Women’s quota extended indefinitely

7 November 2019

By Debra Matabvu

Government plans to give an indefinite extension to the women’s quota clause in Parliament in order to promote the political empowerment of women. Cabinet recently approved principles to extend Clause 124 of the Constitution which was set to expire at the end of the current parliamentary term in 2023.The Minister for Legal, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, Hon Ziyambi, said the principles had been approved and are now awaiting gazetting and to be taken to Parliament for debate. “The principles have already been approved by Cabinet and the Attorney-General,” he said. “We are now waiting gazetting so that they can be debated in Parliament.”According to a memorandum detailing the principles, women have not been politically empowered, hence the need to extend the quota.  “The provision was enacted in order to increase women participation in Parliament. It was hoped that after the lapse of 10 years, women would have been empowered through their participation in Parliament and also be in a position to compete with men,” read part of the memorandum. “However, as it stands, women have not been politically empowered as expected, hence the need to extend this provision indefinitely until such a time when women are fully empowered.”Section 124 of the Constitution provides for the equal representation of women in Parliament through the appointment of 60 non-constituency legislators. Women parliamentarians hailed the move by Cabinet and said it would ensure that equality in terms of representation in politics. The Minister of State for Mashonaland Central Province, Hon Monica Mavhunga, said women were not yet empowered to contest with their male counterparts in constituency due to lack of financial resources.“The quota system will ensure that women are represented in Parliament because at the moment women are unable to contest for Parliament seats because we do not have enough (financial) resources to compete with them,” she said. “At the moment the electorate votes for those with resources and as women we do not have enough resources.”Hon Good Kwaramba (Zanu-PF Proportional Representation) said the women‘s quota was a powerful gender empowerment tool. “Sadc had initially set 2015 as the deadline for the 50-50 gender representation, but in 2019, we have not achieved that feat as a country. So it is good to have the quota system extended,” she said. “On the other hand, various other factors like change of negative attitudes of men towards women would also need to be corrected as well as breaking of patriarchy myths.”

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