By Daniel Chigundu
SPEAKER of the National Assembly, Jacob Mudenda has warned that female representation in Parliament is on the verge of falling if political parties do not align their constitutions with the country’s constitution on 50-50 representation.
Women representation is currently at 35 percent (124) out of the current 350 legislators in the Zimbabwean Parliament.
The 35 percent is inclusive of the extra women seats that came through the temporal constitutional clause which will however expire for the 2023 general elections.
Addressing Members of Parliament (MPs) during a capacity building workshop on sustainable development goals (SDGs), Mudenda blamed legislators for turning a blind eye on gender parity issue at party level.
“The constitution says 50-50 and all of you here belong to political parties but you have not addressed the issue of gender in our party constitutions to prescribe the saying that there shall be 50-50 candidates to be put forward as MPs.
“We are not doing that, I can speak for Zanu PF what is there is 30 percent that is what it is saying, but the party constitutions must align to the constitution on 50-50 basis. So during primary elections you ensure that there are 50-50 members of aspiring candidates, 50 females and 50 males.
“Now if that entry point is not discussed I bet you, the growth towards gender parity may not be realised. I say this because come 2023 when the constitution will not provide for the increase of numbers of MPs who are female the percent of representation by female MPs is going to fall down.
“Now obviously whosever shall be President after the election will have a difficult time in choosing ministers from a small crop of female MPs, I thought I should assist in that direction,” he said.
Zimbabwe currently has 30 Cabinet Ministers and only 8 of them are female, there are 22 deputy ministers and 6 are female.
There are 20 Parliamentary Committees and 17 of them are chaired by males while women are in charge of only 3.
The Senate however has 6 Committees, women chair 3 while males account for the other 3.
According to WIPSU director Sakhile Ngoma, political parties are unwilling to enshrine the 50-50 clause in their constitutions and that resulted in the current bloated Parliament.
Mutoko South legislator David Chapfika is of the view that 50-50 representation is difficult to implement as it will result in segregation of aspiring males.
Chapfika added that in most cases women candidates will not be popular in constituencies as opposed to male counterparts.
Women claim they cannot compete with males on an equal ground as they are usually muscled-out due to lack of resources or through violence.
However, some commentators believe the quarter system is not the best way forward as it exposes women to males, but rather they are advocating for a conducive environment that enable everyone to participate at equal length.