Women`s quota system extended to local authorities

By Albert Nxumalo

FRINGE political parties whose female candidates have been struggling to win elections have been afforded an opportunity to have representatives at local government level after Cabinet on Tuesday approved a plan to allocate 30% of the seats to women in all local authorities.

The development is seen as a milestone to attain the 50-50 balance at local government level.

Parliament and local government structures are dominated by Zanu PF and MDC male representatives.

The quota system is currently limited to the National Assembly.

A formal proposal for the quota system was tabled during the inaugural Women Councillors Indaba in Victoria Falls last week which was attended by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Female councillors lobbied and advocated for an increase in the representation of women at the local government level.

They said their participation at all levels of decision making is critical for the development of the country as local government plays a fundamental role in the day-to-day lives of women, the elderly, youth and men by virtue of being the closest to the general populace.

In a post Cabinet briefing, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said the “principles seek to extend the progressive Constitutional provisions on gender equality to local Government structures.”

“Cabinet considered and approved Principles for the Amendment of the Constitution on Proportional Representation in Local Authorities, which was presented by the Minister of Local Government and Public Works.

“The proposal is in response to submissions by Women Councillors at Victoria Falls, which His Excellency the President undertook to bring to Cabinet. The Principles seek to extend the progressive Constitutional provisions on gender equality to local Government structures,” she said.

Presently the proportion of women at local government is at 14% and has declined four percentage points over the last two elections.

Bulawayo council now has only six female councillors out of the 29 wards.

However, that will change when the constitutional amendements are implemented, Mutsvangwa added.

“In particular, the systems of proportional representation for the election of candidates to Parliamentary seats will be extended to local authorities. 

“The principles will facilitate increased women and minority parties representation in lower tiers of governance, thereby bringing stability and balance in decision-making as power-sharing becomes more visible at the grassroots level”.

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