The MDC-T Provincial elections last week saw a few women compared to their male counterparts getting elected into the main body of leadership.
But the women in the party said they understood that politics was not a gender sensitive game where women were treated with care and that politics needed very strong women because it was a game of survival.
They said they understood the power dynamics and never expected that positions of power would come to them on a silver platter.
Matobo senator, Sithembile Mlotshwa said one of the issues critics were supposed to consider was that MDC-T as a party was now growing bigger and as a result everyone was jostling for a leadership post.
“There is no one in such a big party who will take cognisance of gender issues during competition for positions of power and say that women should get their positions easily,” said Mlotshwa.
“Authority is not about gender and when it comes to getting positions of power we as women know we should really fight for it. Politics is difficult to define and if one believes in a candidate, they would definitely vote for them whether that person is male or female,” she said.
Mlotshwa argued that financial clout did not necessarily influence results of elections for a candidate. She said one only needed to convince the electorate that they can deliver even if they were female.
MDC-T Deputy Chief Whip in the House of Assembly, Dorcas Sibanda, said the provincial elections in her party had been gender sensitive as she was one of the females who clinched a powerful post in Bulawayo province.
“I managed to win the powerful post of vice-chairperson of Bulawayo Province due to a lot of support from males within the party. Men in the MDC-T now understand that they have to be gender sensitive and are beginning to accept they can vote women into positions of power,” Sibanda said.
However, she said problems that women candidates in her political party were experiencing were that other women did not have confidence in female candidates.
“Those women that have confidence have always competed against men and managed to garner positions of higher authority. If men encourage us to compete for positions of power, we should not be afraid but go for it because that encouragement is assurance from them that they are going to vote for us,” she said.
But most of the MDC-T women who spoke to NewsDay refused to admit that the elections had been marred by violence, which analysts said was a deterrent to women’s participation in politics.
Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development deputy minister Jessie Majome said even though she was not confirming that the MDC-T provincial elections were marred by violence, this remained as one of the biggest threats to participation of women in politics.
“Violence and insecurity are some of the barriers that deter women from participating as candidates at elections. The use of money to buy votes is also another reason and it is critical to make elections safe for women. It is known that women have less money than men and if money is an instrument to attain power, then it is clear men have an advantage,” said Majome.
She said women continued to be under-represented in politics and other sectors, yet in the political arena women had the capacity to develop institutional changes.
The MDC-T Information and Publicity person for Harare, Obert Gutu said it was true women were under-represented in the MDC-T Provincial leadership.
He said the MDC-T believed in gender parity and observed that their Women’s Assembly was actually the engine room of the party where real politics actually took place. “As a politician, if you lose the support of women then you are history, trust me,” he said.