MUTARE – Political parties have fielded a mere 22 female candidates out of the 194 aspiring Members of Parliament (MP) in the eastern border province.
Most interestingly, the 22 female candidates are to stand in 14 different constituencies out of the 26 seats in Manicaland Province.
The development comes at a time when the representation of female politicians in the National Assembly took a nosedive during the 2013 polls. The scenario is expected to worsen in the new government post July 30 elections as it is not a given that all the 22 female candidates will sail through.
According to documents availed by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) fielded the highest number of female candidates at five, followed by Zanu PF with four.
The Thokozani Khupe led Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T), People’s Rainbow Coalition and Zimbabwe Democratic Union, fielded two candidates each.
MDC Alliance, FreeZim Congress Party, #Freedom Movement 1980 Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Partnership for Prosperity, Coalition of Democrats all fielded one candidate each.
Two female independent candidates are also vying for the parliamentary posts, the ZEC documents indicated.
MDC-T secretary for women and aspiring MP for Dangamvura-Chikanga constituency, Lynnette Mudehwe described the situation as unfortunate.
Mudehwe attributed the low representation of female candidates to unequal access to resource towards men and women.
“Zimbabwe has had an unfortunate low turnout for female candidates who finally made through Nomination Court to stand as councillors, MPs and Presidential aspirant. We do have a lot of organisations that advocate for more women to stand and fill the political space.
“The impediment that affect women to get into politics is resources. So as long as we don’t address that, the challenges remains. You have no note that women will have to undergo a political process that require resources, and men stand out because they are in a better position resource wise,” she said.
Nationally only 14 percent of female candidates successfully filed their nominations to stand as councillors, MPs and President. This is against Article 17 of the Constitution adopted in 2013 that provides for and guarantees gender equality in all areas of decision making
Mudehwe said chances are high that not more than 5 percent of them will win in the July 30 polls.
She urged political parties to introduced the women quota system at party level in order to encourage and support more women to get into political offices.
“I encourage political parties to ensure that they create the women quota system at party level where they set aside a specific number of seats for women. Women will then have to compete among themselves at primary level before competing during national elections. This approach will ensure that we get more women in parliament and many other political spaces,” she said.