THE women’s movement should be exhilarated by the naming of a woman as the Presidential running mate.
President Edgar Lungu has adopted Professor Nkandu Luo as his running mate for the August general elections.
And the Electoral Commission of Zambia has accepted President Lungu’s nomination as a presidential candidate under the Patriotic Front (PF).
Unveiling his running mate at Mulungushi International Conference Centre in Lusaka yesterday morning, President Lungu described Professor Luo as a solid, intelligent and politically strong person.
“I know not all of you will accept her but diversity of opinion is what makes the world go round,” President Lungu said.
The foremer Munali Member of Parliament has been a vocal personality for over three decades speaking out on HIV, commercial sex work, gender activism, higher education and national development.
Professor Nkandu Phoebe Luo was born 21 December 1951, is a Zambian scientist with a PhD in Microbiology and politician who is currently Minister of Livestock and Fisheries.
She is a microbiologist who previously served as head of Pathology and Microbiology at the University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka and has carried out extensive research into HIV/AIDS. Luo worked at Saint Mary’s Hospital in London.
She became a professor in microbiology and immunology at the University of Zambia in 1993 and worked as Head of Pathology and Microbiology at the University Teaching Hospital, Lusaka, Zambia. She has published numerous journal articles on HIV/AIDS.
She was elected to parliament representing the Movement for Multi-Party Democracy in the Mandevu constituency in 1996. She served as Deputy Minister of Health from 1997 to 1999 and Health Minister in 1999, however she clashed with both donors and health workers and was moved from the post in November 1999 and replaced by David Mpamba.
She was Minister of Transport and Communications from 1999 to 2001 before losing her seat in the 2001 election.
Professor Luo created a network of thirty national AIDS advocacy groups and founded non-profit organisation Tasintha, which seeks to free Zambia from commercial sex-work and HIV/AIDS. She established the National AIDS Control program, the National Blood Transfusion Service and the Prevention of Mother to Child transmission of HIV/AIDS program.
She was was elected as the Patriotic Front representative for Munali constituency in 2011.
She was appointed as Minister of Local Government and Housing by Michael Sata, serving from 2011 to 2014, and then became Minister of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs from 2014 to 2015. She was sworn in as Minister of Gender by President Edgar Lungu in February 2015.
In March 2016, Luo was adopted as President of the Women Parliamentary caucus at the 134th Inter Parliamentary Union conference in Lusaka. In September 2016, she became Zambia’s Higher Education Minister.
Professor Nkandu Luo was appointed as the Minister of fisheries and livestock in 2019.
“She is a solid politician. She is very intelligent and forthright and this is why some people don’t like her but as for me it’s Lungu na Luo (Lungu with Luo),” President Lungu said.
“So it’s good luck to all and lets campaign peacefully. We have taken oath to respect the electoral code of conduct and we will ensure there is law and order.
“Remember, I am still Head of State and Boma ni Boma and still in charge.”
The womens movement in the name of Women for Change and the Zambia National Women’s Lobby have been advocating for 50/50 representation in the adotion of candidates for this year’s general elections.
President Lungu has set the bar by maintaining a woman as his running mate.
This week will see more nominations filed and it is only hoped that more women candidates will be named.