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VP calls for fair representation of women in politics

VP Chiwenga

VICE-President Constantino Chiwenga says while government policy stipulates fair representation of women in politics, equal representation in political seats is not possible.

Addressing the National Assembly on Tuesday, Chiwenga urged women to contest against men for constituency seats.

His utterances came as women organisations yesterday expressed concern over a spike in cases of political violence in the country, saying it is scaring  them away from participating in political and governance processes.

“If you look at all the commissions we have put in place — the chairperson is a man, the deputy is a woman. If the woman is a chair, a man is the deputy. We have followed the Constitution in letter and spirit. There must be fair representation because equal representation is not possible,” Chiwenga said. 

“We have 10 provinces — how do we do it? We want the women to be fairly represented but we are also encouraging them to be active and not sit and wait for men to appoint them to various posts. We are going for elections and do you think we are going to say to, for example (Tendai) Biti (Harare East MP), stand down so we can put a woman there — no, we will say this is democracy, let us go for elections so everyone can get a position fairly,” the VP said.

Women organisations are concerned with escalating political violence perpetrated against females.

On Monday, Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) Bulawayo legislator Jasmine Toffa was assaulted and left for dead by suspected Zanu PF supporters while campaigning in Insiza.

Female politicians in Matobo South were also harassed and forced to strip naked by suspected Zanu PF supporters.

In a statement, Women and Law in Southern Africa (WLSA) condemned abuse of women during electoral campaigns saying it has a negative impact on their participation in politics.

“Sections 17, 56 and 80 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe spells out gender equality between sexes and women’s rights to full participation in all spheres of society and women’s rights to equal opportunity in political, economic and social activities.

“We call upon the Zimbabwe Gender Commission, police, National Peace and Reconciliation Commission and other relevant stakeholders to urgently investigate the matter and bring the perpetrators to account,” the WLSA statement read.

CCC deputy secretary for rural mobilisation strategy and penetration, Nonhlanhla Mlotshwa, who was also attacked by suspected Zanu PF members in Matobo on Sunday, said: “When we went to our polling agent on Saturday in Matobo, I was with Kucaca Phulu (Nkulumane MP). Zanu PF members blocked the road. We tried to negotiate peace but they fired bullets in the air and assaulted us. Women were severely beaten, especially those who were wearing CCC regalia. They stripped them naked. It was traumatising,” Mlotshwa said.

The Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI) tweeted: “Political violence has become the order of the day. Surely that cannot be deemed a new order different from Mugabe's (the late former President Robert Mugabe) when elections are used as rituals for self-legitimation of an entrenched authoritarian system. This saw the abuse of women and CCC members who were badly injured. Such acts of violence and inhumanity are uncalled for.”

Academic Ibbo Mandaza tweeted:  “What I find difficult to understand is the level of denialism on the part of State actors in the face of wanton political violence, not to mention a State which since independence treats any opposition factor as an enemy. This has to stop.”

On Monday, police said they were investigating cases of political violence in the country perpetrated by both Zanu PF and CCC.

In the National Assembly yesterday, Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi was grilled over escalating political violence in the country.

“Government has zero tolerance to violence. The police spokesperson has emphasised that we must not be violent. President Emmerson Mnangagwa has made it clear as we approach elections that we must not fan violence. The police will apply the law without fear or favour,” Ziyambi said in response.

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