Zambia records significant drop in malaria cases from 7.6 million cases in 2020 to 2.9 million cases in 2021
By KENNEDY MUPESENI-
ZAMBIA’s Non-Traditional Exports (NTEs ) dropped by 5.7 per cent to K4.2 billion in October from K4.5 billion in September this year, the Zambia Statistics Agency (Zamstats) has said.
Zamstats indicated in its November bulletin that during the period under review, agricultural NTEs increased by 6.9 per cent while non-agricultural NTEs decreased by 9.9 per cent respectively.
By KENNEDY MUPESENI-
THE Government has called for import substitution in data storage and management systems in the country by utilising immense local data storage facilities. Technology and Science minister Felix Mutati said in an interview after touring Information and Communication Technology (ICT) facilities in Kitwe that the Government recently invested about US$52 million in establishing a data centre under Infratel.
By CHATULA KANGALI-
A LOBBY group that aims to ensure the economic liberation of Zambian entrepreneurs in different sectors of the economy has been launched.
The organisation to be called ‘Indigenous Zambian Lobby Group’ was launched in Lusaka on Friday last week.
By MAYA NTANDA-
THE North-Western Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NWCCI) is expected to host the 2021 mini expo/indaba in Solwezi on Thursday this week. The aim of the event is to enhance business and trade among captains of industry that include mining houses and Small and Medium Entrepreneurs( SMEs). Event manager Thandiwe Nglazi said in an interview that it was envisaged that the expo/indaba would enhance information sharing, collaboration and create possible partnerships that would help the Province to implement the development plans as well as the strategic objectives for the mining companies.
By Charity Moonga-
FROM childhood, 16-year-old Olivia Maila (not real name) has been a humble, respectful and intelligent girl.
But today, she stares blankly at a Grade Nine examination question paper.
All she is hearing in her mind is the constant crying of her newly born baby.
Olivia has just delivered her first child in the same week that she is sitting for her Grade Nine examinations, thanks to the re-entry policy which allows girls to continue with school even when pregnant.
This is how Olivia managed to proceed to take the examinations.
Olivia is not alone in this situation.
Hundreds of other girls in Zambia are faced with the same predicament and have to struggle through school either with a pregnancy or a baby.
Many of these young girls find themselves pregnant due to early forced marriages or defilement.
Just last week, the Government retrieved 19 girls from forced marriages out of 22 girls who were married off by their parents and guardians in Shiwang’andu district.
Shiwang’andu Education Board Secretary (DEBS) Kalale Katele said early marriages are rife in the district.
He said his office has managed to retrieve 19 girls from early marriages and has managed to put them back into school.
“We have a big problem in this school especially when it comes to the withdraw of girls who are forced into early marriage, and so far we have managed to withdraw 19 girls out of 22 who were married off by their parents, ” Mr Katele said.
He said this when Education Minister Douglas Siakalima paid a courtesy call on newly appointed Shiwang’andu District Commissioner Maureen Mwamba at her office recently.
Mr Katele said at Musonko Primary School,eight pupils who were all in Grade seven have become pregnant.
According to statistics, 4,042 GBV cases were recorded in the third quarter of 2021, in Zambia.
Worldwide, one in three women experience some form of physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime.
Violence against women is a public health crisis that does not only affect women physically, but affects their social, professional, mental and reproductive health.
It is a crisis that many are aware of, but do not understand the full effects on survivors of violence.
As Zambia joins the rest of the world in commemorating the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence, it is necessary to find a lasting solution to such abuses against women and girls.
The global theme for the programme, which started from November 25 and runs up to December 10, is “Orange the World: End Violence AgainstWomen Now!”
President Hakainde Hichilema says his Government is committed to fight violence against women and girls.
He described the vice as being detrimental to human progress.
“Violence against women remains the single most prevalent human rights abuse. Women are deprived of economic opportunities and access to education, thereby perpetuating gender inequalities,” he said.
The President said fighting GBV should not only be for the 16 days period, but for the 365 days a year.
Mr Hichilema’s sentiments were re-echoed by Vice President WK Mutale-Nalumango who said 16 days of activism should be extended throughout everyone’s lives.
“People should stop being silent on issues of GBV and this includes the victims. Do not intimidate the victims. Do not be silent but speak out for that child or woman. Statistics must break us and help us stand up against GBV because it leaves none of us safe,” Mrs Nalumango said.
She was speaking at the official launch of the 16 Days of Activism Against GBV in Lusaka.
“GBV against women and girls has an adverse effect on women and girls and they don’t participate in development of society. What difference will it make and what role are you going to play in eliminating or reducing GBV against women, girls and some boys and men,” she asked?
Mrs Nalumango said it is sad that GBV has an effect on families and on the country as it leads to losses on the nation.
She further said that the Government is concerned about GBV against women and girls and cited gender inequality and poverty, as well as imbalanced power relations, as the major causes of the scourge.
“It is sad that GBV cases are increasing and child marriages and defilements are on the increase. While many of the traditional leaders are fighting this scourge, I appeal to all other traditional leaders to assist curb these incidences now,” she said.
