Political parties back female candidates

HARARE - In a first for Zimbabwe, the coming harmonised elections will see female politicians benefitting following the decision by Zanu PF and MDC not to allow male politicians to contest against them in primary elections.

Currently there are 30 women MPs in the House of Assembly and 21 Senators in the Upper house from MDC and Zanu PF out of 300 MPs in both houses.

The MDC led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has 11 women in the lower house, out of the 99 seats they won in the 2008 elections while seven are in the Senate with the rest of the seats being shared by Zanu PF and Industry and Commerce minister Welshman Ncube-led MDC.

MDC spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora confirmed the decision taken by his party’s national council, its supreme decision-making body.

“We took that decision because we want to empower women so that they can occupy powerful positions in government. We realised that the number of women in Parliament is a far cry from the 50 percent that we intend to achieve — besides the 60 seats they will get through the proportional representation in the new constitution. I understand that Zanu PF wants to follow us in taking that decision,” said Mwonzora.

Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo said his party had received the proposal from the women’s league and was going to consider it, although they already have a quarter for women.

The decision if implemented, shuts the aspirations of many aspiring male politicians who had set their eyes on toppling women parliamentarians at their respective parties’ primary elections.

Female MPs being spared include Zanu PF’s Vice President Joice Mujuru (Mt Darwin), Olivia Muchena (Mutoko South), Flora Buka(Gokwe Nembudziya), Monica Mutsvangwa (Chimanimani), Stembiso Nyoni (Nkayi North) and Biata Nyamupinga (Goromonzi West).

The MDC stable comprise of Jessie Majome (Harare West), Theresa Makone (Harare North), Paurina Mpariwa( Mufakose), Margaret Matienga (Sunningdale), Lucia Matibenga (Kuwadzana) and Nomahlanga Khumalo (Umzimgwane).

MDC led by Tsvangirai has already set April 20 as the date for primaries, while Zanu PF struggles to find common ground as factionalism rock the party.

In the Seventh Parliament, Nyamupinga heads the Women Parliamentary Caucus which is tasked with spearheading women’s issues in the August House. She is deputised by Senator Keressenia Chabuka, (MDC) with Senator Spiwe Ncube (MDC), Anastancia Ndlovu (Zanu PF), Ellina Shirichena (Zanu PF), Maina Mandava (Zanu PF) and Agnes Sibanda (MDC) as committee members.

Nyamupinga said women were grateful that they now have the opportunity to contribute to national development after years of lobbying.

“The draft constitution provides that women should get 60 seats in Parliament uncontested, and now we are going to have 50-50 percent representation in every aspect,” said Nyamupinga.

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