By Duncan Mlanjira
From the 13 constituencies making up Blantyre District, there are 64 women aspirants vying for seats in Parliament and the District Council and all of them are being helped to campaign by National Elections Systems Trust in conjunction with Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare through the 50-50 initiative.
The Trust has a busy schedule for these women and so far they have managed to visit eight constituencies — Blantyre City South East, Blantyre City South, Blantyre South West, Blantyre Bangwe, Blantyre City East, Blantyre City Central and Blantyre Malabada and Blantyre Kabula where the aspirants are paraded to the public on whistle stop tours in order to market their manifestos.
On Monday they were in Blantyre Kabula Constituency to market four women aspiring Members of Parliament and Ward Councillors — Fanny Banda representing Freedom Party as MP and independent MP Gertrude Nakhumwa, while Elluby Ellies Banda is aspiring independent councillor for Mbayani Ward and Elizabeth Machinjiri also as independent councillor for South Lunzu Ward.
Last Friday, they were in Blantyre Malabada with five — United Transformation Movement (UTM) candidate Eleanor Harawa; independents Noria Kachale, Joyce Namba Chikafa, Bernadetta Limani Nanthambwe and aspiring councillor Chisomo Makachu of the United Democratic Front (UDF).
Next on the programme, according to the Trust’s projects officer, Chrispin Kasawala is Blantyre City West on Thursday, April 18.
The four Blantyre Kabula contestants were paraded in five busy business places — Mbayani Market, Gayesi, Chemusa, Chilimba market, Kameza roundabout market, Machinjiri Luwanda and Machinjiri Area 5 market.
Kasawala said: “The people were eager to listen and give the women a chance to participate in politics and decision making in the national assembly and in the Council.
“People now have a good idea on what 50:50 campaign is because even the candidates themselves, when presenting their manifestos, are making it clear why they need to take part in politics, saying women’s experiences are different to men’s and need to be represented in discussions that result into policy making and implementation.
“This activity has given the women the courage to be able to articulate concrete arguments on why they should be given the mandate to participate in policy making and implementation.”
The women aspirant MPs; Fanny Banda and Gertrude Nakhumwa are up against nine men also aspiring who are Shadreck Banda (independent), Robert Enock Chikafa (UDF), Miguel Andreas Elias (MCP), Rashid Abdul Gaffar (DPP), Samuel Jackson Kaphuka (independent), Rodney Apawo Supply Mpanga (independent), Francis Muluzi (independent) and Felix Njawala (UTM).
For Councillors, they are M’ngerezi Edwin Chithuli (DPP), Fred Eliot Msiyambiri (independent), Jafali Wyson Mzee (UTM) and Richard Elesoni Saudi (MCP).
The four women aspiring parliamentarians for Blantyre Malabada will be up against six men; incumbent Aaron Sangala of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Ishmael Mkumba of the UDF, Edward Governor of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and independents Kalua, Chopenga and Humphrey Mvula.
The 50-50 initiative from the Ministry of Gender aims at empowering more women to take up top leadership positions. Out of the 193 seats in Parliament there were just a few women MPs and there is the need to half or even more of the august House to be occupied by women.
They are brought together in order for the electorate to see the solidarity that should exist amongst politicians for the good of the people so that they should come up with informed choices.