Women ministers: Mugabe out of line

By appointing only three women ministers, President Robert Mugabe showed insensitivity to 52 percent of the population and is out of line with modern political trends, say analysts.

Ibbo Mandaza said it was a pity that the executive arm of government had already breached the new Constitution, which calls for equality between women and men. “The Zanu (PF) executive arm of government appended its signature in the new constitution only to violate it a few months later,” he said. The new constitution is specific on gender equality, calling for equal representation of women in all sectors and arms of government.

Zimbabwe has ratified the Southern African Development Community Protocol on Gender and Development, whose key priority is to ensure equal representation of women in political and decision making positions.

“Using the gender lenses, this cabinet is a regression of gains made over the years. It has only four female Ministers out of 29, two provincial Ministers out of 10 and five deputy Ministers out of 25. This means the total number of women in this executive is 11 out of 65 – or only 17 percent,” said Itai Zimunya.

“If one looks at the type of Ministries in which these women are deployed, apart from the Vice President, it is fair to conclude that women have been located on the periphery as Zanu (PF) goes for broke in terms of power retention.”

Kurauone Chihwayi, the deputy spokesman for the MDC led by Welshman Ncube, said women voters had every reason to feel cheated and misled by Zanu (PF)’s campaign message which emphasised equality before the July 31 election.

But the new Women’s Affairs minister, Oppah Muchinguri, defended Mugabe saying he was gender sensitive. “Our constitution is specific to gender equality which has seen the enlargement of the party’s politburo and the central committee,” she said. “Within the party, for every three positions, there is a woman.”

Women’s organisations described the cabinet appointments as a major setback towards achieving gender equity, arguing that there are a lot of women parliamentarians with the relevant qualifications and capacity to be appointed in ministerial posts.

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