Parly gender policy under scrutiny

HARARE - Political parties are torn between achieving gender equity and securing majority seats in the next harmonised election, female politicians have said.

Roselyn Nkomo, Tsholotsho North candidate and wife to Water Resources minister Sipepa Nkomo and said the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC had progressed well towards achieving both goals.

“In our party we are still going with the zebra approach where we start with a woman then a man. We are making sure we comply with the provisions of 50-50 representation and right now the participation of women in our party is increasing,” said Nkomo, who is pitted against Jonathan Moyo of Zanu PF.

Helen Mhlanga, aspiring contender for Harare Central for Welshman Ncube’s MDC, said Zimbabweans were still sceptical about women contesting for further seats outside the reserved ones.

“There is still a misunderstanding,” said Mhlanga.

“They (people) are saying why you need more representation when 60 seats have already been reserved. That is where we need Wipsu (Women in Politics Support Network) to help in educating our people."

Monica Mutsvangwa, Labour deputy minister and Zanu PF Mutare senator, said her party — though cognisant of the need for gender parity — is also focusing on harvesting enough seats to guarantee Zanu PF’s extended tenure in government.

“We debated the issue of 60 seats during Copac,” she said. “I have heard others say a man cannot contest a seat held by a woman outside those reserved.

“What if it is the man who is popular in that area? At the end it is also about the party which wins more seats while achieving equal representation is a process and gradual,” said Mutsvangwa.

Although  government has scaled up efforts towards achieving 50-50 gender representation by 2015, by reserving 60 seats for women in Parliament and Cabinet, parties are worried about their  chances of securing resounding victories in the polls and fulfilling gender commitments.

Many male aspiring candidates who stood against female politicians in MDC primaries were told to put their aspirations on hold and support the women empowerment agenda.In addition to the 60 reserved seats — women need 75 more women candidates to win, if a balance is to be achieved in the 210 seats Parliament, the new constitution states.

In the recent past, Zimbabwe has witnessed an increased collaboration among female politicians from both MDC and Zanu PF to boost women’s numbers in Parliament and Cabinet, irrespective of political affiliation — under a campaign dubbed “Vote for a woman campaign”.

Women constitute 52 percent of Zimbabwe’s population but currently make a mere 18 percent representation in Parliament.

In a country heavily polarised by successive violent elections, politicians from Zanu PF and the MDC usually describe themselves as oil and water but female politicians gender parity can neutralise the hostility, reduce poverty and corruption, analyst say. - Wendy Muperi

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.