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  • New Constitution-making process - Index of articles

  • Women denied parity in the constitution making process by Honourable Douglas Mwonzora
    Paidamoyo Marasha
    January 28, 2010

    I saw the unfortunate statements by the co-chair of the Parliamentary Select Committee, Honourable Douglas Mwonzora with shock and deep sadness. These appeared in the Herald of the 23rd of January 2010. The statement was made in reference to the petition that women presented in protest to the low levels of representation of women in the Constitutional Outreach Teams. Honourable Mwonzora reported that the Parliamentary Select Committee had rejected the women-s petition. He expressed the view that women were following a ZANU PF agenda by complaining about the lack of adequate representation of women. Women participating at the orientation and training of outreach teams noted that women constituted less than 25% of the delegates and in one outreach team there are 40 men and only 4 women. Women from all political parties and those representing civic society drafted the petition to express this concern.

    I personally participated in some meeting between the Parliamentary Select Committee and civic society. The chairpersons are on record as promising women that they will put systems in place to ensure gender parity at all stages of the constitution making process. It therefore presents as a double shock when we receive reports in the media that the Parliamentary Select Committee threw out the women-s petition because it feels that it is a ZANU PF gimmick to delay the constitutional process!!

    Anyway did Honourable Mwonzora speak on behalf of the Parliamentary Select Committee or MDC T? Do other members of the Parliamentary Select Committee agree with Mwonzora? Do women policy makers in that committee agree with him? Was Mwonzora expressing his own chauvinistic views as a gender insensitive MAN? Do the other chairperson of the PSC, Honourable Paul Mangwana agree with him? Do the Women in the MDC agree with Honourable Mwonzora? What of the women from Mwonzora-s constituency who voted him into power? And does the MDC T leadership agree with Honourable Mwonzora? Please respond so we know where you stand.

    The Honourable Mwonzora is carrying himself seems like you he is using this opportunity to campaign for his own personal political power. Unfortunately he is missing it because the base of his power are women who voted for him and other people who support him.

    Women-s participation is informed by our wish to achieve gender equity and equality as citizens of Zimbabwe. It is therefore mischeveous of a national leader to purpote that suddenly the women-s agenda has become a ZANU PF agenda. The co-option of women need not delay the process as the PSC already had names of qualified women from degree level upwards to include and let the process continue.

    Honourable Douglas Mwonzora-s statement smacks of dangerous patriarchal notions informed by the belief that women cannot make their own decisions independently. When they complain either their agenda is informed by western white women or by some political party implying some male leaders. So in simple terms women cannot make their decisions someone more powerful feeds them what to say and what to complain about. We know our policy makers to be more intelligent to think along those lines.

    Personally I am waiting for a retraction and an apology from the Honourable, otherwise he becomes dishonourable. MDC T please reign in this wayward policy maker.

    And Honourable Mwonzora work with the other members of the Parliamentary Select Committee to include women and if you cannot carry out this simple task, then resign from the PSC. We will celebrate your departure and replacement by a gender sensitive policy maker.

    Woman and equal citizen of Zimbabwe, Harare

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