The Vice President said the Government is working on policies and legislation to put in mitigation measures for the GBV victims.
She called on stakeholders to continue assisting the girls and the vulnerable women in society.
United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)Country Representative in Zambia Gift Malunga called for concerted efforts in fighting GBV.
Ms Malunga said the United Nations (UN) in Zambia acknowledged Government efforts to address GBV and ensure the health and development of women, including placement of agender desk under the Vice President’s office.
“More needs to be done on violence against children and ending child marriages,” she said.
Ms Malunga expressed sadness that according to statistics, four in 10 women have experienced physical violence.
She said 46 percent of the women agree that it is justified for husbands to beat their wives in certain circumstances.
“One in three girls are married by the age of 18 and one in three girls below 18 years have already started bearing children. In most cases, GBV committed against girls is not prosecuted,” she said.
To ensure provision of post-GBV services, the UN wants to roll out fast-track courts and take care of GBV survivors.
The UN also wants to prevent and eliminate violence against women and girls by 2030.
Ms Malunga called on all stakeholders and the general public to join the fight against GBV in Zambia.
“Cyber-bullying and digital violence should be addressed especially for the women and girls as well as refugees.The scourge must stop and concerted efforts from all stakeholders are needed,” she said.
There is need for Zambia to address social and cultural norms that exacerbate GBV against women and children.
“Adolescent pregnancy and child marriages must be ended in this generation.The16 days are for people to deeply think about GBV in Zambia and ensure no life is lost due to GBV,” Ms Malunga said.
According to UNWOMEN, since the outbreak of COVID-19, there has been a spike in reports of violence against women.
Therefore, the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence is an opportunity to make a difference for the better and everyone has a role to play.
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Crimes of passion have continued to shock society and so have cases of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) which have equally continued to make headlines, indicating that communities are not getting any safer for women and girls.
Despite different reactions by all stakeholders who have been demanding that perpetrators be given stiffer punishment, there is need to look at other approaches in addressing Gender Based Violence (GBV).
For instance, advocating for adequate laws to be put in place has not yielded much positive results and for as long as people do not value themselves before they commit to a relationship, the cases of violence will continue to increase.
Now a public health problem, GBV cases in Zambia are said to be more common among married women.
This calls for collective effort in raising awareness among both men and women to learn to value themselves.
The 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence, an annual international campaign aimed at raising awareness to stop GBV, has come again.
The campaign, which started on November 25 and will run up to December 10,is here to reminding us of our commitment to stop GBV.
Author of ‘The Lady, Her Lover and Her Lord’ Bishop Thomas Dexter Jakes, popularly known as TD Jakes, explains how women need to forget the past and forge ahead into their future.
He also encourages men to benefit from reading his book as they are lovers of the women.
For instance, in the first chapter of the book, Bishop Jakes explains how Jesus, in the second greatest commandment, tells us to love our neighbours as we love ourselves.
It is from here where he observes that we cannot love our neighbours who are apart from us if we do not love ourselves.
In addition, he writes, ‘For how can we give someone a gift that we do not value or believe to be significant ourselves? Is it possible that this is the basis for so many dysfunctional relationships? Is it possible that so many people have a tendency to see themselves as insignificant and, therefore, open themselves to a life of abuse?’
According to the bishop, these and many other questions continue to cross the path of stakeholders as they try to address the challenges of SGBV.
However, a typical life for many in the African set up is to enter relationships with more expectations or the romantic narrative that we believe and hope that the relationship will complete us.
For others, they rush into relationships because they can no longer tolerate the persistent reminders of parents or the general rule that society rushes to them, coupled with the social challenges.
Scholars have reminded us that we are rarely armed with the right sort of self knowledge which leads us to a “live and lets live” approach in our relationships with others.
Furthermore, they suggest that before people commit themselves in relationships, it is important to ensure that they are ready.
This will help in understanding why one wants to get married, as the purpose is an important part of shared meaning.
Addressing social issues, such as GBV, through raising awareness in valuing oneself may be perceived as Western practice in the African culture, as the behavioural pattern seen in couples may need a new approach.
Sharon Mwape, a psychosocial counselor in Ndola, observes that much of our everyday life involves interacting with others and it is during such interaction that people decide how much to invest in the wellbeing of the others.
She said having seen how complex the problem of GBV has quickly turned into, there is need to approach it at an individual level with everyone taking responsibility for their actions.
Ms Mwape said the values that we hold for ourselves influence our thoughts, attitudes, choices and decisions towards others.
“When we have that self worth, and the practice of treating ourselves with the same kindness and compassion as you would treat a friend, the interaction must not lead to violence even when we disagree,” she said.
Look at the children who are coming from dysfunctional families, how do we expect them to behave when they grow as adults whose parents are addicts of alcohol and whose mothers spend all their time and energy on the streets trying to earn a living?
As a result, the needs of these children are emotionally absent.
And so, the cycle continues as we have a good number of children, who are emotionally unstable, growing up as adults with low self worth and psychological problems, hence the many social challenges that we see.
