By Fiona Mpofu
Women have expressed concern over media comments by Jerry Masiya, a war veteran, suggesting that war veterans should be awarded part of the quota given to women in the parliament of Zimbabwe.
Masiya told the media that there was a need for the government to award war veterans a portion of the women's quota in parliament so as to increase the liberation fighters' chances of representation in the August house.
“Although I am not saying it is bad to have women in parliament through proportional representation, I feel as war veterans we should also be granted that quota,” Masiya was quoted in one online publication.
However, some women have described the calls by the war-veterans as misplaced and unacceptable, stating that the quota was already not enough to meet the balanced measures of gender representation in the house.
Buhlebenkosi Nkomo, a student at NUST argued that awarding war-veterans a fraction of women’s seats in parliament would result in women losing the little power they now held in the house.
Masiya’s calls come after House Speaker Jacob Mudenda committed to ensuring the extension of the women’s quota beyond 2023, which is the constitutionally recognised expiry date of the current provision.
“As your Speaker, I shall ensure that the constitutional provision for women’s proportional representation rolls over beyond 2023.”
Adv Mudenda was quoted as saying in the state run Herald newspaper in May.
“Furthermore, I shall endeavour to persuade political parties to provide for gender parity in their party constitutions so as to comply with the national Constitution’s demand for gender parity,” he added.
Responding to comments that many women who had been appointed to Parliament through the proportional representation system had so far failed to adequately articulate important women’s issues in Parliament, Mrs Faith Ndlovu, a media activist and women’s rights advocate said,
“There is need to capacitate our fellow women so that they make a positive contribution.” she said.
Responding to questions from Amakhosikazi media, Mrs Chelesile Nyathi, the Director of the South Western Region Gender Network (SWRGN) said the problem was that some women have been silent in parliament.
She added, “The quota system doesn’t empower women to run as candidates but rather political parties have since referred all women from contesting to only participating within 60 reserved seats. Women in the quota system are just an addition to the existing seats.”
War-veterans have increasingly been making demands to be considered in the house of parliament, be allowed to freely import cars and have their children considered first for employment opportunities.