9 March 2014

Malawi: Give JB Own 5-Year Term - Tanzanian Activist

Lilongwe — Renowned Tanzanian women movement activist, Gertrude Mongele, Saturday appealed to all Malawians to give their vote to President Joyce Banda in the forth coming polls saying two years were not enough.

Mongele, former Beijing Women Conference Secretary General and former President for the Pan-African President made the appeal during the International Women's Day Commemorations in Lilongwe where hundreds of women from various sectors convened to observe the Day.

"I'd be a hypocrite if I don't campaign for President Joyce Banda - that would be hypocrisy of the highest order," Mongele told the women.

She added: "We have come a very long way to get where we are and I want to assure you that Tanzania, Zambia, Kenya, Rwanda, in fact, the entire SADC region is watching to shame the women of Malawi who will try to undo what we are all cerebrating."

Mongele added that basing on how best she knew President Banda from her early days of activism; the Malawi leader would do more than she had already done given the five-year term come May 20.

"Two years are not enough even for a baby to run," said Mongele, "Give President Banda a full term and I appeal to you all not to hold her hand down because when you do that, we all lose, and that's not what we gathered in Beijing for 20 years ago."

Another earlier speaker, Gladys Mutukwa, a prominent Zambian lawyer and passionate supporter of the 50-50 Campaign, also drummed support for the Malawi leader and she appealed to Malawi women to be proud of being the first to produce a female president in the region.

Mutukwa said she had worked with President Banda from way back in different forums and that it was historic and momentous to call someone you worked closely with 'Your Excellency'.

Said Mutukwa: "So many times we have tried and so many times we have been frustrated in our efforts to achieve this. I salute my sister for being the trail- blazer and we have proven wrong our colonial rulers - Ian Smith in particular - who said in Zimbabwe, then Southern Rhodesia, that not even in 1,000 years shall a woman be a president in the region."

She urged all Malawians to "grab the opportunity with both hands and run home with it and preach to others" and that Malawians should take advantage of the break and build on it for continuity.

In Malawi, the 2014 International Women's Day commemorations were held under the theme, Malawian Women Arise! Time is Now!

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