Ms Mwape said a lot of people are hurting and have not recovered from the pain they underwent as children and this is why we are having so many cases of GBV, defilement and many social vices because no intervention was put in place to help the victims heal
The Western concept of counseling is new and most of us frown at the notion of undergoing counseling.
However, the reality of the intensified problems being experienced shows us the urgent need for psychosocial interventions.
“Today we have a number of mental health cases resulting from stress, depression, different forms of abuse and because it involves close friends and family members, we choose to remain silent,” Ms Mwape said.
She said, naturally, we are not perfect, but we need to look at the extremes of how we are mentally stable, thus the need to address all forms of abuse with the behavioural attitude that we are seeing around.
Ms Mwape said there is potential to develop innovative approaches to psychological counseling, which can also help once such cases are identified, but this requires more experienced psychosocial counselors and psychiatrist.
She said individual counseling is slowly gaining popularity especially in urban areas.
That has led to more people being trained as counselors, though there is need to explore more options on how society can prevent GBV from an individual perspective.
Although GBV victims in a relationship can be educated, literate, or wealthy, the vice can
have long term psychological consequences and effects in many aspects of their lives hence the need to seek counseling for them.
It is only important that the current counseling approach for couples entering into marriage allows them to unpack their thoughts as this will not only build healthy relationships, but also build self esteem in individuals.
Therefore, as we continue the campaign to stop GBV and to raise awareness during the 16 days of gender activism, all approaches in this issue need to be considers.
By CHARITY MOONGA-
The Zambia National Men’s Network for Gender and Development (ZNMNGD) has called on Government to increase budget support to the Victim Support Unit (VSU).
Speaking in a recent statement, the Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) further appealed to the Government to recognise Men’s Day and establish a sexual offenders’ prison as a means of fighting Gender Based Violence (GBV).
ZNMNGD National Coordinator Nelson Banda said as Zambia joined the rest of the world to commemorate 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence, his organization was calling on the Government to consider the establishment of a sexual offenders prison as a priority in the fight against GBV.
He said the national Budget allocation to the VSU, through the Ministry of Finance, should make more funds available to the unit in the Zambia Police Service.
“The statistics that are released on a quarterly basis by Zambia Police are evidence enough that there is need for the Government to allocate more resources to VSU and equip them with adequate transport to enable officers to investigate sexual crimes and prosecute sexual criminals,” Mr Banda said.
He said most of the Government departments were well resourced, with adequate transport, and yet the VSU, which investigated complex sexual offences, hadan acute transport shortage which limitedthe investigation and following up of perpetrators.
Mr Banda said there was also need for the Government and other stakeholders to recognise International Men’s Day (IMD), which commemorated on November 19 every year.
The day was used to raise awareness about issues affecting men, such as factors that led to the men abusing women and girls’ rights.
He said commemorating IMDwas important to focus on the health and well-being of men, to promote and encourage positive male role models, celebrate the positive contributions of men towards family, communities, and promote gender equality by creating a better and safer place for everyone.
He said the commemoration of the IMD would also encourage men to teach boys about positive values, character and responsibilities of being a man; allow men to live lives of principles, character, values; and also to encourage men to start opening up to communicate about issues affecting them.
“ZNMNGD believes that addressing men, such as their poor health seeking behaviour, emotional and mental wellbeing will be a more sustainable way of preventing men’s abuse of women and girls’ rights,” he said.
Mr Banda said commemorating IMD should be an occasion to encourage men to promote gender equality, men’s involvement in family planning and child care activities as means of fighting GBV, which was currently lacking.
He said ZNMNGD believed that some of the strategies that had been employed in the past to punish sexual offenders had not yielded positive results as more women and girls had continued to be victimised.
“It is, therefore, high time that the country considers establishing the sexual offenders prison to quarantine sexual offenders and send a strong message to would be perpetrators that they risked being sent to a sexual offender prison should they be found guilty of violating the the integrity of women and girls,” he said.
Mr Banda said it was very disturbing to learn that over 12,000 girls were victimised in Eastern Province.
He said those who victimized that girls should have been in jail.
By KASONDE KASONDE-
THE Government has warned of the reversal of bad planning decisions deemed potentially harmful to citizens, the environment and a hindrance to smooth development.
Local Government and Rural Development Minister Gary Nkombo says it is the duty of planners to put the interest of the country first by unlocking the potentials of all regions in the ongoing implementation of the decentralisation agenda.
By JAMES KUNDA-
THE Government last night unveiled a skein of measures to get two million Zambians inoculated against the COVID 19 in light of the new Omicron variant, including restricted access to public offices and spaces to those without evidence of vaccination. The measures take effect from tomorrow, and cover access to markets, bus stations, with private business owners told to enforce the directives.
By FRANCINA CHOMBA-
THE Energy Regulation Board (ERB) has instituted investigations into the country-wide power blackouts experienced over the last three months.
The blackouts occurred on August 8 and October 8, and November 6, 2021.
ERB acting director- consumer public affairs Nasima Shaikh says investigations commenced on November 15 and were expected to be concluded by December 31, this year.