competition.
“So those that are boasting I feel for them. They had won not because they performed more than me but because of other reasons and maybe because of the party or they had no stiff competition. I am a proud loser and I would rather lose with dignity than win without dignity. I did projects without government’s help such as the double storey police post. So if they say I lost and that I do not deserve to be the national chairperson for women, then I am sorry because this position does not benefit anybody,” she said.
“What I did in Kanyama benefited Zambians. Most of the people that voted were not Kanyama residents. Where can they get 177,000 registered voters residing in Kanyama? I can assure you that while I appreciate those that voted for me, you should look at the celebrations. After I won, it took a long period of time for people to stop celebrating but there were no celebrations after I lost. I had to sacrifice my own allowances for the community and I have walked out without money but I am a proud losing MP. In five years, I did things that people failed to do in two to three terms in Kanyama constituency.”
Phiri said she was a proud loser because she lost with dignity.
“Besides, this is a temporal position and it does not benefit me. We are just waiting for time so that I relinquish and give it to the right people. If they connect these positions I hold to my loss, I think it is very unfair. I would ask them, if I built a double storey police post and I lost, what did the winners do? I left Kanyama a better place than I found it and I am proud to lose with dignity. We go into these offices to serve the people and not to make names. So I would rather be called a loser and people enjoy what I have done during my tenure. So before they condemn me as a loser, ask them what they have done in their constituency that has beaten my record. So if they are saying I am not supposed to be a leader for the women, I am sorry I am not even craving this,” she said.
Phiri said she would not even consider contesting for her position at the upcoming PF convention.
“I have respect for the appointing authority that I could not say no. I never even applied for it. I think even the appointing authority had its own reasons why they had appointed me. I am waiting for time to hand over to the new leader. It is very soon that the convention will take place and I will not even contest in the convention for this position because I do not get paid for it. It is not benefiting me and it is not benefiting Zambians. So people say I cannot be because I lost? I am a winner in the eyes of good people in Kanyama,” said Phiri.