A Karonga based local non-governmental organization (NGO) Foundation for Community Support Services (FOCUS) has appealed to traditional and church leaders to garner support for female shadow Members of Parliament and Ward Councillors for the forthcoming general elections.
FOCUS made the appeal Friday when it took the 50:50 campaign to the district’s two constituencies, Karonga South and Nyungwe where it also unveiled female candidates for the two areas and four Ward Councillors for the Local Government.
Speaking at Hangalawe ground on behalf of all traditional leaders, village headman Mwakanyamali in senior chief Wasambo, group village headwoman Mponela said time has come for people to put women in elective positions through this year’s general elections as men have failed to solve myriad of problems face in the district.
“Without sounding political, we will spread the message to our subjects to lobby for support for all female candidates regardless of their political parties. Having being disappointed by men for quite a long time, it is high time we tried women who we think will not desert us and settle in cities,’ Mponela said.
Mponela, however, advised the female candidates that should they get the nod to represent them, they should prioritize social amenities such as potable water in hard to reach areas, electricity and health facilities to ease long distances that patients more especially their fellow women endure in search of water and health facilities.
Taking her turn, an independent shadow Member of Parliament for Karonga South constituency Sangwani Nyirenda said what FOCUS has done has given female aspirants courage and strength for the May 21 battle, saying the ball is now in their court to make good use of the rare opportunity.
“We are thankful to organizations such as FOCUS which have sourced funds for our campaign. We do not take this for granted. This is why on behalf of my fellow women aspirants here I would like to take the challenge upon ourselves to go flat out there and continue what FOCUS has already started. We promise not to let these organizations down,” Nyirenda said.
On her part, Karonga District Gender Officer Martha Kalumbi told the gathering to vote for women as men have been tried and tested in the previous elections but have ended up disappointing electorates.
Robert Silungwe, 50:50 campaign project officer at FOCUS advised traditional leaders to embrace the initiative without looking at aspirants’ party colours as the aim of the project is to up the number of female representation at both Local Government at Parliamentary level regardless of party affiliation.
“My piece of advice to both traditional and church leaders is that you should go out there with the message that would benefit all of these female aspirants. Do not preach the 50:50 campaign messages with favour. Treat these women equally as they are all bonafide daughters of this land,” Silungwe said.
FOCUS is implementing the 50:50 campaign in all the five constituencies and 10 Wards where there are female aspirants with funding from 50:50 Management Agency (MA) through Action Aid Malawi.