Blessings Chidakwa Municipal Reporter
President Mnangagwa has approved that councils add a third of their seats, and reserve that quota for women, as the country moves to achieve a 50-50 representation at grassroots level.
Explaining the new status quo to a recent Women in Local Governance Forum meeting, Local Government and Public Works Minister July Moyo said: “If you have 30 wards, of which a third is 10, that means you add that 10 to your existing numbers and the council will now have 40 councillors. The 10 additional seats you reserve them for women.
“The 30 will continue with first past the post, where I am urging you as women to go and continue to contest so that we will have another addition.
“You have equal votes, equal opportunities to become chairman of council, finance or any committee when you are coming from proportion.
“You are a councillor like the other councillor who has gone through first past the post. Do not think of any discrimination against you. I know it happens at the national constituency quota system, but you will be a councillor like any other.”
Minister Moyo said in terms of administrative boundaries, the women quota could simply equally share the wards among themselves.
“You have any opportunity as a caucus of the women if you are 10 and there are 30 wards you can actually allocate yourself to say I will work in these three wards and the other one will work with other three wards,” he said.
“So, you will have the territory, which most of you will be worried about. You can create territory and work directly like others. The President is very clear about women where you need to appoint people even on boards, if you go without women you are sent back.”
Minister Moyo said local authorities should disburse funds from devolution looking at six key pillars including facilities for education, clinic, roads, water, electricity and social amenities.
“Women, these six areas affect you directly and when you analyse collectively you will know which ward is poorer than the other,” he said.
“When Zimbabwe moves and the President said no community should be left behind, no individuals should be left behind, particularly in the rural areas, that means a lot. Even in the urban areas, we know how it means when it comes to women.”
Deputy Attorney General Mr Nelson Dias said at law all the councillors will be at par in terms of voting rights and privileges.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba challenged women being elected under the proportional representation not to become figure heads, but work for the country.
Senate President Marble Chinomona said the current female councillors should jealously guard their wards in the forthcoming harmonised election so that it will be easier to attain a gender balance through the additional third seats.
“Once we all go for the quota, we are not doing justice for ourselves,” she said. “Let us help other women to go and work in the other wards so that we add our numbers. Then we then add to the proportional representation.”
Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Minister, Dr Sithembiso Nyoni, urged the female councillors to take advantage of the Zimbabwe Gender Commission programme on mentoring and training women.
“Let us protect our positions, but from now let us go to young women with the aim of taking those wards occupied by men since the aim is to attain a 50/50 gender balance not 30 percent,” she said.
President Mnangagwa granted the women’s quota last year following a request by them and Cabinet swiftly adopted the decision which will come into effect in the next harmonised elections.
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