Women’s political representation likely to decline post-2023 election, analysts warn

Political analysts have warned that the number of women political candidates in Zimbabwe is likely to decrease after the 2023 election, as most of them are contesting in difficult-to-win constituencies.

This came out during a meeting hosted by the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) on women’s participation in electoral processes.

Speaking during the meeting, the founder of The Girls Table, Samkeliso Tshuma said women contesting in the 2023 election face an uphill task as they are contesting in difficult areas.

“The number of women contesting in these elections has dropped drastically from 2013 when we introduced the constitution. We have one woman contesting for the presidential seat out of 11 candidates,” she said.

“In the National Assembly, we have only 70 women contesting out of 637 but in 2018 we had 237 women out of 1 648 please be mindful that with these candidates we might have a lower number after the announcement of results because where women are contesting in 2023, they are not strong candidates, so we might have a lower number compared to what we have right now.”

Tshuma said there is a need to address the issue of patriarchy in society to see more women participate in elections.

“As long as we don’t address the system that we are in as a society in Zimbabwe then we will never deal with it, we will always come to have these conversations every election cycle and we will not confront the roots. One of the narratives that we push as a society is that women hate each other or women don’t vote for each other, that is not true because you are only addressing leaves. I want us as a society if we are serious about the representation of women we have to deal with the roots,” she said.

 She said women should be judged on competence and not on their gender.  

“When you go on any social media platform and you advocate for women representation, the first thing that people ask for is, is she competent, does she have merit, but no one says that when we talk about man, then you realize that there is a problem in society, we think women are not competent enough,” said Tshuma.

 In addition, Tshuma said political parties in Zimbabwe are not serious about promoting the full participation of women.

 “Political parties in Zimbabwe, talk about seeing more women, let us look at their internal democracy, where are the women, we should not be having these issues when political parties are serious, they should make sure that they promote the full participation of women but they don’t.”

A political analyst, Effie Ncube said the two dominant political parties in Zimbabwe have failed to address the issue of women’s participation.

“The two biggest political parties in the country are the ones who have failed this country, ZANU-PF and CCC, when it comes to women representation and where they have done that token representation, they have tended to put women in the hardest seats to win and man always go for the easiest,” he said.

Ncube added, “Therefore, you are going to see the highest attrition rate, don’t worry about the 70 seats, how many of them are going to win, it’s very few of them because they are in seats that they are unlikely to win.”

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