Women in Tsholotsho are not happy with the continued domination of men in their local
board saying all 22 wards are under men which makes a mockery of gender equality
and gender based balance in governance.
Because of this lopsided representations, they are hoping that women volunteer and
stand as candidates in the forthcoming local government harmonised elected due in July
Section 17 of the Constitution says the State must promote full gender balance and in
particular must promote the full participation of women in all spheres of Zimbabwean
society on the basis of equality with men. Both genders should be equally represented
in all institutions and agencies of government at every level.
In addition Section 56(2), part of the Declaration of Rights, stipulates that women and
men have the right to equal treatment, including the right to equal opportunities in
political, economic, cultural and social spheres.
A resident from Tsholotsho, Sibongile Mpala, lamented the lack of female councilors in
their board saying this had resulted in most issues that affect women and girls not being
adequately addressed in council.
“Kumele kube lokulingana kwamathuba phakathi kwabobaba labomama ngoba omama
basalela emuva kakhulu, kunje ikhansili ayila ngitsho umama oyedwa, indaba zethu
ziyafikiswa ngubani ekhansilini?
“Zinengi indaba eziphathelane labomama esifisa ukuthi ngabe ziyafinyelela ekhansilini
okumele ziqhutshwe ngumuntu ongumama kodwa akwenzakali lokho”, she said.
Tsholotsho Local Board Chairperson Councillor Esau Siwela, blames the exclusion of
women on lack of a set of guidelines on how the women’s quota system in local
authorities works which is derailing its implementation.
A women’s quota is a tool used by countries and parties to increase women’s
representation in legislature. Women are largely underrepresented in parliaments and
account for a 25.8 percent average in parliaments globally.
In Zimbabwe, the women’s quota system was first introduced in 2013 and was only
meant for the Senate and National House of Assembly.
The Constitutional Amendment Bill no.2 Act of 2021 extended the women’s quota to
local government with at least 30 percent of the total members of the local council
elected on ward basis as women.
In an interview Cllr Siwela said the local authority was keen on implementing the
women’s quota system but without set guidelines they have had to shelve the
“I am not sure what criteria we are going to use because we do not have a set of
guidelines yet that we can follow in terms of the women’s quota system in council.
“We have not discussed how we will navigate the issue of the local government women’s
quota system but it’s something on the cards. We are yet to receive guidelines so that
we can implement from an informed position,” said Siwela.
He added: “The only thing we are certain of is that the list will come from parties just like
the parliamentary quota.”
The Constitution of Zimbabwe is clear on how the Proportional Representation for the
National Assembly works, however it is not clear on how the women’s quota should work
in local authorities.
Section 157 (d) of the Constitution provides for “a system of proportional representation
for the election of persons to the seats in the Senate referred to in section 120(1)(a) and
the seats reserved for women in the National Assembly referred to in section 124(1)(b).”
In addition to the 210 National Assembly seats, 60 seats are set aside for women with
six women chosen from each province through a party list.
The Constitution, has received its fair share of criticism for not setting any punishment
for non-compliance by political parties and also for providing a single entry point into the
According to ACCORD, a Pan African civil society organisation working to bring creative
solutions to the challenges posed by conflict on the continent, “The 2013 Constitution
does not provide for any sanction with regard to parties found to be in non-compliance
with the section of the Constitution requiring gender parity in candidate lists for the
Senate and provincial councils. It remains to be seen if the Election Commission of
Zimbabwe will disqualify such lists from the contest.
“The decision to implement quotas in many African countries came as a result of, albeit
grudgingly, enacting international instruments such as the Convention on the Elimination
of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) signed in 1979 at the Beijing
World Conference (1995) and United Nations Security Resolution 1325 (2000) combined
with other progressive regional and national legislation on equal opportunities between
sexes”, said ACCORD.
Cllr Siwela said the extension of the women’s quota to local authorities was a timely and
welcome development expected to improve women’s participation in governance.
“The number of women in council has been decreasing at worrying levels. We do not
have female councillors. This is despite having female candidates contesting in both
primary and harmonised elections. We had a number of female candidates in the
recently held primaries but only one was successful. We are really hopeful that the quota
will improve the situation,” he said.
In the recently held ZANU PF primary elections out of a total of 54 candidates who were
running for the National House of Assembly seats in Matabeleland North Province only
15 were women. Of the 15, 12 were competing for National Assembly seats while three
were for the Senate.
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