Women disappointed by female candidates manifestos

By Khanyile Mlotshwa

Some women in Bulawayo have expressed disappointment at the lack of gender-specificity in female candidates’ manifestos in the upcoming elections.

Contributing to an online discussion hosted by Amakhosikazi Media on Wednesday evening where two women parliamentary candidates presented their manifesto, the women said, in terms of talking, women have been empowered enough.

“What we need now is action,” said one of the women.

“The situation that we are in right now needs people who act rather than those who talk a lot. We need action. As women, we should have started four years back to mobilise and build towards this moment of elections.”

Another woman said she is disappointed by the issues that are raised by female candidates as they skirt issues as far as gender issues are concerned.

“Their manifestos are not gender specific to women,” she said. “Why can’t they work on strengthening the provisions of the constitution where women are concerned? 

“We don’t need more empowerment because we are already empowered. What we need is the implementation of the provisions we have in the constitution and other statutory instruments in a gender conscious manner. 

“We need our female candidates to talk about water, electricity and schools and all the other issues that affect women directly.”  

A male contributor on the platform said women’s focus should be on addressing the system rather than narrowly focusing on empowerment which was more an act of amendment.

“I take it in the sense that we are empowering women because they have somewhat been ‘disempowered,’” he said.

“That is denied to be who God created them to be as ‘partakers and participants’ in the dominion mandate. The challenge women face is not their lack of inheritance, land, money, job opportunities, and so on. Their challenge is the system that excludes them from such basic human ‘givens’ by the Creator.

“It is mostly the cultural or traditional, religious systems which influence the political system. So for me empowering women is about engaging these root systems which are deliberately designed to fail humanity. We can give them jobs, and so on, but still they struggle with the details of a larger and deeper system that never allows them to be who God intended them to be.”

“My take therefore is Let us go for the root systems.  Engage and interrogate these. Unless there is the renewing of the mind, transformation will not be fully experienced.”

Another contributor said women and girls have been empowered enough, what is lacking is the transforming power “to show it and bring to reality and practice the implementation of learnt lessons.”

“Skills were given and the problem with women is lack of trust and belief in each other to work and build together as women,” she said. “Even much has been done we no longer need competitors for each other but to be complementary of each other as women.”

Two candidates in the forthcoming elections had kick-started the discussion by presenting their manifestos for the 23 August elections.

Soneni Moyo, a CCC candidate for Pelandaba/Tshabalala constituency in Bulawayo, said if elected into parliament she will work for equality of opportunities in terms of employment.

“I will also work for the protection and justice access for girls and women, in terms of shelter, health care and legal support as women are mostly at risk of being raped,” she said. “Women should also be allowed to claim and own land without the need of a father figure being in charge.”

Nompilo Bhebhe, a Zimbabwe African National Congress (ZANC) parliamentary candidate for Nkulumane constituency in Bulawayo, said she will also work for the further empowerment of women.

“Naturally women are leaders,” she said. “All we need is a push. We need women to own companies, big companies. We need women in the corridors of power. Women are a majority.  If we decide we want to take power, it can happen.”

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