EDITORIAL COMMENT: Where are women lobby groups?

Source: EDITORIAL COMMENT: Where are women lobby groups? | The Financial Gazette September 1, 2016

LAST week, ZANU-PF and the State media hit new lows in their attempts to discredit Zimbabwe People First leader, Joice Mujuru, who is going around the country, mobilising support for her party. The Sunday Mail of August 21, 2016 was the most vicious.
Much of what it said about Mujuru cannot be repeated in a family newspaper like this one. In short, and for the benefit of those who missed the State-run weekly, it alleged that the former vice president was of loose morals during the liberation struggle.
The irony of it is that at the age of 25 in 1980, Mujuru became the youngest Minister in President Robert Mugabe’s Cabinet. She left ZANU-PF and government in 2014, after scaling the political ladder to position number two.
When she was jettisoned from government and ZANU-PF, she was accused of corruption and, of all things, practising witchcraft, among other things. A few months after the widow of the late liberation war icon, Solomon Mujuru, was condemned into the political dustbin, it was then revealed by Jonathan Moyo that the allegations were part of “political banter”.
And yet none among the country’s women lobby groups have said a word about her persecution. Perhaps they think that Mujuru deserves it for venturing into a territory that, hitherto, was a preserve for men?
In our view, this has nothing to do with Mujuru. This is how women are generally viewed in ZANU-PF.
Stories have been told about how high-ranking male combatants would force themselves on hapless female combatants and war collaborators, during the armed struggle. With the advent of independence in 1980, the nation had to move on in the spirit of letting bygones be bygones.
This is why we object strongly to the likes of George Rutanhire’s shameful attempts to characterise victims of rape during the bush war as women of loose morals. Is this not the case where the victim becomes the accused?
These backward attitudes are refusing to die in the ruling party, where women are seen as cheerleaders; and when they ascend to positions of authority, it’s all tokenism. By keeping quiet in the face of injustices against those whom they should be defending, women’s advocacy groups are turning themselves into accomplices in the abuse of women by male chauvinist pigs that are on the wrong side of history.
For that reason, they must hang their heads in shame.
Zimbabwe has several women lobby groups, among them Women Action Group; the Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association; Musasa; Campaign for Female Education; Women Coalition of Zimbabwe; Women and Land Rights in Zimbabwe and Katswe Sisterhood. Because these organisations cower before political monoliths such as ZANU-PF, women’s rights will continue to be trampled upon until they summon the guts to stand up to injustices.
If their fear is that they may get de-registered and deprive themselves of donor funds if they stand up to bullying, then we still have a long way to go to achieve gender equity, especially in politics. It is high time women use their numerical advantage in society to fight for their rights.
There is strength in numbers.