Namakau Siyanga mourns Victoria Kalima-Phiri
By Fullman Mukobeko and Derrick Sinjela
NALELI Women’s Initiative (NWI), an organization that spearheads entrepreneurial mentorship a group of over 1000 vulnerable women in business in Livingstone has mourned Gender Minister Victoria Kalima-Phiri (4 October 1972 – 11 June 2018), put to rest at the Lusaka’s Leopards Memorial Park on Saturday 16th June 2018.
NALELI Women’s Initiative Executive Director, Namakau Siyanga described the death of Ms. Kalima-Phiri’s at Maina Soko Military Hospital, on Monday June 11th 2018, as a blow to the nation as Zambia lost a dedicated champion of human rights.
Ms. Siyanga who is Livingstone Chamber of Commerce (LCC) President in the Southern Province recalled Ms. Kalima’s commitment to passing a Bill in Parliament banning Early Child Marriage, viewed as a step in a right direction.
According to the late Ms. Kalima-Phiri, both as former Patriotic Front (PF), Kasenegwa Member of Parliament (MP), and tenure as Gender Minister vowed to revise the Marriage Act that would ultimately describe a child as any person under the age of 21.
“As Naleli Women’s Initiative, we mourn with the rest of the country the death of Ms. Kalima-Phiri. She dedicated her life to supporting the vulnerable in society, protecting the rights of young girls across Zambia’s 10 provinces, namely; Central, Copperbelt, Eastern, Luapula, Lusaka, Muchinga, Northern, North-Western, Southern and Western. In that vein, Naleli Women’s Initiative group would love to extend a hand as a lobby group towards championing that cause and ensure that young girls are protected, through guaranteed access to quality education and holistic income liberation, as primary goal of the organisation in her memory,” Ms. Siyanga said.
She thanked President Lungu for giving Ms. Kalima-Phiri, an opportunity to serve in his people-centered Cabinet.
“We commend the Republican President Edgar Chagwa Lungu for having appointed the late Victoria Kalima-Phiri as Gender Minister, which was a plus in Zambia’s profile in fulfilling the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Protocol, a Gender Inclusiveness and Consideration in Position of Leadership,” she stated.
Ms. Siyanga said Ms. Kalima-Phiri was an interactive and approachable person who often spared time to listen to people’s concerns.
“Her (Ms. Kalima-Phiri ‘s) respect to champion general rights was inspirational. She fought for Journalists whose rights were infringement by having their camera confiscated. She was able to intervention and corrected the situation,” recollected a remorseful Ms. Siyanga.
Formerly, a business administrator, Ms. Kalima-Phiri studied for an MBA and diplomas in agricultural business management and international relations, and Movement for Multi-Party Democracy candidate for the Kasenengwa constituency for the 2011 general elections, an subsequently elected to the National Assembly with 17,500.
Her victory was overturned in the Supreme Court in December 2013, chaired by then Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda, for giving out bicycles and chitenge material to voters and claimed that the Patriotic Front would kill old people and stop distribution of antiretroviral drugs.
After being re-elected, she joined the Committee on Government Assurances and the Committee on Legal Affairs, Human Rights, National Guidance, Gender Matters and Governance.
During the 2015 Presidential Elections, after the demise of 5th Republican President, the late Michael Charles Chilufya Sata, the late Ms. Kalima-Phiri campaigned for United Party for National Development (UPND) leader, Hakainde Hichilema.
Prior to the 2016 general elections Kalima called for an alliance between the MMD and Patriotic Front, and was re-elected to the National Assembly with a 9,259 vote.