'Parly can legislate for 50-50 gender parity'

HARARE - National elections management body Zimbabwe Electoral Commisison (Zec)  has said the country presently has no law which recognises gender parity but Parliament can legislate for 50-50 representation to achieve the Women’s Affairs committee’s goal of having equal gender representation in the legislature.

Addressing the parliamentary portfolio committee on Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development yesterday, Zec chairperson Rita Makarau  said currently there was no plan to achieve that target.

“Currently, there is no law to that effect, meaning that all stakeholders, including Parliament and women groups, should work towards that because as an election management body, we have no mandate to dictate to political parties that they should field female candidates or dictate to them how they should structure themselves.

“Besides, we have a nomination procedure where political parties will give us their candidates and as long as those candidates meet the requirement for the nomination procedure, we have no mandate to reject their candidature because of their gender,” said Makarau.

The new Constitution, overwhelmingly approved in a 2013 referendum, provides for women’s equal representation in decision-making at all levels.

But Makarau said the Constitution reserves 60 seats for women and another requirement that parties prepare lists where the zebra listing is done, alternating males and females to select candidates for the senators in a balanced way.

“What we can only do is to demand strict adherence to those provisions and where we receive a party list that does not comply with that (zebra listing), we reject it and ask the party to make a correction before resubmitting a list that complies with the law,” said Makarau.

In recent weeks, female legislators across the political divide have been demanding that the male-dominated Parliament approve a bill giving women a stronger political voice in this patriarchal country.

If the amendments sail through, it has the potential to become one of the most empowering laws for women in Zimbabwe, female legislators argue.

Comments (2)

Measures and programs should be taken and legislated to encourage women to step up to leadership roles but the seats should not be affixed as belonging to women. That is fundamentally opposed to the principle of democracy that allows he populace to choose whatever person they want regardless of gender and other factors.

Professeor of Law - 20 July 2017

I see nothing wrong with a situation where positions of leadership are acquired by merit rather than gender. Creating a law that imposes a certain ratio of representation seems to me like a way of raising someone above their station. Let's be frank can we really build a strong society if the choice of our leaders is based on a formula that takes merit last. If leaders were to be 100% women and all deserving, no problem. Likewise the opposite shld be true. If somebody feels weaker then u r weak period. Izvo zvima laws zvenyu izvi ndizvo zvavakupa kuti titongwe nevakadzi mudzimba umu! Affirmative action shld encourage those that feel disadvantaged to work harder an earn their places.

Mhepoyenzara - 20 July 2017

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