Women urged to seek redress

Women’s organisations have been urged to approach the constitutional court to seek redress for the lack of females appointed as cabinet ministers.

Speaking to The Zimbabwean, analysts said President Robert Mugabe’s appointment of three women out of 26 ministers reflected the party’s lack of faith that women can lead government ministries.

Political analyst, Rejoice Ngwenya, said women should fight for equal representation in cabinet as stipulated by the new constitution.

“There are a lot of women in parliament with the credentials for cabinet posts. There is no justifiable reason Mugabe would choose the old crop of ministers over competent women parliamentarians. He could have chosen from a host of intelligent women outside parliament,” he said.

Organisations that advocate for equal representation of women in politics such as Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe have been called on to prepare their case for the constitutional court.

“Equal representation of women is not a privilege but a right. It can be done using the legal route,” said Ngwenya.

A political commentator who spoke on condition of anonymity said approaching the constitutional court was a waste of time and resources considering that the ‘body is not independent’.

“It failed to address critical election related issues independently and there is no guarantee that it would address the issue impartially,” he said.

Former Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs minister, Advocate Eric Matinenga, said women should refuse to be treated as second-class citizens.

“Mugabe is of the opinion that women have no capacity to lead,” he said. “Women should assert themselves and claim their space. The few who land political positions are too scared to voice their concerns, fearing that they will be removed from their posts.”

Matinenga said the starting point was addressing society’s cultural perceptions.

“We can have nicely written documents on gender parity and the country ratifying international provisions that speak to equal representation but as long as we do not address the cultural perceptions prevalent in society, we will never achieve it,” he said.

The Women in Politics Support Unit Programmes Officer said her organisation was in the process of organising programmes to streingthen the capacity of women parliamentarians.

“It is a setback that very few women landed cabinet posts but WIPSU will continue empowering women who are interested in taking their political careers further,” she said.

Last week, Mugabe announced his 64 member cabinet and 11 women were appointed for cabinet positions as ministers and deputy ministers. Women make up nine percent of the whole cabinet, a percentage that has been described as ‘a major setback towards achieving gender equality’.

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