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The Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ) statement on new cabinet and reduction in representation of women
Women's Coalition
September 11, 2013

The Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ) is dismayed by the reduction in the representation of women in the new cabinet that was announced yesterday, Tuesday 10 September 2013. There are only 11 women out of the 64 cabinet ministers, deputy ministers and ministers of state for provincial affairs. We note that there are 86 women in parliament from which to choose from and we therefore do not understand this exclusion of women. Women, as a result, form a paltry 9% of cabinet and this is far below the percentage of representation stipulated in section 17.1b of the new constitution which says that,

“… the state must take all measures including legislative measures, needed to ensure that both genders are equally represented in all institutions and agencies of government at EVERY LEVEL”.

“… women constitute at least half the membership of all commissions and other elective and appointed governmental bodies established by or under this constitution, or any act of parliament”.

This constitution was signed into the supreme law of Zimbabwe in May 2013. Zimbabwe also signed and ratified the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development and the African Union Women’s Rights Protocol which commits the country to 50% representation of women in all decision making bodies at all levels.

WCoZ as the umbrella body of women’s organisations, worked so valiantly to have gender equality and equity provisions enshrined in the new constitution. We believe very strongly that Zimbabwe should be among the leaders in gender equality and women’s empowerment. We therefore note with dismay the considerable percentage decrease in the representation of women in the new cabinet. Even more worrying is the fact that the disparities are consistent throughout the other structures. The recent cabinet appointments fly in the face of guarantees in the constitution, which, it appears, for now, will remain on paper only.

WCoZ is therefore calling on the leadership of the country to respect the constitutional guarantees of equality of representation in decision-making bodies. This also relates to the chairpersons of the parliamentary portfolio committees that will be set up soon. We urge for serious consideration of equal representation in the leadership of these bodies. Having celebrated the adoption of affirmative action in the additional 60 reserved seats in parliament, which in hindsight is solely responsible for the considerable increase in the number sitting in the legislature, the women of Zimbabwe, through their representative organisations, are looking forward to improved representation not only in numbers but in effect, in line with the constitution and other legal instruments.

WCoZ will continue to work with its stakeholders in government among others to lobby for the positive transformation of socio-economic and political structures, systems and outcomes that will see real women’s empowerment and gender equality. We will be working with all cabinet ministers and structures and national and local government level to ensure that we have a society in which all women and girl’s rights are respected.

The Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ) however, welcomes the appointment of Hon. Oppah Muchinguri as the Minister of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development. Having worked very well together in the past and achieved key milestones, we are confident of more positive results ahead. With the new constitution as a framework with which to lobby for the translation of laws and policies into implementation, we will achieve a lot more.

WCoZ also welcomes the appointment of Hon. Dr Olivia Muchena, Hon. Sithembiso Nyoni and Hon. Flora Bhuka into substantive cabinet positions of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development, Small and Medium Enterprises and Cooperative Development and Minister of State for Presidential Affairs respectively. WCoZ will continue to work with all three ministers as gender and women’s rights issues transcend all sectors. We are also pleased to note the inclusion of the women Ministers of State for Provincial Affairs, Hon. Eunice Moyo and Hon. Miriam Chikukwa. WCoZ also celebrates the inclusion of the five deputy ministers, namely Hon Alice Mabuwa, Hon. Tabeth Malinga, Hon. Petronella Kagonye, Hon. Abigail Damasane and Hon. Chiratidzo Iris Mlambo.

Visit the Women's Coalition fact sheet

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