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Zimbabwe 2018 elections marginalised women

08 Aug 2018 at 07:57hrs | Views
The recent general elections in Zimbabwe provide a classic case study for marginalisation of women in key political process in any given country. The elections, in which women were largely condemned to the periphery in both opposition parties and the ruling Zanu PF party, may provide all the ingredients necessary for serious introspection or study on how and why women still lag behind despite so many efforts over the years meant at enhancing them and place them on an equal footing with men.

For a fact, the 50-50 mantra has only proved to be a fanciful chorus which has no meaning to Zimbabweans, both those controlling levers of power and the generality of the population. This comes at a time when Zimbabwe prides itself with the best policies that advances the participation and recognition of women into key positions of power. As background, it is argued that the exclusion of women from key positions in politics and power weakens the development of democratic principles. Women participation in politics can help to deepen democracy and facilitate efficiency, sustained growth and promote pro-poor service delivery among others.

There are plenty of international conventions that are backed by domestic policies that are aimed at improving the representation of women in key positions by that hasn't changed anything. They include Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW); and United Nations Security Council Resolution 1889, and 1820 of 2008, the Beijing Declaration on the Platform for Action (1995), the Convention on Civil and Political Rights (CCPR), Southern African Development Community (SADC) Gender and Development Declaration which stipulates that countries must ensure that at least 30% women in political decision - making by 2005, and 50% by 2015 among others.

Firstly, all political parties performed dismally with regards to fielding female candidates. Across the political parties, only a paltry of about 17% of all the contestable seats were women and the majority of them being at local authority level. In the National Assembly 47 political candidates fielded candidates; 20 of these did not field any women candidates at all and two parties fielded only one woman each. A total of 84 out of 210 Constituencies had all-male contestants while not a single constituency had female only contestants. Previously, parties would reserve some constituencies for female candidates, but in this election, the practice was abandoned without anyone caring to give an explanation.

For the first time in the history of Zimbabwe, the country had 23 presidential candidates of which four were women. They included Mujuru Joice of People's Rainbow Coalition, Khupe Thokozani of MDC-T, Mariyacha Violet of United Democratic Movement and Dzapasi Melbah of #1980 Freedom Movement Zimbabwe. None of them was able to make a significant impact.

The bid by these four presidential candidates was been met with a sexist backlash and mudslinging, a reminder of the underlying patriarchal norms that define Zimbabwe's political terrain.

Several key issues emerged during the election and all were meant to malign and denigrate female politicians. In this article I will only raise two.

The media

During elections time, the media plays an important role in monitoring and documenting all the processes for onward reference even after the elections. It is important to probe to what extend did the media help them in their campaigns, what form of challenges did the female candidates encountered with the media and top quip that in their opinion, if there an unfair advantage towards men.

What came out of the media generally is the sad scenario where women were not prioritised at all in the news making processes. They were always vilified and many sexist remarks were made against them which did nothing to help their cause. A classic example is the labelling of female politicians as whores, husband snatchers and witches while at the same time, their male counterparts especially the Presidential elect Emmerson Mnangagwa was given acres of space to campaign freely while on other candidates it was either total blackout or vilification. Wining Harare West legislator was accused in the media of having an affair with leader of the MDC Alliance Nelson Chamisa, Mujuru, despite the fact that she was the country's Junior vice president for almost 10 years, was always projected as an incompetent person especially in the mainstream media. Khupe became a butt of jokes with everything that she does being changed to show a picture of a monster. It was surprising that even the mainstream media competed with social media in vilifying Khupe. The majority of women were presented as time wasters, greed people who just wanted to abuse the political space to make money out of politics.

Uneven playing field

From primary elections especially for Zanu PF and MDC Alliance, women aspiring candidates complained of many tactics being employed against them in order to rig and exclude them from participating from elections. Even high ranking and "strong" women were victims of such. Easy examples can be drawn from the mother in law of the Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, Helga Mubaiwa approached the court suing the party commissar Engelbert Rugeje and the winning Seke candidate, Munyaradzi Kashambe citing irregularities during the primary elections. In the MDC Alliance, the national chairlady Lynette Karenyi had her candidature removed last minute under unclear circumstances to pave way for Prosper Mutseyami, a close ally of Chamisa. Karenyi claimed she had won the primary election. Many others had their stories documented. (https://www.newsday.co.zw/2018/05/nkatazo-recounts-zanu-pf-murewa-north-primary-elections-drama/) Even when campaigning, women complained that the playing field was heavily tilted in favour of their male counterparts. Both Mujuru and Khupe only managed a paltry 1% of the votes combined. To sum it all, Mujuru admitted that the race was just for Chamisa and Mnangagwa. This must raise eyebrows to many with many follow-up questions on why female candidates are pushed to the periphery. Mujuru is now considering throwing in the towel and quit politics and this will be a sad development in Zimbabwe politics. Former president Robert Mugabe, who at one point led the vilification of Mujuru, continued with his low opinion on female contestants. He said at his press conference on the eve of elections when he said, "I can't vote for Zanu PF or for party or people who brought me to this state. I will chose from the other 22. Mai Mujuru and Mai Khupe don't offer much so I am left with Chamisa." In short, Zimbabwe is still in the old where women politicians have no space in the country's body politics.

