Constitutional crisis looms over gender rule

Winfred Lichuma

Our politicians have decided that the gender agenda does not matter. That is why they have never implemented the gender rule.

But I am telling them that Parliament would be dissolved if we do not meet the gender rule in the August 8 General Election.

The Constitution is very clear about it. I don’t understand why we have reduced the issue to a women issue. It is a national issue. There is a looming national crisis and if we fail to get the gender rule, let’s prepare to dissolve Parliament as soon as we hold the next polls. Political parties may have a formula to resolve the matter but if they don’t give women space in the polls, we will have a constitutional crisis.

We have five months to the polls and the parliamentarians have refused to deal with the matter. I don’t see them coming up with any solution before the elections. Let them go out and campaign and if they fail to meet the required gender balance, we will seek dissolution of Parliament.

I don’t expect political parties to give women opportunity in the polls because the parties are owned by the same people who have frustrated the gender rule in Parliament.

The argument that women should be competitive as their male counterparts is neither here nor there. The Constitution had a reason for the provision. 

I would not want to say that women MPs normally stay away whenever a vote is taken over the matter. There is no political goodwill over the matter, even from the presidency.

— Winfred Lichuma, Chairperson, National Gender and Equality Commission

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