Women surpass 30% quota

MORE than 150 female candidates filed their nomination papers a fortnight ago to contest the March 29 elections, surpassing the 30% quota women support groups were lobbying for.

The women will be contesting the legislative and council elections.

Preliminary figures from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission showed an increase in women candidates who submitted their nomination papers from both the ruling Zanu PF and opposition parties.

Zanu PF will field 78 female candidates, while the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC faction will have 40 and the Arthur Mutambara camp will have 39 contesting the legislative and council polls.

Women’s support groups this week said the increase in the number of female candidates was a result of a campaign they launched last year to enhance the capacity of women in decision-making.

The campaign is dubbed Women Can Do It and is bankrolled by the Women’s Trust and Women in Politics Support Unit.

Women’s Trust executive director Luta Shaba told the Zimbabwe Independent this week that although the campaign was successful, it was still disappointing that women were still shying away from running for the presidency.

“The campaign has received overwhelming response from women,” said Shaba. “We have surpassed the 30% quota in the number of female candidates who will stand in the coming elections, but women are still afraid to take the challenge of contesting for the highest office.”

She was confident that more women would win in the elections given that some of them stood their ground to fight party politics for the right to represent their constituencies.

Shaba said the emergence of new female faces in the council and parliamentary race was a welcome development.

“In previous elections, the list of female candidates had become predictable, but after our campaign we have new-comers who will be contesting in this year’s elections,” Shaba added.

She said her trust would be working with women candidates from all political parties to ensure effective campaigning.
 
On Tuesday, the trust held a workshop with Zanu PF female candidates in Harare to prepare them for their campaigns.
 
The 2005 March general election saw the inaugural implementation of the women’s quota system in Zimbabwe, but most of the female candidates lost.

Both the ruling party and opposition parties fielded women in traditionally no-win areas where they had little support.

Zanu PF, which enjoys much support in the rural areas, fielded 10 women in urban constituencies, while the MDC had nine women in rural constituencies.

In the 2000 elections, 55 women stood in the polls with over 40 from the ruling party and 12 from the MDC, but only 13 made it into parliament and an additional three were appointed by the president.

The largest number of women representatives in the House since Independence was 22 in the 1995-2000 parliament.

South Africa and Mozambique were the first southern African countries to achieve the 30% target of women participants in the political process and decision-making structures.

Lucia Makamure