Mutsvangwa Criticizes Gender Imbalance in Zimbabwe Politics

by Adenike Adeodun

Monica Mutsvangwa, Zimbabwe’s Women’s Affairs Minister, highlighted the gender disparity in politics during the 5th Women in Local Government Forum congress. She stressed that the gap threatens democratic and social justice tenets.

Opening the congress, Mutsvangwa expressed concern over the decreased presence of women in the political arena, which suggests Zimbabwe’s continued patriarchal bent. She criticized political parties for not adequately supporting female candidates in the recent general elections.

“Women’s representation in local governance is woefully low, with less than 20% occupying roles such as council chairpersons, councillors, and senior administrators in many rural district councils,” Mutsvangwa stated.

This shortfall, she asserted, contradicts the values embedded in the nation’s Constitution.

According to a report by Newsday, Zimbabwe has seen a drop in women’s political engagement from nearly 15% in 2018 to just 11% in the latest August polls. The presidential race itself featured only one female candidate, Elisabeth Valerio, a decrease from the four women who ran in 2018. Another candidate, Linda Masarira, faced a legal setback when her attempt to secure a place on the ballot was dismissed in court.

“This is a wakeup call,” Mutsvangwa proclaimed, urging that the journey towards gender parity is ongoing. “The enduring legacy of patriarchy and entrenched biases pose significant hurdles for women aspiring to leadership positions.”

The Zimbabwe Gender Commission has also voiced its concern regarding this issue.

Mutsvangwa recognized the necessity of expanding political inclusivity to amplify women’s voices. Nonetheless, she acknowledged that societal norms often discourage women from seeking political roles, describing the local political landscape as male-dominated.

“Recruitment, nomination, and support for female candidates by political parties remain inadequate,” she explained. Additionally, Mutsvangwa cited familial responsibilities and hostile work conditions as further obstacles to women’s political participation, along with lingering doubts over their capabilities and credentials.

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