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in politics: Zimbabwe's youngest female parliamentarian
Rusere, Radio Netherlands
October 24, 2013
No less than
35 percent of the newly elected MPs in Zimbabwe are women, thanks
to a special electoral quota system to increase women’s representation
At age 29, Tionei Melody Dziva is the youngest of them. She has
a strong desire to uplift the lives of women and youths.
the proportional representation of women in parliament, brought
about by the new Zimbabwean constitution
that came into effect in March this year, women’s representation
in the country’s parliament more than doubled after the
31 July elections. On 3 September 124 women were sworn in. The
youngest of them is Tionei Melody Dziva (29), who represents the
Zanu-PF party of long-standing President Robert Mugabe.
are mixed feelings in the country over the election results - the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) claims massive fraud
in Mugabe’s favour - Dziva says she’s happy with the
outcome. “The people spoke, the people voted for what they
wanted and they did that in a secret ballot voting,” she says.
at 1.60 meter tall and talks hesitantly, wearing a wide smile while
avoiding to look straight into your eyes at the same time. “I
feel respected by the people of Zimbabwe, as a woman who has been
elected to represent my fellow women and the youths as well.”
While not underestimating
the difficulty of the task lying ahead of her, Dziva says she’s
looking forward to being mentored by the senior politicians in the
house. Her age, she claims, is actually an advantage in that it
will be easy to seek advice from senior parliamentarians, who will
likely be tolerant in case she makes mistakes.
She has monitored
political events unfold since her childhood days and has spoken
to several politicians. All this motivated her to enter the political
arena with a desire to right longstanding wrongs. She says it is
important to “prioritize youth issues, [because the youth]
is the generation that brings development [and therefore] needs
the most attention. There is a high unemployment rate and the economy
is ailing, so many young people have so many challenges, and they
need to be empowered.”
can be miners
Dziva is also
very much conscious of the plight of her fellow-women and says she
needs to work hard to make sure that they will also benefit from
the country’s indigenization policy. She encourages women
to take advantage of female politicians in parliament to bring forth
like to advocate … the empowerment of women in our country.
Of course, most women come from patriarchal societies where they
have not been given the same opportunities as their male counterparts,
at school and in the workplace, and a lot of them now have to create
their own employment by other means,” says Dziva.
While she acknowledges
the importance of venturing into agriculture to alleviate poverty,
Dziva is a strong believer of women’s participation in all
sectors of the economy. As an example, she feels that women should
be allowed to work in the mining industry.
parliamentarian adheres to the Zanu-PF ideology to the bone and
is happy with what the party has brought women and youths. Zanu-PF,
she says, “has promoted women’s rights with a domestic
bill passed in 2006 and it has been a very positive move for women
in Zimbabwe; our party has been there for the people.”
is appointing an increasing number of youths with the party ranks,
it is expected that this will change the way the party will go about
its business. Although 52 percent of the Zimbabwean population are
women, they are highly underrepresented in the decision making bodies
of the different sectors of the country.
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