By Duncan Mlanjira
Five women aspiring women contestants for a seat as parliamentarians and councillor on Friday made a whistle tour of their Blantyre Malabada constituency in Ndirande to market themselves in one company courtesy of the NGO, National Elections Systems Trust.
The five were 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).
The four women aspiring parliamentarians 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.
Interestingly, Kachale and Chopenga fell in the DPP’s primary elections that were marred with controversy, forcing the two to opt running as independents.
National Elections Systems Trust projects officer, Chrispin Kasawala, told the gathering at all stops that the idea of bringing all contestants was to impress on the electorate to vote for women as opposed to men because the women are development conscious.
“This is an initiative call the 50-50 campaign from the Ministry of Gender Aimee at empowering more women to take up top leadership positions. Out of the 193 seats in Parliament there were just a few women MPs.
“We want you the people to consider empowering women through your vote. This time around we want half or even more of the august House to be occupied by women and it is possible through your vote.
“We have brought them all together because we want you to make the right choice. Listen to what they are going to promise that they shall do for the constituency and from that make some informed choices so that come May 21 you shall choose the right candidate,” Kasawala told the cheering crowds.
One by one the women aspirants unveiled their manifestos most of which was to improve most sought public services such as health, education, water, sanitation and good access road network.
Aspiring councillor Chisomo Makachu of the UDF took an extra mile when she announced that she already bought an ambulance which people can access at any time through an emergency phone line that will be available 24/7.
She also pledged to provide a bursary scheme to pay for school fund for all needy pupils at Malabada Primary School, popularly known as Green Makata.
Kachale said it is pathetic that Blantyre Malabada has been neglected for far too long in as far as good access road network is concerned as well as just having one health care centre that is so congested as it caters for several hundreds of thousands of people.
She pledged to be accessible to the people through the formation of a working committee, mainly comprising women, that she will work in close liaison with in order to be appraised on the first hand of what the people’s needs are.
UTM’s Harawa as well as independents Joyce Namba Chikafa, Bernadetta Limani Nanthambwe also impressed the gatherings with their confidence in articulating issues that are dear to the people’s hearts and needs to be improved through development conscious leaders.
In an interview, National Elections Systems Trust’s Chrispin Kasawala said so far the campaign to market women aspirants is on the right track having now been to seven constituencies — Blantyre City South East, Blantyre City South, Blantyre South West, Blantyre Bangwe, Blantyre City East, Blantyre City Central and Blantyre Malabada.
“The response from the electorate in all the constituencies has been very encouraging because at every stop the women aspirants attracted lots of supporters from different political parties.
“This campaign is positive because it encourages unity and tolerance amongst the aspirants and supporters. It’s teaching the people to unite for a common cause for the good of their constituencies.
The 50-50 campaign was initiated with funding from Norwegian Embassy through the Minstry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare.