Wednesday 24 February 2016

Zambia's Gender Based Violence Cases Shoot To Alarming Levels

By Paul Shalala
A bill board against defilemnet

Cases of gender based violence (GBV) have reached alarming levels in Zambia to an extent where school-going girls are now being taught not to allow their older brothers or fathers to touch them.

GBV is so common that the media in the country has now made it one of the stories being given prominence in the news.

This situation has led to activists, government and interested parties funding prevention programs and erecting huge billboards to try and fight the vice.

Defilement, which forms part of GBV, is the most prominent in the news.

A recently released annual survey by the Zambia Police Service has revealed that in the year 2015, the country recorded 18,088 defilement cases which resulted in a 16.2% increase as compared with 15,153 cases the previous year.

These figures keep rising despite massive radio, TV and newspaper sensitisations and the rural programs the women's movement is currently implementing.

According to the Police report, other forms of GBV, aside of defilement, have also seen a rise in cases reported.

"Topping the list of cases reported were 6,205 Assault OABH (Occassioning Actual Bodily Harm), 2,759 defilement, 1,569 neglecting to provide and 1378 failing to provide cases. Other commonly reported gender based violence cases included Rape, Assault on a child, Indecent assault, Murder, Incest, Sexual Harassment, Child desertion and Unlawful wounding," read part of the report.
An anti-GBV bill board

However, these figures are only a fraction on what actually happens countrywide.

Most GBV cases in the rural areas are not report to the authorities due to fear of reprisals from the community or due to cultural practices.

According to some activists, men who defile girls as young as two or three years do so due to some false health beliefs.

"Some men believe that when they have HIV/AIDS and sleep with a child, they get cured of the disease, this is the reason you see men defiling children as young as two months," said an activist who spoke on condition of anonymity.

As a way of fighting the cultural part of the GBV cases, traditional leaders have been incorporated to try and discourage their subjects from marrying off under age girls.

In August last year, Zambia joined the 'HeForShe' campaign, an international campaign to fight GBV which has so far incorporated chiefs and civic leaders to spearhead the fight against abuse of girls and boys.

So far, the campaign has been introduced in most rural parts of the country with bicycles being distributed to those at the core of its implementation.

Recently, Zambia's Gender Minister Nkandu Luo, while addressing chiefs in the north of the country, disclosed that one-stop-centers had been set up in several communities where GBV cases can be reported and dealt with.

Senior Chief Nkula
Professor Luo said: "The centers will also be furnished and computers will be bought to allow for easy tracking of cases. We know that more needs to be done but for a start, we thought of establishing the offices first."

One of traditional leaders who has taken the fight against GBV personal, is Senior Chief Nkula of the majority Bemba speaking people.

At the entrance to his palace in the town of Chinsali, are inscriptions in the local Bemba language warning his subjects against marrying off their school-going children.

Inside his palace, the chief has decorated his sitting room with several certificates he has been awarded for standing up to the rights of girls.

Sunday 21 February 2016

Political Parties Pledge To Mobilise, Support Women Candidates

By Paul Shalala
Zambia has more female voters than males

Seven political parties on the Copperbelt have pledged to work together across party lines to help more women get adopted ahead of the August 11 general elections.

The seven include the ruling Patriotic Front, UPND, Democratic Front, MMD, FDD, Rainbow Party and the National Restoration Party.

In a communiqué read on Friday by MMD Copperbelt Province Chairlady Edith Mataka, the parties have pledged to mobilize all women across the province to support women candidates at Councilor, Member of Parliament and Presidential levels.

The communiqué was arrived at after the two days Women’s Development Dialogue in Kitwe which was attended by over 300 aspiring candidates for councilor, mayor and Member of Parliament drawn from all districts on the Copperbelt.

The Non-Governmental Organisations Coordinating Council (NGOCC) organized the event and brought specialists to teach the women how to win adoption and sustain their campaigns.

“We resolve to unite across political affiliation to mobilize our fellow women to rally support for our fellow female candidates as Councilors, Members of Parliament and Presidential candidates ahead of the 2016 elections,” read part of the communiqué.

The women also condemned the recent violence which has rocked the political scene.

“We condemn the recent political violence that has characterized the political arena and some of the entrenched cultural and traditional practices that have been inhibiting the participation of women in politics.”

And during the closure of the dialogue, NGOCC Executive Director Engwase Mwale said the organisation had launched the Vote for a Woman campaign.

