Women’s Reform Network petition minister over political participation

Minister of Local Government and Public Works, July Moyo

By Trevor Makonyonga

The Women’s Reform Network (WRN), a coalition of 25 women’s rights organizations and women-led Community Based Organizations with an interest in the integrity of electoral processes, has petitioned Local government minister July Moyo over the women’s quota in political representation.

The petitioners seek for the Minister to uphold the Supreme Law of the land by ensuring that Zimbabwe’s legal framework is reviewed in compliance with the provisions of the Constitution as it relates to 50/50 gender equality in elected and appointed positions.

In a statement, WRN are pushing for the government to uphold the constitutional provision of 50/50 instead of the 30% which was hinted at by Minister Moyo at a symposium recently.

WRN said, “In your capacity as Minister of Local Government and Public Works, you recently proclaimed at a Women in Local Authorities symposium that the Government of Zimbabwe shall be passing a law to create a 30% women’s proportional representation quota in all local authorities outside of the already existing 1958 wards. This proposed amendment will see additional women only 587 seats across all the country’s local authorities added on top of the current 1958 seats. As the Women’s Reform Network, we appreciate the need for interventions to increase women’s representation in elected and appointed leadership at all levels. However, we believe that any intervention must firstly be informed by the Constitutional provisions of Sections 17, 56 and 80 which expressly envisages and demand a legal framework which implements 50/50 gender equality at all levels in Zimbabwe. In addition, it is our considered view that any quotas must be allocated within the existing number of seats.”

The coalition also insisted that women empowerment in leadership must never create a burden on the taxpayers whose net effect would affect the adequacy and accessibility of quality gender responsive service delivery which would in turn adversely impact the very same women who must be empowered.

WRN petitioned that, “All members of the Executive took the Oath of Office, and swore to uphold the Constitution of Zimbabwe. The petitioners therefore implore you to reflect this spirit and letter in the work that you do. Through our petition to your office; we insist on a comprehensive review of the legal framework as it relates to attaining 50/50 gender equality in elected and appointed representation. This is important because the Constitution demands it, in Sections 17, 56 and 80, and you as the Hon. Minister of Local Government and Public Works must adhere to the Constitution and ensure your proclamations do not violate the Constitution which you swore to uphold. Honourable Minister, we plead and pray that in your capacity as the Minister of Minister of Local Government and Public Works support efforts towards gender equality this includes putting in policies that ensure gender equality in elected and appointed positions. If your office insists on implementing the proposal of 30% women’s proportional representation quota in local authorities, the 587 seats should be within the already existing 1958. The WRN stands ready to assist with models for implementing the quota within.”

If the petition yields results and is upheld, the trajectory of the 2023 elections could change as more women’s participation will be guaranteed.