Change law to get young women into politics says MP

There is need to amend the constitution to ensure that young women below the age of 35 get involved in political leadership positions.

Beatrice Nyamupinga: we were short-sighted.
Beatrice Nyamupinga: we were short-sighted.

The Parliamentary Women’s Caucus chairperson, Beatrice Nyamupinga, told The Zimbabwean that unless the supreme law of the land was specific on the inclusion of young people in leadership posts, political parties would continue using their constitutions to exclude youths from being elevated to leadership posts.

“When we are crafting legislation, we should be specific on the inclusion of everybody and this includes women, youths and the disabled among other diverse groups in society,” said Nyamupinga, who is also Zanu (PF)’s legislator for Goromonzi West.

Her statements come in the wake of recent announcements by Zanu (PF) that members who have not served for 15 consecutive years will be barred from contesting central committee and women’s league positions ahead of the December elective congress.

Young turks

According to the party’s new rules, newcomers and young turks aspiring to rise within party structures ahead of the congress will not be able to unless they have served in the structures for 15 consecutive years.

“As women, we advocated for the 60 seats but we were short-sighted because the constitutional provision that speaks to the representation of women is not specific on the number of young women that should be part of those 60 seats,” she said.

“There is need for amendments on that clause to ensure that a certain percentage of the women’s quota is reserved for young women below the age of 35. Under the existing setup, young women are not given the space to lead because a gentleman’s approach is used where a youth is chosen but she will be in a constituency of older women. How do you expect that young woman to represent her constituency in a pool of elderly women when she is outnumbered?” queried Nyamupinga.

On the contribution of political parties towards promoting the participation of youths, Nyamupinga said the only workable solution was using the supreme law of the land, which was binding to everyone.

A game

“We can only look at the political parties after we have made the constitution clear on this issue,” she said. “Political parties are also bound by the constitution. As it is, parties will continue marginalising youths under the guise of their party constitutions.”

“We cannot have a political party constitution running in one direction and the mother constitution in the other direction. Politics is a game that is manipulated by the financially muscled. So let us make the constitution right and then make political parties conform to it,” added Nyamupinga.

Women’s representation in Zimbabwe’s present Parliament more than doubled from 17 per cent in 2008 to 35 per cent after last year’s elections. Zimbabwe is among 30 other countries in the world that use a special electoral quota system to increase women’s representation in parliament to at least 30 per cent.

However, young women remain marginalised in active politics for various reasons including inadequate financial capacity, violence and fear.


Wellington Zindove, the coordinator of the Youth Forum, said the issue of equal representation should be addressed at political party level before the issue could be taken up at the national level.

“The current rules that were set by Zanu (PF) are prohibitive for the participation of young women in active politics,” he said. “There are a lot of young women who have the potential to be in leadership posts but the current regulations exclude them.

"Political parties should address the challenges that prevent the active participation of young women in politics, some of which include violence at party level, before we can start addressing the issue at the national level.”

Addressing the challenges at the national level left room for the imposition of candidates and manipulation of the whole electoral process, he added.

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