2023 elections: Everything went against women #ElectionsZW
By Daniel Chigundu
Women in Zimbabwe face numerous challenges in their quest for political office. The general election that is set for 23 August has not made the situation any better.
The number of females contesting for various posts ranging from Parliament to council has dropped significantly from 14.4% in 2018 to about 11%.
The candidates list gazetted by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), also indicates that there is no woman who has been successfully nominated to contest for President in 2023. There are only 11 males.
This year there are only 70 women who are contesting for the 210 National Assembly seats, compared to about 567 males. In fact, there are many constituencies that do not have female candidates contesting.
By Province, Bulawayo has the largest number (16) of women contesting for the 210 constituencies, followed by Harare which has 14.
Mashonaland West and Matabeleland North have 8 each, Midlands has 7, Mashonaland East 6.
Manicaland and Masvingo each have 4, Matabeleland South 2, while Mashonaland Central has only 1 (Shamva North).
This is despite the fact that women constitute the biggest number of voters in the country and according to the 2022 Census, they are also the majority of Zimbabwe’s population.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Political Parties Roundtable on Violence Against Women in Politics organised by the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), Nyasha Chikwinya (Zanu PF Proportional Representation candidate for Harare Province) said women with political ambition are facing opposition on every side.
‘’We have noticed that women have no courage they cannot stand the trauma they get when campaigning in terms of violence which comes physically, morally, and spiritually. Women cannot bear that.
‘’Also, because there are male counterparts, those who are married have problems with their male counterparts as most men cannot stand women who want to go into politics and into parliament.
‘’So that has taken women hundreds of years back and more so this particular coming session of Parliament in 2023, women are fewer, they are less than they were last time, and the facts are just that in my view,’’ she said.
In a separate interview, Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) Parliamentary candidate for Budiriro North Susan Matsunga condemned those that are in the habit of insulting women who want to seek office.
She said people should be allowed to freely campaign, adding that anyone who is loved by the people will be voted for into office without beating anyone.
‘’We reject the spirit of those who insult women, and we condemn those that insult others. We should campaign freely, if candidates are loved, the people will vote for them.
‘’People will choose leaders they want and give him or her the position. Beating or insulting others is of no use, people’s power will be exhibited on the 23rd of August,’’ she said.
Addressing the workshop delegates, Zimbabwe Gender Commission chief executive officer Virginia Muwanigwa concurred that the political terrain was not even for women.
She said the approach that is being used is defective, as it presupposes that there is equality in the country.
‘’We are making a mistake as a society we are using equality as an approach. Using equality as an approach assumes that we are all on the same line, we are all the same.
‘’We use a belief that says we are equal, but as political parties you already know that we are not equal. So, if we say we are equal we are making a mistake because we know we are not because there are others who are still behind.
‘’But when we talk, we say why do women want favours, why do they want assistance, they should compete equally with fellow politicians.
‘’We must come up with measures whether legal or administrative whatever we do, to ensure the situation that is there is a fair situation that is why we come to equity. Equity basically means fairness,’’ she said.
Writing on her Twitter handle, United Zimbabwe Alliance (UZA) leader Elisabeth Valerio indicated that democracy should be inclusive.
She added that without equality, the 2023 general election will be a sham.
‘’it’s the 21st century and women in Zimbabwe are being denied the opportunity to participate and lead in the highest office of the land.
‘’This election will be a sham if Zimbabweans are deprived of equality, justice and the right to participate freely in our country’s elections.
‘’Democracy should be inclusive and should be for everyone- not just a privileged few,’’ she said.
Valerio is one of the two (the other one is Linda Masarira) aspiring female Presidential candidates that were denied the opportunity to file their nomination papers due to challenges with currency and bank issues.
The two are currently challenging their nomination status in Court and it is not yet clear if they will be successful.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is opposing Linda Masarira’s challenge, while it is not yet clear if they are opposing Valerio, whose proof of payment was rejected.
Money blocking women’s participation in elections
Meanwhile, Nyasha Chikwinya has also blamed the poor participation of women in the 2023 general elections to lack of money and other resources.
She said the electorate these days is very cunning as it demands tangible things and not just lip service and sweet promises.
‘’Women are not adequately prepared for this election, because money is now playing a big role, those that don’t have money, those that cannot promise people things that are tangible they are left out. ‘’People are no longer used to just getting lip service, but they want tangible things, and most women are unable to do that this is what we learnt from this workshop and it was very important to learn that. These and other things we learnt are very beneficial to us and to me, as someone coming from Zanu PF,’’ she said.
2023 elections: Everything went against women #ElectionsZW