Even when campaigning, women complained that the playing field was heavily tilted in favour of their male counterparts. Both Mujuru and Khupe only managed a paltry 1% of the votes combined. To sum it all, Mujuru admitted that the race was just for Chamisa and Mnangagwa. This must raise eyebrows to many with many follow-up questions on why female candidates are pushed to the periphery. Mujuru is now considering throwing in the towel and quit politics and this will be a sad development in Zimbabwe politics. Former president Robert Mugabe, who at one point led the vilification of Mujuru, continued with his low opinion on female contestants. He said at his press conference on the eve of elections when he said, "I can't vote for Zanu PF or for party or people who brought me to this state. I will chose from the other 22. Mai Mujuru and Mai Khupe don't offer much so I am left with Chamisa." In short, Zimbabwe is still in the old where women politicians have no space in the country's body politics.

Even when campaigning, women complained that the playing field was heavily tilted in favour of their male counterparts. Both Mujuru and Khupe only managed a paltry 1% of the votes combined. To sum it all, Mujuru admitted that the race was just for Chamisa and Mnangagwa. This must raise eyebrows to many with many follow-up questions on why female candidates are pushed to the periphery. Mujuru is now considering throwing in the towel and quit politics and this will be a sad development in Zimbabwe politics. Former president Robert Mugabe, who at one point led the vilification of Mujuru, continued with his low opinion on female contestants. He said at his press conference on the eve of elections when he said, "I can't vote for Zanu PF or for party or people who brought me to this state. I will chose from the other 22. Mai Mujuru and Mai Khupe don't offer much so I am left with Chamisa." In short, Zimbabwe is still in the old where women politicians have no space in the country's body politics.

Even when campaigning, women complained that the playing field was heavily tilted in favour of their male counterparts. Both Mujuru and Khupe only managed a paltry 1% of the votes combined. To sum it all, Mujuru admitted that the race was just for Chamisa and Mnangagwa. This must raise eyebrows to many with many follow-up questions on why female candidates are pushed to the periphery. Mujuru is now considering throwing in the towel and quit politics and this will be a sad development in Zimbabwe politics. Former president Robert Mugabe, who at one point led the vilification of Mujuru, continued with his low opinion on female contestants. He said at his press conference on the eve of elections when he said, "I can't vote for Zanu PF or for party or people who brought me to this state. I will chose from the other 22. Mai Mujuru and Mai Khupe don't offer much so I am left with Chamisa." In short, Zimbabwe is still in the old where women politicians have no space in the country's body politics.

Even when campaigning, women complained that the playing field was heavily tilted in favour of their male counterparts. Both Mujuru and Khupe only managed a paltry 1% of the votes combined. To sum it all, Mujuru admitted that the race was just for Chamisa and Mnangagwa. This must raise eyebrows to many with many follow-up questions on why female candidates are pushed to the periphery. Mujuru is now considering throwing in the towel and quit politics and this will be a sad development in Zimbabwe politics. Former president Robert Mugabe, who at one point led the vilification of Mujuru, continued with his low opinion on female contestants. He said at his press conference on the eve of elections when he said, "I can't vote for Zanu PF or for party or people who brought me to this state. I will chose from the other 22. Mai Mujuru and Mai Khupe don't offer much so I am left with Chamisa." In short, Zimbabwe is still in the old where women politicians have no space in the country's body politics.

Even when campaigning, women complained that the playing field was heavily tilted in favour of their male counterparts. Both Mujuru and Khupe only managed a paltry 1% of the votes combined. To sum it all, Mujuru admitted that the race was just for Chamisa and Mnangagwa. This must raise eyebrows to many with many follow-up questions on why female candidates are pushed to the periphery. Mujuru is now considering throwing in the towel and quit politics and this will be a sad development in Zimbabwe politics. Former president Robert Mugabe, who at one point led the vilification of Mujuru, continued with his low opinion on female contestants. He said at his press conference on the eve of elections when he said, "I can't vote for Zanu PF or for party or people who brought me to this state. I will chose from the other 22. Mai Mujuru and Mai Khupe don't offer much so I am left with Chamisa." In short, Zimbabwe is still in the old where women politicians have no space in the country's body politics.

As women, our future is in our hands so let's join others .Together we can do it-- For views and comments write to :makhoprecious@gmail.com Makho Precious, I write my personal opinions as a free spirit standing for women rights and space in society

Source - Makho-Precious Moyo
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