THE Southern African Development Community (Sadc) Parliamentary Forum, which pronounced the 2002 presidential election in Zimbabwe as not free and fair, is sending a de
legation to Zimbabwe during the weekend for a regional women’s parliamentary caucus.
The week-long meeting will focus on a range of issues that include electoral reforms, with a focus on increasing the number of women representatives in Sadc parliaments.
The delegation will on Monday meet Zanu PF and MDC chief whips, the Leader of the House Patrick Chinamasa and the Zimbabwe Women’s Parliamentary Caucus.
Parliament said the caucus would also discuss gender disparities manifested by the unequal representation of women in all Sadc legislative houses.
“This session will examine and facilitate the sharing of experiences on how women view politics based on their experiences, and facilitate a common understanding on the need for transformative politics which is equitable and will formulate empowerment strategies for women,” parliament said in a statement.
After the 2000 parliamentary election, the number of female legislators in Zimbabwe declined from 21 to 16.
The delegation is expected to exert pressure on the leadership of both the MDC and Zanu PF on gender imbalances in party structures on Tuesday when it holds meetings with both parties’ top officials.
Zanu PF and MDC Women’s League officials will also hold a meeting with the delegation.
A source in the opposition’s women’s league criticised the unequal representation of women in the two parties. “The composition in parliament leaves a lot to be desired,” the source said. “We will use the opportunity to put pressure on our leaders together with our counterparts in Zanu PF.”
The delegation will also hold meetings with NGOs dealing with women’s rights. Dr Kasuka Mutukwa, the Sadc Parliamentary Forum secretary-general, is expected to address the gathering on Thursday despite government’s increasing hostility towards his organisation.
The forum was established in 1996 in accordance with Article 9 (2) of the Sadc Treaty as an autonomous institution within the regional body to promote multiparty democracy, good governance, respect for the rule of law and human rights.