FEMALE legislators have demanded 105 seats in Parliament and full implementation of the 50:50 gender representation ratios instead of the 60 proportional representation quota that they are currently benefiting from.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
This issue was raised by female MPs across the political divide during debate on the Second Reading Stage of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment No. 2 Bill in the National Assembly.
Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi, who brought the Bill before Parliament, said one of the amendments will entail extending the life of the proportional representation (PR) quota for women by two more terms to ensure that women are empowered sufficiently for them to stand on the same footing with men to contest for constituencies.
Lynette Karenyi-Kore (MDC Alliance PR MP) said the 60 free PR seats were not enough and did not benefit women as they caused women to fight to be chosen for the few PR posts; while in some cases this resulted in sexual exploitation of women.
“Increasing the PR years to a further two terms is not what women want — most women want 50:50 gender representation as stipulated by the Constitution. What it means is that of the 210 seats, 105 seats must be reserved for women,” she said.
“Women do not want free seats — we want to compete as women and represent constituencies,” she said.
Karenyi-Kore said PR seats caused a lot of hatred amongst women adding, “the Women in Politics Support Unit (WiPSU) did a survey which said that there was sexual exploitation of women when choosing women to occupy the PR seats by political parties.”
She said surveys on PR seats have also revealed that women at the top leadership of political parties were also the ones that benefitted from the PR seats and also had a tendency to want to cling to those PR seats for several terms.
“Some have been in PR seats continuously and as a result that woman who is not favoured enough to get a PR seat will never get into Parliament. We women want to work for our seats as it gives us respect that we have constituencies.”
Karenyi-Kore said any woman who serves two terms on the PR quota is already empowered and must give a chance to other women.
She said the youth quota should also be supported, adding that the 60 free PR seats must be divided with half of those seats given to young women.
Gutu South MP Pupurai Togarepi supported the extension of the PR quota and the bringing in of young women through the 60 free seats.
“Young women should also have a chance to get into Parliament such that we have 30 young women and 30 old women from the 60 seats. However, if women get 105 seats and the 60 PR seats, we will end up having more women than men in Parliament,” he said.
Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice, Misheck Mataranyika said during public hearings on the Bill the majority said there was need to implement the PR system, while others demanded 105 seats for women
“People said a disability quota, should be included. On the youth quota they said while it is welcome, there should be eight youthful MPs per province because a majority of people in the country are youths,” Mataranyika said.