Movement for Democratic Change Alliance presidential candidate, Nelson Chamisa seems to be making attempts to appeal to the female voter.
Chamisa share his national health care plans, Chamisa-Care, as part of his plans in the event that he becomes president of the country in the poll of 30 July 2018.
His plan, adopted from former American president, Barak Obama’s Obama-Care, aims at ensuring affordable healthcare to the people of Zimbabwe. Among the list of priorities in the plan, is the provision of free maternal care in all public hospitals.
Speaking at Rudhaka Stadium in Marondera on 8 July 2018, Chamisa described maternal health as a national responsibility. He noted that by childbearing, women play a national duty and that no costs should be incurred during the process of delivering a Zimbabwean child.
Currently most maternity units in public hospitals are struggling to provide basic services. In some instances hospitals have had to turn away expecting mothers due to the unavailability of water and/or electricity at their stations. While others require that women to bring their own sanitary wear, cord clippers, candles and water. The fact that most of these are not sterilized, poses a health hazard to both the mother and the child.
Speaking at the same event councilor-hopeful Maideyi Muhamad said that Marondera lacks adequate maternity facilities with only the Marondera General Hospital and Nyameni Clinic having maternity facilities. Under Chamisa-care, the plan is to build more hospitals and de-congest public institutions that are currently facing challenges in catering for Zimbabweans seeking healthcare services.
Chamisa said if the women in Mashonaland East trusted him with their vote, he would be in a position to ensure that better health services are available.
While women in the Mashonaland East province may reflect on Chamisa’s promises, it is unfortunate that the MDC Alliance has failed to demonstrate its commitment to ensuring that women’s interests are catered for. The party did not field a female candidate for the parliamentary seats in the 23 constituencies in Mashonaland East. This is an undesirable position for a party that seeks to demonstrate democratic values and principles.
While one can argue that the party met its 50-50 quota in the fielding of local government representative in the province, representation of women in the august house would have been ideal given their role in policy and law making, their oversight role over government implementation of policies, actions, and spending. At the end of the day, it would seem women are sidelined in the party for this election.
Chamisa’s attempt to woo the women’s vote comes after he has come under attack for sexist comments during his campaign. The party is also under attack for its poor performance in meeting its own quota system for women in the fielding of candidates for the 2018 election.
Chamisa has appeared with his wife several times now in public, a move that has silenced rumors he was having marital problems. While Chamisa’s appearances with his wife may, conveniently demonstrate that he is a ‘family’ man, it is also important to have a conversation on whether marital status should be a bargaining chip in elections in the country. This is important especially when viewed against social media utterances on women candidates being ‘unmarried’ and/or ‘childless’. Examples of these utterances have been seen in conversations on the suitability of candidates like Fadzayi Mahere and Linda Masarira for public office. There is a seemingly popular opinion that marriage should be a pre-requisite for anyone entrusted with a leadership position.
Also worth pondering is the position and role that a first lady should play as wife to the head of Zimbabwe’s government. While introducing his wife, Chamisa said that she would be first lady and nothing more, only assisting as a wife when called upon. Given the precedence set by former first lady, Grace Mugabe, many Zimbabweans may see this a welcome move. Grace Mugabe became very unpopular because of her alleged ‘interference’ in party and national issues. She has often been cited as the main hand behind the political crisis that led to the resignation of her husband, Robert Mugabe.
The question to ask is what is it that really matters for the female voter in Zimbabwe?
About the author:
Milton Sasa is a recent graduate of the Midlands State University (MSU) with a degree in Media and Society Studies degree holder from MSU. He is currently a part timer blogger. The opinion or views expressed on this platform are those of the contributing Authors or organisation . They do not necessarily reflect the views and policies or the position of Gender and Media Connect.