How women were hoodwinked by Sata

“From time immemorial, the middle class has used the lower class to usurp the upper class and immediately that is achieved, the lower classes have been pushed back to their place of servitude” – a very loose paraphrase of George Orwell in his book 1984. But it’s the first thought that came to my mind when I heard newly elected president Michael Sata announce his cabinet.This was his fourth attempt at the presidency – and aged 74 surely his last.

Richard Lee's picture

Author

Strategic communications for WWF

November 7th, 2011

“From time immemorial, the middle class has used the lower class to usurp the upper class and immediately that is achieved, the lower classes have been pushed back to their place of servitude” – a very loose paraphrase of George Orwell in his book 1984. But it’s the first thought that came to my mind when I heard newly elected president Michael Sata announce his cabinet.This was his fourth attempt at the presidency – and aged 74 surely his last. In 2016, he would be too old to run again.And he won – largely thanks to the women and youth vote, which gave him the final push to beat the incumbent Rupiah Banda.He had the chance to show his appreciation. Instead, he fell back on the traditional system: the voices of women and youth can be heard at voting time but they shouldn’t be seen afterwards.In his 19-member cabinet, there are only two women ministers – Nkandu Luo and Inonge Wina. His reasoning is that he had few female Members of Parliament to choose from. As for the youth, not only did he fail to appoint any youth to decision-making positions but he also raised the retirement age from 55 to 65.In addition, he had the opportunity to make a point – and a difference – when nominating his allotted eight MPs. He didn’t take it.Even when he took the progressive decision to appoint two women to senior posts – Rose Wandi to head the Anti Corruption Commission and Alita Mbahawe to the Drug Enforcement Commission – he took the joy out of the decision by saying he was appointing them because ‘women are less corrupt than men’.So my question is – if he knows this, why did he not entrust more women with positions of real authority?If he knows that corruption impacts negatively on development then it follows that the people best suited to enhance development are women.Both Sata and his Vice President Guy Scott have professional wives who are engaged in the women’s movement. Both of them were involved in the drafting of the National Gender Policy while they served government. It is quite a slap in the face for them to have their husbands preside over a government that is so biased in favour of men and that takes the SADC protocol on 50/50 gender parity at least two steps back.Sara Longwe – an activist who had joined Sata’s Popular Front campaign – says it’s always the same cycle. When male politicians want to win an election, they befriend the women and youth but when they get the votes they need, they put them back in their boxes.She had hoped that Sata would end the cycle but sadly it appears to have no end. 

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