VICE-PRESIDENT Inonge Wina says the failure to pass Bill 10 will have devastating effects on several governance issues. According to her, this Bill was key to empowering women, youths and the disabled. She wonders what explanation she will give to women who were hoping to be empowered through the legislation of Bill 10. We couldn’t help but laugh hearing this from the Vice-President.

“The non-passing of Bill 10 will have a devastating effect on many issues. I just wonder how the people who are celebrating [the defeat of Bill] today, whether they will be able to face the youths, the women, the people with disabilities. Mr Speaker, for the last 50 years, the women of this country have struggled to have their voice heard in decision-making organs. And this was quelled by the opposition that felt that women should not come to the table where decisions are made. So, what message should we take to the women to tell them that the opposition political parties do not want to see the advancement of women because Bill 10 was going to introduce affirmative action where the number of women in Parliament and in councils; the number of youths in Parliament and in councils; the number of people with disabilities in Parliament and in councils would have increased. But now, this will not happen. This was the only chance that the advancement of women in decision-making positions would have been realized,” Wina told Parliament during Vice-President’s Question time on Friday last week.

We agree with the Vice-President that our women and youth need empowerment and they deserve a place on the decision making table. But we disagree with her that this could only be done if Bill 10 was enacted. This is a lie and the Vice-President knows this because she is a living testimony against what she is trying to make people believe. Firstly, even if we were to agree to the so-called proportional representation in Parliament, Bill 10 did not and does not explain how this model would be structured. PF simply wanted MPs to say yes to the proposal in the Bill so that the actual decision to allocate seats and to delimitate constituencies should be left to a simple majority. So it is clear that the PF has ulterior motives on this matter.

We disagree with the Vice-President when she says Bill 10 was the only chance that the advancement of women in decision-making positions would have been realized. Madam Wina herself is the first female Vice-President of this country, was there Bill 10 when she was being considered by the President for that job? Between 2011 and 2020, we have seen the first female Vice-President, the first female deputy Inspector General of Police who went further to become the first Female Inspector General of Police. During this same period, we have seen the highest decision making position in the judiciary moving from one female Chief Justice to another. We can add that we have also had a second female Minister of Finance. That is not all, currently law enforcement agencies, Anti-Corruption Commission and Drug Enforcement Commission as well as the Financial Intelligence Centre are headed by women. All this has been happening without Bill 10 being in effect.

So we don’t understand why our first female Vice-President is trying to paint a false image that in the absence of Bill 10, no one will ever care about the plight of women. It is incorrect and also shameful for Madam Wina to try and convince people that the collapse of Bill 10 marks dooms day for Zambia. We know this development has left the ruling party devastated and there is finger-pointing going on, but that does not mean the whole country is or will be affected by this defeat.

Women and youth empowerment is a matter of political will. If the PF is dedicated and truly committed to empowering women and youths, they must start by adopting them to fill 60 per cent of their parliamentary and local government seats in the 2021 elections. If they can’t do that, it means they are not confident that they can win and it also means they are not truly committed to empowering women and youth. It also means that they are merely politicking and trying to make political gains from cheap propaganda. PF must not blame it’s incompetence on Bill 10.

We have seen in the past that we have a government that does not respect laws of the land, so we wonder why they are wailing uncontrollably over the downfall of this Bill 10 when in practice, they have no regard for the Constitution. Is there anyone in PF who can explain why the Cabinet has been borrowing billions of dollars without approval from parliament? The law says Parliament must deliberate before contracting debt so that our loan acquisitions can be scrutinized, but has this PF regime respected that provision in the law? The answer is no! So why do they want to fix laws which they don’t even care about?