PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe crude attacks on Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s “simplicity” and her gender has a reduced all the gender equality progress the country has done since independence, academics said.
Mugabe on Tuesday while addressing war veterans and service chiefs at the Zanu PF party headquarters attacked Mujuru’s ambition to succeed him calling her “simplistic” and undeserving to lead Zimbabwe.
Mugabe said: “Don’t fight for positions, it’s what destroys organisations. We are experiencing this in Zanu PF for the first time and it’s a woman for that matter who is saying I want to take over.”
A Zimbabwean scholar based at Rhodes University in South Africa, Admire Mare said Mugabe’s comments were unfortunate and shows leaders only talk of gender equality for political correctness sake.
“His views that women should not aspire to be at the top simply demonstrate that the rhetoric behind women empowerment in politics is a façade meant to woo women voters, but with little backing from the people at the top that women too can run this country,” Mare said.
He added: “Women have the right to aspire for higher positions if we are to live up to the dictates of gender equality.”
In the same address, Mugabe also said women will never be equal to men because of the payment of lobola by the bridegroom.
“I tell the women, as long as the man pays lobola, you cannot have equality with him,” Mugabe said.
Mare said the attack on equality even when it is contained in our new Constitution shows how deeply patriarchy was entrenched in Zimbabwe.
“Patriarchal views seem to pervade our politics despite constitutional clauses which seem to suggest we endeavour to be seen as a progressive society, its one step forward and nine steps back for women’s empowerment,” Mare said.
He added it shows how men view that women cannot break certain glass ceilings.
“It’s now all clear that our leaders believe there is a glass ceiling which cannot be broken by women politicians, they can be vice-presidents, but should never aspire to have a seat in the cockpit,” he added.
Other academics who preferred anonymity concurred with Mare saying it was surprising that Mugabe could make such a public statement when he was at the forefront of women emancipation after independence. “I think those comments were unfortunate coming from the President of the country who has championed the cause for women empowerment through legislation and educational reforms since 1980,” the academic said.
Mujuru has fallen out of favour with Mugabe since the ascendancy of First Lady Grace on the political scene. Since then she has been accused of plotting to ouster Mugabe from power.