Engwase Mwale
“We want the men to support us. We are used to saying ‘behind every successful man is a woman.’ Now we also need the men to support us by giving us a 50-50 gender parity during the adoptions,” said Mwale.

The Kitwe dialogue was the tenth and last provincial dialogue the NGOCC was holding across the country.

Two weeks ago during the Northern Province Women’s Development dialogue in Kasama, the organisation launched the Vote for a Woman campaign.

Under this campaign, the organisation will give capacity building to female aspirants.

Further, the organisation plans to pay for live radio phone-in programs were female candidates can feature and sell their manifestos.

Currently, out of the 158 Members of Parliament, only 22 are female while out of the approximately 1, 444 councilors countrywide, only about 82 are women.

Tuesday 9 February 2016

Kafubu Water To Feed, Compensate Luanshya Sewer Victims

By Paul Shalala in Luanshya
Chishimba Kambwili

Chief Government Spokesperson Chishimba Kambwili has directed Kafubu Water and Sewerage Company to immediately provide food and compensate two families of Luanshya's Mpatamatu area whose houses were flooded with sewer on Thursday.

Mr Kambwili, who is also Minister of Information and area Member of Parliament, says it is unacceptable for Kafubu Water and Sewerage Company not to help the affected families who have been spending nights in the cold.

Speaking yesterday when he visited the affected families in Section 27 area of Mpatamatu, The Minister urged the families to write down all their household goods which were destroyed by sewer and submit them to the water utility firm for compensation.

"I want you Kafubu to replace everything that has been destroyed within 14 days. Where you will get the money i dont know. If you don't do that, heads will roll," said Mr Kambwili.

He further said the utility must also give food to the two families as their relish and mealie meal was destroyed by the sewer which flooded their houses.

"These families have no food. Tomorrow i will be in Lusaka but by mid day i should get an update that you have delivered the food to them," he said.

And Kafubu Water and Sewerage Company Director of Engineering Benjamin Mwale told Mr Kambwili that the houses were flooded after the sewer line was blocked by waste.

"With the onset of the rain, waste is collecting in the sewer. Unfortunately, Section 27 is the lowest point and all sewer from Mpatamatu comes here before it goes to the ponds," said Mr Mwale.

The sewer system in Mpatamatu is very old and dilapidated.

Blockages in the system is a common occurence.

However, the Danish Government has provided funding to Kafubu Water and Sewerage Company to upgrade the whole sewer system in Luanshya.

Works on these sewer lines have started and residents here are hopeful that the project will put an end to such unfortunate incidences.

Sunday 7 February 2016

Two Luanshya Families Left Homeless As Sewer Floods Their Houses

By Paul Shalala in Luanshya
Overflowing sewer in Mpatamatu

Two families of Section 27 in Luanshya’s Mpatamatu area are spending nights in the cold and living in fear of diseases following the flooding of their houses by sewer.

On Thursday, sewer from toilets flooded house numbers 275 and 235and destroyed several household goods such as carpets, clothes, mealie meal and food stuffs.

The residents feel they are not safe from waterborne diseases.

The overflowing sewer spread across the whole house destroying everything that was on the floor.

The residents are now worried that their houses are no longer safe as they can contract waterborne diseases any time.

A few hours after the incident, workers from Kafubu Water and Sewerage Company went on the scene and applied lime on the sewer to neutralize it.

"Our officers applied lime on the sewer to neutralise it. We will continue to monitor the situation for any eventualities," said Fales Mwanza, Kafubu Water and Sewerage Company Public Relations Officer.

Those who witnessed the incident were shocked. 

"The sewer which flooded my house was almost knee high. I used a broom to sweep it out of the house and am worried this can bring diseases," said Dickson Kapisha.

Another victim Catherine Chipito had no kind words for the water utility.

"People from Kafubu Water came here and did literally nothing. They only splashed lime outside the house. How about inside? How will we survive with our children? We want them to compensate us," she said.

Government is worried that the dilapidated sewer line which has been serving Mpatamatu area has now started flooding people’s houses.

"We have a very old sewer system in Luanshya. This flooding of houses in Mpatamatu is not the first time. But we are hopeful with the coming of the Danish government funding that the situation will soon improve," said Luanshya District Commissioner Harold Mbaulu.

The houses still have a heavy stench and the occupants can not manage to spend nights inside.

They have removed all their household goods and placed them outside their houses where they are spending their nights.

As the clean up continues, occupants of these houses hope authorities will help disinfect them to ensure their safety.