Walk the talk on gender

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe’s recent Cabinet appointments which saw only three women being appointed out of 26 reveals that talk about gender equality was nothing other than bottled smoke.

Gender activists say Mugabe’s male-dominated appointments reveal that the Zanu PF leader was not sincere about proportional representation.

His failure to appoint a substantial number of women in his new administration come at a time when Zimbabwe is party to the Sadc Protocol on Gender and Development which clearly states that there should at least be 30 percent representation of women in public office.

During the campaigning period just before the July 31 elections where Zanu PF claimed a landslide victory, the revolutionary party expounded on how they were going to employ the Zebra system as a way of ensuring women’s participation.

Many expected the new administration would see competent women within the party take up Cabinet posts but that did not happen.

In defending his Cabinet appointments, the 89-year-old leader said his decisions had been based on party loyalty and one’s level of education.

The question that really begs an answer is; are there no loyal and educated women in Zanu PF?

We find it difficult to believe that there are no women within Zanu PF who have acquired degrees.

If there were no competent women in Zanu PF, could the president then not have utilised Section 104 (3) states that “ministers and deputy ministers are appointed from among senators or members of the National Assembly, but up to five, chosen for their professional skills and competence may be appointed from outside parliament?”

If the president was sincere about appointing a reasonable number of women in his Cabinet he could have utilised this provision to rope in educated women from various sectors who are not in Parliament or do not belong to any political party.

We are convinced that Zimbabwe which boasts of one of the highest literacy rates on the continent has more than a handful of competent women who could have added value to Mugabe’s new administration.

Gender activists say the continued marginalisation of women in governance is because governments are not gender neutral but mirror gender differences found in the external environment and we couldn’t agree more.

We urge leaders who will be meeting in New York this week to discuss progress on the Millennium Development Goal to stop giving lip service to gender equality and walk the talk.

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