By ANDREW MUKOMA
CREDIBLE elections can only happen when the marginalised such as women and youths actively participate in politics, says Chikankata Community Schools Development Project (CCSDP) executive director, Siabalumbi Siamoongwa.
Mr Siamoongwa said the voice of women and youths was critical in the governance of any nation, hence the need for them to participate in elections.
He was speaking at the civic education training workshop for traditional leaders, media, women and youths in Dundumwezi.
The workshop was funded by the Carter Centre, focusing on promoting the rights for women and youths to participate in public affairs.
Mr Siamoongwa said it was for that reason that political space must accommodate the marginalized groups so they too could participate in governance issues.
“Credible elections can only happen when the voice of the oppressed such as women and youths is heard and can actively participate in politics.
He said violence against women and youths in elections is a threat to the integrity of the electoral process and quality of democracy because it leads to their exclusion from having a voice in the political sphere as well as governance of the country.
“We have noted that women voters and candidates face harassment, threats and other abusive and degrading behaviours. We need to ensure that perpetrators of such violence do not go unpunished because the victims who are women and youths have a duty to effectively contribute to the governance of the country which leads to a free and fair elections.
“As CCSDP with funding from the Carter Centre under the project focusing on promoting the right for women and youths to participate in public affairs, we are conducting civic education trainings in Choma and Kalomo districts to sensitize the masses against these vices,” he said.
He observed that violence during election campaigns hindered citizens from focusing on real issues that candidates were supposed to be addressing.
“Attacking the personality of candidates is not good hence we need to promote an atmosphere of issue based campaign,” Siamoongwa said.
And a female participant, Phoria Milimo, said fear, intimidation and lack of confidence affected women participation in politics.
Meanwhile headman Ntibwe called for zero tolerance towards gender related violence in politics to enable more women and youths participate in the affairs of the country.