WOMEN in Politics Support Unit (WiPSU) yesterday expressed concern over the erasure of women’s candidature by political parties, describing it as indicative of a social political culture that undermines the Constitution.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
WiPSU executive director Sakhile Sifelani-Ngoma said her organisation was deeply disturbed by a small number of female candidates fielded by political parties where 20 political parties out of the 47 that fielded candidates for National Assembly seats fielded men only.
“The erasure of women’s candidatures by political parties is evidence of a socio-political culture that undermines the constitutional obligations for all citizens and institutions to uphold gender equality and gender parity,” Sifelani-Ngoma said in a statement.
“In the National Assembly, 47 political parties fielded candidates, and 20 of these did not field women candidates and two parties fielded only one woman each,” she said.
Sifelani-Ngoma said a total of 84 out of 210 constituencies will be contested by men only, adding that in local authority elections, 40 political parties fielded candidates, 12 of which fielded men only.
“Of the local authority candidates, 17% are women and 83% are men out of 6 796 candidates. We are deeply concerned that at this point it appears that the only women that will be in Parliament are the 91 that are required by law. This brazen disregard for the basic tenets of democracy is deplorable 38 years after independence,” she said.
WiPSU said while political parties have a right to conduct their various affairs and processes subject to their own rules and regulations, their rights cannot be in violation of the Constitution as well as regional and international conventions and protocols that promote gender equality an equity regarding the political participation of women on an equal basis with men.
“We note with concern the continued disregard for women candidature by political parties who clearly did not take the opportunity of the nomination court to finalise and address the constitutional discrepancies arising from their respective candidates list from ward, provincial, senate and proportional representation candidates,” WiPSU said.
“This failure to adjust candidature is a testament to weak commitments by political parties to respect the Constitution and engage with women as full and equal citizens as required in the Constitution. It is sad that political parties have no culture of constitutionalism and women may be forced to resort to the courts to force them to comply with the Constitution,” Sifelani-Ngoma said.