BY BLESSED MHLANGA
PROPORTIONAL Representation (PR) seats in Parliament are not delivering their intended objectives and are being abused by political parties to curry favours and reward loyalists, Chiefs Council president Fortune Charumbira has claimed.
“Political parties are abusing the PR seats and they have become retirement gifts to some tired people who come into Parliament and do nothing. I know this because I am in Parliament and I see this everyday,” he said.
The 2013 Constitution made a provision for 60 PR seats for women in an effort to promote gender equality in legislative decision-making.
The effectiveness of the provision, which expires in 2023, came under scrutiny at the ongoing Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) national multi-stakeholder post-election review conference in Nyanga.
Parliamentarians are pushing to extend the PR system to ensure that the 60 seats gifted to women by the Constitution continued beyond 2023.
Charumbira said it was also important to define the roles of PR legislators since they do not have geographic demarcations.
“The problem comes through the disbursement of the Constitutional Development Fund. This money is used to develop constituencies by legislators, so those who will have gone to Parliament through direct elections are the ones who come with the money and are visible. They don’t want the PR MPs anywhere close. Even if a PR MP holds a meeting in the constituency, the legislator who was elected will not be happy and (that) sets up people for conflict,” he said.
Women in Politics Support Unit official Sibusiso Sibanda said the PR system had brought more problems for women.
Sibanda said instead of the PR seats helping in increasing the number of women parliamentarians, their representation was actually shrinking, as political parties were now
pushing out women from the 210 constituency seats because they had 60 free seats.