With Nominations almost over, MDC must think wisely about gender balance

The MDC remains Zimbabweans’ main hope for dethroning the failed Zanu PF regime.  The party’s congresses up to Provincial level in preparation for the party’s main Congress are almost done, apart from the South African Congress.

Nelson Chamisa (File: AFP)

Some candidates have scored very high, getting nominated in majority provinces. Regardless of how many nominations the nominees for various positions that were on offer got, it is time for the MDC members to seriously scrutinize the candidates on offer, their personal strengths, and most importantly, the criticality of the constituents they represent.

The first factor to look at will be the Presidency. Everything points at Chamisa being the President after Congress – I would like to congratulate him in advance. The MDC has adopted the gender balance concept, and to be seen as being serious with its own policy, it is best that gender balance policy starts from the very top, the presidency. With Chamisa almost guaranteed, it is best that the party members look at the women who will be nominated if there are at least two who are vice-presidential material. Never mind if the party ends up with three female vice-presidents, as 51.32 percent of the electorate are women. Additionally, international best practice now is We have Lilian Timveous who has amassed the highest number of votes among the women, Lynette Karenyi-Kore, Paurina Mupariwa and Tracy Mutinhiri.

Tracey Mutinhiri has been ruled out by some analysts on the basis that she is former Zanu PF, but given the fact that she was fired from Zanu PF for supporting the MDC, that on its own raises her profile as a committed woman. Not many people in Zanu PF openly support the opposition, and she chose to sacrifice all the opportunities that go with being a member of Zanu PF and stood with the struggling people of Zimbabwe when she could easily have shut her mouth about anything she admired about the opposition and save her job in Zanu PF and continued to pretend to like Zanu PF like many others do, when inside the like the MDC but cannot say it publicly. Hats off to Mai Mutinhiri for her bravery. Tracey was a key figure in the 2018 election campaign, a fact that I have heard Party President Nelson Chamisa publicly acknowledge. Those who accuse Tracy Mutinhiri of Zanu PF links must consider why Chamisa trusted her with the International Relations job in the party that she currently holds.

Another factor that works in favor of the MDC having her as a Vice-President is that she lives rurally. About 66 percent of Zimbabwean population lives rurally, and MDC should strengthen its rural support base, and having one of its top four leaders living in the rural areas is a positive for the party.

Lynette Karenyi-Kore is a great campaigner and mobiliser, as proved by the good showing of the party in Manicaland where Chamisa trounced Mnangagwa. Of cause, the Manicaland victory also had a Douglas Mwonzora had, as Douglas was on the party list for Manicaland, unlike some members of the Standing Committee who chose to go and fight it out for constituency seats in easier urban centers where they are not resident. It will be a huge blunder if the MDC members fail to reward such a hardworking woman. They should think beyond the nominations and seriously think about retaining or improving the support base in Manicaland by having one of the party’s top four leaders based there.

Paurina Mupariwa is a long-serving member who started off in leadership. A good leader, but lacks aggression. An admirable personality, but lacks the aggression of Karenyi-Kore and Mutinhiri.

The other female candidate, Lilian Timveous, liked also by some, but in my opinion, does not have the clout of the other ladies. She may have won the biggest number of nominations among the women candidates, but as I said, the party members now need to seriously think about the value that each of the candidates brings in. Tremveous must have been part of the Midlands Campaign team, and Midlands is also home to Organising Secretary Amos Chibaya, and I hear also Morgan Komichi, but Midlands performed well below expectation., and that should help the voters make a decision on the party’s top leadership.

All the men nominated for the Vice-Presidency are competent enough, but for regional balance, Welshman Ncube is probably the best pick if gender balance is to be observed.

That is not to say that those who will not make it into the Presidency should stop working for the party – I am confident they will all continue to give their best, but for me, the most effective combination in the MDC Presidency would be Chamisa as President, with Tracy Mutinhiri, Lynette Karenyi-Kore, and Welshman Ncube as Vice-Presidents.

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