ZIMBABWE may become the first country in the world to pass a law requiring that women hold at least 50% of posts in Parliament and other government bodies, according to the country’s new draft constitution.
REPORT BY EVERSON MUSHAVA CHIEF REPORTER
Section 4,17 of the draft constitution seen by NewsDay states that “The State must take all measures, including legislative measures, needed to ensure that both genders are equally represented in all institutions and agencies of government at every level.”
Women must “constitute at least half the membership of all commissions and other elective and appointed governmental bodies”.
The draft further says: “the State and all institutions and agencies of the government at every level must take practical measures to ensure that women have access to resources, including land, on the basis of equality with men,” and “the State must take positive measures to rectify gender discrimination and imbalances resulting from past practices and policies.”
Zimbabwe’s new draft constitution spares women from the hangman’s noose.
The draft is to be tabled before Parliament next week for approval before the country decides on it in a referendum ahead of general elections, according to Constitutional Affair minster Eric Matinenga.
President Robert Mugabe (Zanu PF), Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai (MDC-T) and MDC leader Welshman Ncube on January 17 approved the draft that took more than three years to complete due to bickering.
Currently, Zimbabwean women hold 15% of the seats in the House of Assembly.
Though at top leadership, both President Mugabe and PM Tsvangirai are deputised by women, (Joice Mujuru and Thokozani Khupe, respectively), many women were still bitter about playing second fiddle in comparison to their male counterparts in positions of authority.
Women from most African countries are now demanding proportional representation in key functions for society which used to be traditionally dominated by men.
Zimbabwe, however, introduced the affirmative action in the late 1990s to increase the number of women graduating from tertiary institutions as a first step and to date, many are occupying top positions in various sectors. Zimbabwe’s biggest challenge however, is how to synergise the constitution with electoral laws that would promote equal gender representation in Parliament.
The draft constitution has reserved 60 seats for women, according to proportional representation from political parties.