Lack of confidence constrains female MPs

Female MPs elected under the proportional representation have called for increased capacity building amid revelations that most are failing to take part in parliamentary business because of lack of confidence.

Sibusisiwe Budha-Masara : Women MPs labelled BACCOSSI by male counterparts.
Sibusisiwe Budha-Masara : Women MPs labelled BACCOSSI by male counterparts.

In an exclusive interview with The Zimbabwean, MDC- T Women’s Assembly Secretary General and Matabeleland North Senator, Sibusisiwe Budha-Masara said the majority of women that entering Parliament for the first time did not have the courage to articulate their issues.

She said male MPs labelled them BACCOSSI, which means Basic Commodities Supply Side Intervention, a government initiative that included free hand-outs of food and farming implements.

“BACCOSSI refers to cheap quality products and in this instance refers to irrelevant and useless people. Name calling in Parliament is making it difficult for some of the women to speak out,” she said.

Masara said it was important for women to support each other as the issues affecting them know no political boundaries.

“It does not matter whether you are from the MDC or Zanu (PF). Women’s issues affect us all and there is need to support each other and ensure that our issues are addressed at policy level,” she said.

There are 60 national assembly and 60 senatorial seats reserved for women. The Women’s Trust reports that the number of female parliamentarians doubled to 34 percent in the July 31 elections up from the 17 percent during the 2008 elections.

Women in Politics Support Unit Programmes Officer, Patricia Muwandi, said her organisation would soon embark on a capacity building campaign across the political divide as a means of ensuring that women were better positioned to defend the gender agenda at policy level.

She urged women to support each other by way of clapping hands especially in Parliament. “Women should not give up when their male colleagues boo them down. We are always teaching women that they should champion the gender agenda with one unified voice, especially at policy level. We are crafting a comprehensive capacity building programme to birth female legislators who will take the gender agenda to unprecedented levels,” she said.

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