Friday, 27 September 2013

Of Women, Power and Politics

Although I am not into politics and do not intend to get involved I thought I would comment on Zimbabwe’s new cabinet. I was disappointed by the government of Zimbabwe only having 3 women in the new cabinet. In many developing countries women carry the burden of care for the family ,discrimination, abuse, rape, violence like Female Genital Mutilation and it’s a miracle that they even get the chance to get educated.

Women make up 34% of the 8th Parliament of Zimbabwe, with 32% in the National Assembly and 48% of Senate.

Although the quota for women in parliament led to the dramatic increase from 19% in 2008 to 34%, the number of women who actually won fell from 34 to 26.

The cabinet appointments were the country’s last opportunity to bolster the numbers of women in power. Moreover, because these appointments are chosen and not elected, this presented a chance for political leaders to prove their commitment to gender equality.

Women’s representation in the new cabinet stands at 11.5%, down from 16% in the 2008 cabinet.

Mugabe appointed only three women ministers out of 26.

Dr Olivia Muchena is the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education; Oppah Muchinguri is Minister of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development and Sithembiso Nyoni remains Minister of Small and Medium Enterprises. Mugabe also appointed 24 deputy ministers of which only four are women.

Outside of cabinet, Flora Bhuka is now one of the Ministers of State for Presidential Affairs. Two female Ministers of State will lead Harare and Bulawayo provinces, while eight men will lead the rest of the country.

The underrepresentation of women in parliament, and now in cabinet means Zimbabwe has failed to meet the SADC Gender Protocol target of at least 50% representation of women in all areas of political decision by 2015.

This failure also mocks the new Zimbabwe Constitution, which specifically aims to promote gender balance.

The Constitution clearly stipulates, "1(a) The State must promote the full participation of women in all spheres of Zimbabwean society on the basis of equality with men; (b) the State must take all measures, including legislative measures, needed to ensure that (i) both genders are equally represented in all institutions and agencies of government at every level; and (ii)women constitute at least half the membership of all Commissions and other elective and appointed governmental bodies established by or under this Constitution or any Act of Parliament.”

Asked why there are so few women in cabinet, Mugabe explained that there are less educated women in Zimbabwe.

“Education is for all now… It is no longer necessary for us to have affirmative action, it is now free for all.  Let women contest alongside men without any preferential treatment," Mugabe said.

He also added that women should perform better in elections if they want to make it to cabinet.

On the contrary, affirmative action along with political will is imperative for redress. Had Zimbabwe not fast tracked the land resettlement scheme, the country would still be sitting with unequal land ownership. The same is true for redressing women issues.

As long as our leaders do not strive to implement all the policies in place to address imbalances, then the oppression of the majority, those that actually put them in political office, will continue and this sadly will affect women more.

It is fact that there are more women voters than men. Denying women equal and full participation in decision-making is unmistakably undemocratic.

I call on the women leaders to reconfigure their role in the political sphere and encourage more women to stand for political office. They should identify and support those women who have the potential to lead. Men look out for each other and so should women.

On all election campaigns, women were on the forefront so why should they not be in the cabinet?

I urge all women to claim their space in politics and use their initiative and agency, because our empowerment cannot be left to male politicians. Politics needs Women.

It is high time women ensure that they shape the agenda and position themselves at the heart of our struggle for equality and liberation struggle.

Finally, those SADC countries set to hold elections before 2015, must take up the 50/50 campaign wholeheartedly, following in the footsteps of countries like Seychelles with 44% women in parliament, South Africa with 41% in Cabinet and Lesotho with 49% women in local government.


Women of the world, lets refuse to be branded sexually, socially, mentally and physically. Let’s be what we want and we can do it.

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