Zambia’s only female candidate in the upcoming January 20 special presidential election said she’s in the race not because she’s a woman, but because the country needs a true leader.
Edith Nawakwi of the Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD) said her party is the most respected and attractive political organization in Zambia today, particularly in light of the level intra-party fighting that has been taking place recently both in the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) party and the main opposition Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD).
Her critics say Nawakwi is not electable, and that she’s in the race to split the vote.
Nawakwi said she is the only candidate who can rid the country of corruption, and that if elected, she will work to decentralize political and economic power.
“We are not in the race because I am a woman. I feel that among the candidates standing in Zambia, I think we possess the opportunity to do much better than my colleagues. I think for a long time in Zambia, the voters are saying that it’s an opportune time for a female candidate,” she said.
Zambians will vote in a special election to choose a successor to President Michael Sata, who died in October 2014.
Sata’s ruling PF party has been embroiled in inter-party squabbles over who should be the presidential candidate. Two competing factions have chosen two different candidates – Defense Minister Edgar Lungu and deputy commerce minister Miles Sampa.
The opposition MMD has also chosen two presidential candidates – former President Rupiah Banda and Nevers Mumba, the MMD’s current president.
Nawakwi said she has issued a statement admonishing the two parties that their infighting was a danger to state security. Nevertheless, she said the intra-party squabbles prove that her party is the most respected and attractive political organization in Zambia today.
She said successive Zambian leaders have failed the citizens through broken promises and now Zambian voters want a new leader.
Nawakwi said she is the only among the candidates who can move the country forward.
“Yes it helps if you are a woman because as a woman I possess abilities that my colleagues do not possess,” she said.
Nawakwi said most Africans are poor today because a lot of the continent’s human resources, particularly women and youth, have been left behind.
She said she will fight corruption in Zambia by decentralizing government.
“The root cause of corruption is embedded in the over centralized government system. The very nature of governance where excessive powers are given to the presidency is what causes corruption. And we are saying that the best way to deal with corruption is to decentralize political and economic powers,” Nawakwi said.