Zvamaida Murwira, Harare Bureau
Zanu-PF deputy chief whip Cde Obedingwa Mguni has moved a motion in the National Assembly for a constitutional amendment to ensure that the 60 seats provision under the women’s quota is extended upon expiry in 2023.
The current Constitution provides a 10 year limit for the 60 seats for women in the National Assembly, a move which was part of deliberate efforts by Government to empower women.
Cde Mguni, who is also Mangwe legislator, gave notice last week in the National Assembly that he wanted to move the motion following a standing ovation that Zimbabwe got from Sadc about the constitutional provision which he said was progressive.
“Acknowledging Section 124 (1)(b) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe in the first 10 years of its existence provided for addition of 60 women as part of efforts to enhance women representation in Parliament.
“Also acknowledging Section 122 of the Constitution provides for Senators elected under party list system of Proportionate Representation in which party list submitted by parties should have male and female candidates listed alternatively and headed by female,” said Cde Mguni, amid wild applause from the floor.
“Cognisant that the Sadc Parliamentary Forum Parliamentary recently applauded Zimbabwe for taking such an initiative and encouraged all member states to adopt the Zimbabwean initiative in order to empower women in their respective Parliaments. Noting that representations of women had significantly increased from 18.2 percent in 2008 to 34,29 percent in 2018 mainly due to these progressive constitutional provisions. Realising that achievements gained through these constitutional provisions are likely going to be reversed at the expiry of the 10-year constitutional provision for 60 seats. Given that political terrain is still highly uneven to achieve gender equally.
“Now, therefore, I call upon Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to initiate a constitutional amendment to remove the 10-year cap to the women’s quota so that Zimbabwe remains a leader in promoting women empowerment within the Sadc region.”
Section 124 (1)(b) provides as follows: “The National Assembly consist of (b) for the first life of the first two Parliament after the effective date, an additional 60 women members, six from each provinces into which Zimbabwe is divided, elected under a party-list system of proportionate representation based on the votes cast for candidates representing political parties in a general election for constituency members in the provinces.”
Debate on the motion is expected to commence soon and is expected to get an overwhelming support from backbenchers.
During inclusive government in 2013, Zanu-PF and the MDC-T pushed for a new Constitution which was adopted during a referendum with new provisions promoting the women’s quota.
This was part of Government deliberate policy to ensure gender equality.