Men take House of Assembly: ZEC

While senior female politicians fought it out for senatorial seats, the men secured a greater presence in the House of Assembly, according to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Chairperson, Justice Rita Makarau.

Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Chairperson, Justice Rita Makarau
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Chairperson, Justice Rita Makarau

Speaking at a women’s conference organised by Women in Politics Support Unit and Self Help Development Foundation, Makarau said the introduction of the zebra system for senatorial seats created a platform for manipulation by male politicians.

WIPSU reported that the number of elected women candidates in the election dropped although the percentage of women in parliament increased from 19 to 34 percent.

The figures

In 2008, 14 percent of females parliamentarians were elected for the national house of assembly seats and the number rose to 32 percent in the 2013 polls.

However, this number translates to 12 percent, taking into account the quota system in the new constitution, reserving 60 seats for women. During the 2008 elections, 919 female candidates contested for political posts at different levels and 105 female contestants ran for the national house of assembly seats, compared to 575 males.

Adverse effects

In the recent polls, only 90 women contested for the national house of assembly seats compared to 603 male contestants.

“Women politicians may have resisted less when their counterparts were relegated to the party lists for the senate rather than being given space to contest for the national assembly seats,” said Makarau.

She hinted that the increase of women representatives could have discouraged effective female politicians from participating as constituent candidates.

“The legislated additional party list for women may also have had adverse effects on the participation of women. Political parties could have seen that the additional list was adequate and there was no need to field female candidates as constituent candidates,” she said.

The outgoing Deputy Minister in the women’s ministry, Jessie Majome, said women participate effectively in politics considering that the new constitution is gender sensitive.

Support women

“The risk is that women are going to concentrate on the quota system and contest against each other for the reserved seats. The focus should be on how to contest all the other seats because the additional 60 seats are already ours,” said Majome.

ZEC Vice Chairperson, Joyce Kazembe, urged women’s organisations and government ministries to capacitate aspiring female politicians.

“Economic issues are not the only barrier to effective participation of women in politics. Organisations should ensure women are supported with the knowledge and expertise on how they can be effective candidates,” said Kazembe.

“Take part in community activities and interact with the electorate at a grassroots level because you cannot just wake up asking for the people to vote for you. It is a process,” she said.

The conference, which drew participants from the 10 provinces, government departments and several women’s organisations, was held under the theme: “Broadening Women’s Participation, Time for Women- Time for Africa”.

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