Friday, March 09, 2012

Sata refuses to join Tonga tribal fights

Sata refuses to join Tonga tribal fights
By Agness Changala
Fri 09 Mar. 2012, 12:00 CAT

PRESIDENT Michael Sata says some chiefs in Southern Province want him to succumb to Tonga tribal fights. And President Sata has upgraded the Gender Division at Cabinet into a ministry.

Speaking during the commemoration of International Women's Day, whose theme was 'Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures: Mentorship for Success' in Lusaka yesterday, President Sata said there were chiefs who at one time criticised him for removing Chirundu and Itezhi Tezhi from Southern Province but the same chiefs went back to him, asking him to split Southern Province into two provinces.

"They want me to succumb to Tonga tribal fights because there is a super Tonga, a plateau Tonga and an inferior valley Tonga," he said.

And President Sata said he upgraded the Gender Division to a full ministry as a way of thanking women for the unity they had exhibited.

He said men had failed to exhibit the same unity and that others were even too ashamed or proud to attend the function even after an invitation had been extended to them.

President Sata also transferred the PF chairperson Inonge Wina to the new ministry and promoted former deputy minister of Gender Emerine Kabanshi to Minister of Chiefs' Affairs.

He said this year's theme sought to promote the encouragement of girls in all aspects of development and reminded everyone of the responsibility of ensuring that girls are treated with respect and provided with the inspiration to aim at having health and productive adulthood while actualising their potential to the fullest.

President said the day was also a constant reminder not only for the government but all stakeholders that girls and women are equal partners in development and that their rights should be respected.

"This government takes this stance seriously," he said.

President Sata said he did not believe in providing a slot in the constitution to work to the advantage of women because he wanted them to compete with men.

He said women in his party participated in elections under difficult conditions and that opportunities to women would not be given on a silver plate.

President Sata said the government had given opportunities to women and girls to participate in decision-making positions and that most schools were being headed by women.

He said to show the commitment of promoting women in decision-making positions, the government would domesticate the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Girl Child and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

President said Sata the cause of gender-based violence was idleness by most youths.

He said if the boys could be provided with employment, they would not have time for attacking young girls.

"So we deal with things which are causing our boys to attack girls, because they are lazy and the Bible says lazy hands are always tempted," he said.

President Sata said unemployment had created poverty in the country.

He said if unemployment was tackled, poverty would be easy to handle.

President Sata also directed the ministries of justice, gender and child
development to work with relevant institutions and ensure that appropriate conventions on the right of the child are domesticated.

And Non-Governmental Organisations Coordinating Council (NGOCC) asked President Michael Sata to show the commitment he had shown to the fight against corruption to gender-based violence (GBV).

NGOCC chairperson Beatrice Grillo said the government should also provide adequate resources to implement the GBV Act.

United Nations representative Khan Wignaraja pledged commitment to helping the country address the problem of GBV.

Meanwhile, women braved the rains during the commemoration of International Women's Day.

The march past that started on a good note, experienced some confusion when it started raining, causing participants to scamper in different directions.

Later after the rains subsided, the situation normalised.

And Anglican Diocese of Eastern Zambia Bishop William Mchombo says some of the abuses against women emanate from their lack of economic independence.

In his International Women's Day message, Bishop Mchombo encouraged the government and other stakeholders like NGOs to support programmes that help women become economically independent.

"All forms of abuse eat at the core of our humanity and good neighbourliness.
As a nation, we need to come up with strategies that will combat the root causes of these evil acts. While stiffer penalties may act as deterrents to such despicable acts, we should encourage our lawmakers to expunge from our statutory books that work against the aspirations of women. Aren't we all created equal before God?" Bishop Mchombo asked.

He said in Zambia, the day was being celebrated against the backdrop of despicable acts ranging from spouse battering to defilement and rape mostly perpetrated by men against women.

"We applaud our women for their contribution to the development of this nation in different spheres of their operations notwithstanding the challenges that they have to deal with in a male-dominated society. Listening to the news on radio or TV or reading in newspapers, one is overwhelmed with the sad news that a young girl somewhere has been defiled or raped and later murdered. Sometimes it is women who are well advanced in years who are raped by younger persons. The perpetrators of these heinous crimes are in most cases known by their victims. It could be a relation, a neighbour, a parent, a teacher for school-going girls or worse still a clergyman," Bishop Mchombo said.

He said it was unfortunate that there were no safe places for women and children.

"In most cases, it is a person who is well known and trusted by the victim who betrays the trust. The home, the classroom, the neighbourhood, the workplace is no longer safe for a woman; even sacred places like churches have fallen prey to evil-minded persons masquerading as men of God. Credit goes to all organisations and individuals who have taken it upon themselves to sensitise our girls and women in reporting all forms of abuse to relevant authorities for appropriate action," Bishop Mchombo said.

"The press should go beyond reporting the story and find out why the perpetrators carry out their heinous acts in the first place. This might help the nation to come up with strategies that would help in protecting our women and give them back their freedom."

He endorsed the idea of coming up with quotas to allow as many women as possible to participate in governance and decision-making positions.

"In case of appointments, this should be done meritoriously. The Ministry of Community Development and Social Services should be seen to be active at all times and not only at election time in supporting various women's clubs. We encourage all our womenfolk to stand up for their rights," Bishop Mchombo said.

And Community Development deputy minister Dorothy Kazunga says the International Women's Day was a constant reminder not only for the government but for individual men, women, boys and girls that girls and women were equal partners.

And during the International Women's Day commemoration at Chipata Golf Course, Kazunga said women and girls had the right to be respected.

She said the PF government took the day seriously.

"In order to ensure that we put into practice this commitment in as far as the right of the girl child is concerned, the government will systematically domesticate the provisions of the conventions on the right of the child and the convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women as outlined in our party manifesto," Kazunga said.

She said some of the pieces of legislation contained some of the provisions of the two conventions.

And Copperbelt Province permanent secretary Christopher Mutembo said society should not relax in combating the alarming levels of child defilement and gender-based violence.

In a speech read for him by Kitwe district commissioner Mwape Kasanda during the commemorations of International Women's Day, Mutembo said there was need for urgent and intensified interventions to protect the lives of women and young girls.

Mutembo said it was saddening to note that many lives of girls and women had been lost in recent times to due to defilement rape and wife battering and other evil acts perpetrated by men.

He said the commemoration of International Women's Day was a reminder to everyone the responsibility of society to treat girls with respect and inspire them to live and become healthy and productive adults while actualising their potential to the fullest. Mutembo said time had come for both men and women, government and all stakeholders to take stock of their participation in creating an enabling environment conducive for women to thrive.

And Kitwe District International Women's Day Organising Committee chairperson Grace Mikunga said all stakeholders had a responsibility to ensure that cases of defilement and gender-based violence were curbed.

Mikunga said it was distressing that despite government stiffening laws and other measures put in place to end such vices, the country had continued to record a sharp rise in violence against women.

"It is sad that when we went round the schools some of the pupils were able to open up on the abuse they were undergoing and they have failed to share the information openly for fear of reprieve and discrimination," Mikunga said.

She said there was need to operationalise and implement the Anti-GBV Act to end such vices.

Riverside ward councillor Christopher Kang'ombe said councillors had a civic obligation to fight gender-based violence and defilement.

Giving his reflections on the International Women's Day, Kang'ombe observed that the commemoration of the day this year had been overshadowed by the alarming cases of GBV and defilement.

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