BY SILAS NKALA
Women’s Academy for Leadership and Political Excellence (Walpe) has challenged the Nelson Chamisa-led MDC to ensure 50/50 gender parity in its leadership positions in the run-up to its elective congress slated for next month.
The MDC has started the nomination of candidates for the congress, with Chamisa having received three nominations so far for the president’s post.
Yesterday, Walpe said it has been closely monitoring the on-going MDC congress nominations and noted that women were being sidelined from senior leadership positions.
“So far, the proportion of women nominated to the standing committee (highest decision-making body of the party) is a cause for concern. Women represent less than 10% of all the nominations from the three provinces that have already completed the nomination process, worse, most of those women were nominated to subordinate positions,” Walpe said in a statement.
The women’s advocacy group said the MDC as a party that claims to be democratic; it was expected to do better in providing women opportunities to attain the 50/50 gender representation as mandated in Section 17, 56 and 80 of the Constitution.
“Walpe, therefore, raises a red flag and calls on the MDC to seriously introspect and create a conducive environment for women to effectively and actively occupy influential leadership positions. Having more women in leadership positions is part of a global United Nations campaign under the Sustainable Development Goals number 5,” Walpe said.
“Political parties must make concerted efforts to ensure women ascend to senior leadership positions and are allowed to freely discharge their duties. The participation of women in political leadership is important for national development. Therefore, it is critical to ensure that political party structures and internal party processes are democratic and inclusive.”
The group said it was imperative that the MDC congress results in advancing women’s representation at all levels of the party institutions and structures.
“We, therefore, challenge the party to demonstrate the democratic ethos they preach. The party cannot talk about democracy, accountability, social justice and inclusivity when women are being sidelined,” the organisation said.
Walpe threatened to petition the MDC leadership before the main congress to consider creating a conducive environment for women to effectively and actively participate in the plebiscite.
“The organisation continues to open its doors to assist in enhancing the capacity of women to effectively occupy leadership positions,” the organisation said.
Contacted for Comment, MDC spokesperson Jacob Mafume said the party welcome any input from women’s organisations and was committed to ensuring that women also take up influential positions.