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Women call for proportional system

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Female parliamentarians who have been lobbying for a hybrid electoral system to increase women’s chances of getting into Parliament have made a sudden U-turn and are now calling for the proportional representation electoral system.

The proportional representation electoral system is where people vote for a particular party and not an individual and the political party then allocates seats to its candidates.

On the other hand, the hybrid electoral system means the votes are counted, the percentage total for each party is then divided and seats allocated according to resulting percentages.

The Women’s Parliamentary Caucus, in conjunction with civic organisations, this week vowed to speak with one voice to ensure the new constitution guaranteed a 50/50 gender representation system.

Civic groups supporting the caucus include Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe, Women in Politics Support Unit and the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN).

The consensus was reached at a workshop in Harare this week when, a ZESN official, Barbara Nyagaira unpacked the 50/50 principle, saying the first-past-the-post electoral system currently used in Zimbabwe made it difficult for women to get Parliamentary seats.

The first-past-the-post electoral system is where the candidate with the most votes gets elected. “The first-past-the-post system favours men because they have the resources to campaign, and in countries using proportional representation like South Africa, a lot of women have made it to Parliament,” said Nyagaira.

“The hybrid electoral system allows for many voices in Parliament but cannot be applied in both Houses. But the proportional representation system is the best as people vote for a particular political party, not a person, and if political parties support 50/50 gender representation, it is easier for women to then get into Parliament using the proportional representation system,” she said.

The Women’s Parliamentary Caucus chaired by Goromonzi MP, Biata Nyamupinga (Zanu PF), then resolved that they would lobby their political parties and Copac to ensure the proportional representation method was implemented and enshrined in the new constitution.

However, it might not be easy for Nyamupinga to convince her party. On Tuesday Copac co-chairperson Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana told NewsDay that the female MPs were too ambitious.

“The women cannot change people’s views now because this would be rejected in the referendum. They had an opportunity to give their views and we even extended the time of bringing in submissions. The majority of submissions came from women and they cannot decide to change their views now,” said Mangwana.

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