Africa-Press – Zambia. Zambians are regretting for voting for the UPND, says Elizabeth Phiri. And Phiri has bemoaned the decision taken by President Hakainde Hichilema for aligning the Ministry of Gender to the Office of the Vice President.
Speaking with Daily Revelation, Phiri, who is immediate past Gender Minister, said that the Zambian people are anxiously waiting for the UPND government to start delivering on its campaign promises, stating that citizens will soon run out of patience.
She pointed out that the UPND administration has already started backtracking on the promises it made to the Zambian people prior to the August 12 general election.
“We were promised a lot of things and that is the more reason why most Zambians voted for this [UPND] government. I know that people might be telling me that it’s too early for me to comment on the UPND administration. They promised us that once they are sworn in at 10:00 hours at 14:00 hours the US Dollar will drop. Before the Patriotic Front could leave government, the Dollar had started dropping. But today the rate at which the US Dollar is going up. We were promised free education; but recently we heard our Vice President Her Honour Madam Mutale Nalumango saying that no, we meant to provide bursaries for the poor. The UPND government is already backtracking on this campaign promises. And yet this is the programme that the Patriotic Front was implementing. That’s not what we expected,” Phiri explained.
Phiri also pointed out that the New Dawn government has also failed to address the issue of party cadres patronising markets and bus stations. “We were promised that there will be no cadreism. I am the immediate past member of parliament for Kanyama Constituency and I see a lot of violence, not only in Kanyama, but in other constituencies as well. Kanyama houses a lot of markets and UPND cadres are in the markets as I speak. We saw how bus drivers protested and they went to meet Minister of Local Government Honourable Garry Nkombo because of cadreism in bus stations and markets,” she recounted. She also stated that the UPND administration is not paying attention to the numerous challenges facing small scale farmers.
“We were promised that [the price of] fertiliser will drop. I am yet to see and know how much the farmers are buying fertiliser at. I also want to know when farmers will start receiving [subsided] fertiliser for this [farming] season,” Phiri explained. “We have also witnessed situations where farmers that have supplied their maize to FRA [Food Reserve Agency] is being soaked by early rains…it’s going to waste. And yet farmers have not been paid their money for the farm produce supplied to FRA. And no one in the UPND government is paying attention to that. So, when you look at all these things; I can see that there’s nothing we can call something nearer to what we can call truth. So, I think that people are now regretting for voting for the UPND under the impression that they were voting for change that would improve their livelihoods.”
Phiri has bemoaned the decision taken by President Hakainde Hichilema for aligning the Ministry of Gender to the Office of the Vice President. The former PF Kanyama lawmaker stated that the Ministry of Gender should have remained a stand-alone Ministry instead of aligning it to the Office of the Vice President ad a Department.
Phiri explained that Zambia has scored a number of successes in gender equality and gender mainstreaming when it had a stand-alone Ministry of Gender.
She said that the Ministry of Gender was going to discharge its functions efficiently and effectively if it remained a stand-alone Government Ministry.
Phiri stressed that the UPND administration has given advocates of gender equality a raw deal by aligning the Ministry of Gender to the Office of the Vice President.
“We have been taken aback…this is a step backwards. As advocates of gender equality and gender equity, I think we have given a raw deal by the move taken by the UPND regarding the Ministry of Gender,” Phiri said. “Countries in the SADC region and at international level of late have been paying particular attention to issues of gender equality and, usually, have established stand-alone Government Ministries to address issues surrounding gender equality and gender equity,” she said. “Now that the Ministry of Gender has been aligned as a Department to the Office of the Vice President, I am not sure if our country, Zambia, will be effectively represented at international fora that are converged across the globe to deliberate on gender issues when you just send a director in the Department of the Office of the Vice President.” Phiri has since appealed to President Hakainde Hichilema to reconsider re-establishing the Ministry of Gender as a stand-alone Ministry.