via Sexual harassment lodged against Kaukonde – The Sunday Mail Nov 9, 2014
Women in Politics Support Unit (Wipsu) has received formal reports from female politicians who were allegedly sexually harassed by Mashonaland East provincial chair Cde Ray Kaukonde, an official has said.
The official — who cannot be named due to organisational protocol — said several women filed reports linking Cde Kaukonde to the alleged abuse.
She cited a case involving a former Zanu-PF legislator from whom the provincial boss once allegedly sought sexual favours in exchange for a senior party position.
The legislator, who later joined a rival political party, “fell out of favour” when she turned him down, it is alleged.
“We have received such reports. One of the complainants is (name supplied). Another is an MDC-T parliamentarian who was facing similar problems from her leadership. We counselled them and provided support.”
An official at Msasa Project confirmed that her organisation was also dealing with sexual harassment cases emanating from politicians in Mashonaland East.
Further details could not be obtained, though, as the organisation’s director and spokesperson, Ms Netty Musanhi, was said to be out of office.
Zanu-PF Women’s League spokesperson Cde Nyasha Chikwinya weighed in, saying the ruling party’s influential wing was “aware of female party cadres” who had been sexually harassed or abused.
Cde Chikwinya, who is also Mutare South National Assembly Member, encouraged victims not to fear approaching authorities.
“Basically, as women, we are aware of such cases. We urge all victims to come forward and report. As the Women’s League, we don’t want women to sleep all the way to the top. It’s wrong. They must work hard and resist being taken advantage of,” she said.
Last week, senior Zanu-PF officials, among them legislators and provincial leaders, alleged that Cde Kaukonde had been demanding sexual favours from female party members aspiring leadership positions.
The informants, some of them victims of the alleged advances, disclosed the matter to end criminal abuse of power.
In April, female legislators attending a women’s workshop in Harare said senior politicians in their respective parties wanted sexual favours from them in exchange for primary election and campaign support.
“There was violence against aspiring (female) candidates. They were beaten up so that they would stay at home. But if you were not beaten, you would be sexually harassed, which is abuse of women,” said Cde Chikwinya at the workshop.
MDC-T’s Miss Maureen Kademaunga, on behalf of young women in politics, said some candidates pulled out of primary elections because of sexual harassment.
“When we went out to fund raise, it’s either you would not succeed or since men have money they would get an opportunity to sexually exploit us. So sexual exploitation is what we were running away from.
“A lot of young women ended up not contesting primary elections because they were afraid of these challenges since they would be sexually harassed when they tried to fund raise.”
Efforts to get comment from Cde Kaukonde were fruitless, as his mobile phone went unanswered from Wednesday to yesterday.