Women urged to prepare for 2018 elections

Both winning and losing female politicians who contested the recent elections concurred that women should start strategising for the 2018 elections if they are to increase their representation of in Parliament.

Paurina Mpariwa: The game plan is to gain and build trust.
Paurina Mpariwa: The game plan is to gain and build trust.

In separate interviews with The Zimbabwean, contestants from all the political parties that vied for office during the July 31 polls said women should take advantage of the new constitution and work towards achieving gender parity in politics.

Information compiled by Women in Politics Support Unit revealed that women now make up 34 percent of MPs, an increase from the 2008 figure of 19 percent. But most of these are in the Senate – 48 percent as compared to 32 percent of the National Assembly seats. Analysts attribute the increase to the 60 additional seats set aside for women.

This is despite revelations from WIPSU that the number of female candidates who stood for political office across the political divide dropped from 118 to 111 candidates.

Tracy Mutinhiri, Former Deputy Labour minister and ex- Zanu (PF) Marondera East legislator, who contested the polls on behalf of MDC, urged female politicians across the political divide to work for the development of their communities.

“I have a strong conviction that I did not lose this election because I have been working very hard in my constituency. I know that the electorate want candidates who deliver and I know that I won the elections despite the rigged outcome in favour of Zanu (PF),” she said.

She said women in politics should not be intimidated by their male colleagues. Mutinhiri alleged that her political rival from Zanu (PF), Jeremiah Chiwetu, tore down her campaign posters and replaced them with his own but she was not intimidated.

“There is no room for quitting once you decide you want politics. My experience has taught me that men become bullish when they are in politics,” she said.

The Zanu (PF) winning candidate for Mudzi West, Aquilinah Katsande, who according to ZEC’s disputed figures garnered 14,266 votes against the MDC-T’s Mennard Ushe with 733 and Daimurimi Mutasa from Welshman Ncube’s party with 267, said connecting with the people at grassroots level was the recipe for victory.

“Prepare your ground on time and be relevant to the people. It does not take education or money to win the hearts of the electorate,” she said, adding that women should not expect to get support in a short space of time because ‘politics is a process’.

“Women at the grassroots level should be capacitated through workshops and knowledge on the importance of active participation in politics,” she said. Losing MDC- T candidate for Zvimba North constituency, Abigail Sauti, called for more participation of young women in politics to ensure that their voices are amplified.

“Nothing for us without us! Active participation in politics will ensure that young women’s issues are championed at policy levels,” she said. Former MDC- T labour minister, Paurina Mpariwa, who was re- elected to represent Mufakose, called on women to concentrate on service delivery for the electorate to rally behind them.

“The game plan is to gain and build trust. In my constituency, I have been working for the development of the people. There are a lot of people labelled as aliens in Mufakose and I identified with their challenges and tried my level best to address them,” she said.

“Name calling against female politicians will remain, but women should remain focused and start working. 2018 may look like it is far away but it is just around the corner,” she added.

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