Zambia: Nawakwi – the Ultimate Political Survivor

WHENEVER a female candidate vies for high political office, citizens are quick to recycle outmoded gender perceptions, especially in Africa where chauvinism is in our DNA.

Even in so-called civilised nations like the United States of America, chauvinism reigns as witnessed by what is happening now since some citizens consider presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton as an over-ambitious “woman campaigning for high political office.”

With this bigotry it takes a thick-skinned woman to enter the male-dominated and turbulent political career.

However, this gender bias is being hotly challenged, a classic example being that of the German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the recent ascension to power of the second female British Prime Minister Theresa May who, like Merkel, has defied gender stereotyping by holding the highest political office in Britain.

Back home in Zambia, we have our own Edith Zewelani Nawakwi who has cultivated an image of political steadfastness and unflappability that has stood her out in Zambian politics.

Despite being largely unacknowledged even by gender activists who are supposed to champion her cause, Ms Nawakwi has outlived other presidential candidates who have fallen by the wayside and has all the possibility of becoming Zambia’s first female president.

The very fact that she is contesting presidential elections for the second time is testament not only of the respect in which she is held in her party, but a demonstration that, in a world where political reputations can be shredded in an instant, Ms Nawakwi is the ultimate political survivor.

She came into the political limelight during the Frederick Chiluba administration when she successively held key ministerial positions like minister of Energy and Water Development, minister of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, minister of Finance and, finally, minister of Labour and Social Security.

She has immense experience in governance, which would make her a good president.

After Dr Chiluba’s aborted third term, Ms Nawakwi moved on to being vice-president of the Forum for Democracy and Development and (FDD), the party that was founded by former members of the MMD who left the party after Dr Chiluba attempted to change the Constitution to allow him to stand for a third term.

She became the leader of the FDD, succeeding the late Lieutenant-General Christon Tembo after being voted as party president in a democratic intra-party election.

Ms Nawakwi is known to have built a reputation of not giving up on things until they are finished. It is sad to note that Zambians have not acknowledged the fact that she came third in the last presidential elections, beating the former ruling party, the MMD.

A situation will permit itself to catapult her to Plot One to enable her achieve the goal of becoming Zambia’s first female president.

Source: The Times of Zambia.