Politburo row over women’s quota

ZANU PF’s Women’s League is facing stiff resistance from politburo hardliners opposed to its proposal to reserve seats for aspiring female legislators, saying the move compromised the calibre of candidates who can deliver victory against the MDC-T.

Report by Brian Chitemba

The fight over the women’s proposal erupted in last week’s politburo meeting where Zanu PF’s supreme body was supposed to finalise the primary election guidelines to pave way for internal polls.

A fresh clash exploded among the bigwigs who vociferously opposed Women’s League secretary Oppah Muchinguri’s plan to ring-fence aspiring female legislators.

Muchinguri, politburo sources said, tabled the proposal arguing it was a positive way towards emancipation of female politicians. The new constitution provides for the appointment of 60 non-constituency female MPs as part of efforts to empower women.

“The Muchinguri proposal that women should not be challenged by men is ridiculous because the party must field competitive candidates since we have to win the forthcoming elections at all cost,” said a politburo member. “This is a crucial election and we cannot afford to have weak candidates just to please women.”

The proposal met stiff resistance from party heavyweights who further argued Muchinguri was seeking to indirectly impose candidates ahead of the high-stakes polls expected later this year.

Dogged by serious infighting, Zanu PF has postponed finalisation of for primaries several times as the party battles to quell internal strife which has seen a team led by national chairperson, Simon Khaya Moyo, controversially restructuring provincial executives.

The debate over a quota system for women was inconclusive, forcing the politburo to defer the discussion on primary polls to the next meeting. The politburo was supposed to meet this week but the meeting was postponed because President Robert Mugabe went to Japan for the fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development.

Politburo insiders say the proposed rules and guidelines for primaries were delayed because they were unfavourable to the factional designs of sitting bigwigs in parliament as some face ouster by ambitious “young Turks” pushing to replace them.

In 2008 Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo, former Education minister Aeneas Chigwedere, ex-deputy Finance minister David Chapfika and former soldier Claudius Makova, among other bigwigs, lost in primaries.

Some were saved after the politburo intervened on their behalf.
The failure by Zanu PF to conclude the primary elections rules suggests the party is not ready for early elections it has been demanding for more than two years.



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