ZIMBABWE is yet to implement a Southern African Development Community (Sadc) declaration that member states should have at least 30% women representatives in decision-making positions at al
l levels, including parliament, by 2005.
Although Zimbabwe is a signatory to the 1997 Sadc Declaration on Gender and Development declaration, it has not yet implemented the agreement. In fact, female representation in parliament has drastically dropped since then.
After the 1995 general election, only 21 female Members of Parliament (MPs) found their way into parliament. The number decreased to 16 following the 2000 parliamentary poll, which translates to a mere 10% female representatives in the House of Assembly.
Of the 16 MPs, 13 were elected out of a possible 55 who contested the 2000 election in the 120 constituencies, while three were non-constituency MPs.
Zanu PF fielded nine of its potential 20 female candidates in Harare in the 2000 general election, while the opposition MDC fielded 12, in which seven won in urban areas.
The April election in South Africa saw 45% of the parliamentary seats being taken up by women. The African Union adopted a 50% requirement.
Other Sadc countries that have managed to comply with the declaration are Mauritius and Mozambique. The Namibian government came under intense pressure in March 2002 from women who marched to government offices in Windhoek and officially handed over the much publicised “50/50” Bill demanding equal representation between men and women in all decision-making positions.
A Sadc Parliamentary Forum delegation was in Zimbabwe for a week long regional women’s parliamentary caucus. MDC MP Thokozani Khupe, who is also the deputy chairperson of the women’s parliamentary caucus, said the Sadc delegation attacked the country’s political parties for what it termed “lack of political will” to elevate women in politics.
“According to the delegation, what we need is a law that guarantees equal representation in all influential positions, right up to the presidency,” she said.
“In this country we have political leaders who lack the political will to include a significant number of women in influential positions, and it makes us the centre of unwanted international attention.”