Zimbabweans Urged to Push For Extension of Women’s Quota System
MUTARE– Various stakeholders have urged citizens to push for an extension of the parliamentary women’s quota system beyond the 2023 elections while also advocating for its adoption in senate and local government.
Speaking at a virtual elections round table meeting organized by Conscious Development and Empowerment Trust (CODET), Manicaland stakeholders said the Constitution should be amended to extend Proportional Representation.
Kelvin Kabaya, a legal practitioner, said options for Constitutional amendments included the extension of women’s quota beyond 2023 or an amendment which makes 50/50 representation into binding requirement for all elections from Parliament, Senate and local government.
“Citizens should participate in dialogues such as this one, pressure parliament and government for electoral reforms, we need to be involved as citizens in the electoral reform agenda.
“In particular, let’s amend the Electoral Act and make sure that for instance, political parties nominate 50/50 candidates for elections.
“On the quota system under Section 124 of the Constitution, the system is only there until 2023. There is need to lobby for the amendment of the Constitution to ensure that the quota system is extended. Although it has its flaws, it has led to more women participating in the national discourse.
“Women can lobby for a 50/50, that is to make it law that, of the 210 Parliamentarians, 105 should be women,” he said.
Kabaya said equal participation of women demands tougher measures against political parties violating the Code of Conduct for parties (4th Schedule of the Electoral Act) because of corruption and weak enforcement.
“Corruption is a cancer and this needs to be attended to. Let’s put pressure on parliament to enact laws that ensure equal participation of women.
“We have the legal framework which provides for equal participation of women and equal composition of women in institutions. Let’s make use of ZACC to report corruption, let’s lobby government to appoint women on merit, let’s write in newspapers and blogs,” he said.
Sofia Gwasira, MDC Alliance National Executive Committee member urged political parties to create a level field for women participation.
“So political parties must come up with gender policies and templates clearly stating how constituencies and wards will be allocated to both men and women… and allocate budgets to women’s committees so that they are able to run their visibility programmes.
“Political parties must also protect women from gender based violence, sexual harassment, bullying, belittling, subjugation and character assassinations.
“The constitution of Zimbabwe speaks to 50/50 gender equality meaning there must be equal representation of women and women, thus political parties must align their constitutions to the Zim constitution because it is the supreme law of the land,” she said.
Loreen Mukodza, Zanu PF Mutare District Coordinating Committee (DCC) Secretary for Women’s Affairs said the emergence of women councilors, parliamentarians and recently traditional leaders like Chiefs and kraal was a sign of progress.
“There should be women direct engagement in voter education workshops a free and credible election environment where there is no violence local and outside observers giving credibility a nonviolent atmosphere where there is no violence and intimidation.
“Voter education, where women learn on their rights, political systems and candidature. Education on electoral systems and have knowledge on proportional presentation education and see to it that it is well implemented in their political parties equally,” she said.
The Constitution states that political parties must allow women to communicate freely within parties, facilitate their full and equal participation in politics and ensure freedom to engage in any political activities. It provides for gender equality, promoting non-discrimination based on equal opportunities in political, social and economic activities.