Cabinet Reshuffle: Missed Opportunity to Comply with the Constitution on Gender Equality

Women’s Academy for Leadership and Political Excellence (WALPE) notes with concern the lack of gender balance in key government positions following the appointments of permanent secretaries and the cabinet reshuffle on 06 and 08 November 2019 respectively by President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Section 17 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe specifically demands gender balance, stating that ‘the State must promote full gender balance in Zimbabwean society and in particular:

a. The State must promote the full participation of women in all spheres of Zimbabwean society on the basis of equality with men;

b. The State must take all measures, including legislative measures, needed to ensure that-

i. Both genders are equally represented in all institutions and agencies of Government at every level, and

ii. Women constitute at least half the membership of all Commissions and other elective and appointed governmental bodies established by or under this Constitution or any Act of Parliament

c. The State and all institutions and agencies of government at every level must take practical measures to ensure that women have access to resources including land on the basis of equality with men.’

These provisions apply to positions in all institutions set up under the constitution including cabinet. Thus the failure to appoint equal numbers of men and women into cabinet and permanent secretary positions violates the spirit and letter of the constitution. Following the recent appointments, only 6 of the 25 (24%) cabinet Minister positions and 4 out of 18 (22%) deputy Ministers are women.

Even more worrying was the replacement of Ambassador Rudo Chitiga at the Ministry for Women’s affairs (where she was permanent secretary) by a man further reducing the number of women in leadership positions as opposed to increasing it.

It is clear that the President is not fulfilling the spirit and letter of the provisions of Section 17, 56 and 80 of the constitution. We therefore call on the President to fulfill his obligation to uphold the provisions of the Constitution by taking concrete actions to redress this imbalance.

  Women Men Total
Cabinet ministers 1 6 7
Deputy Ministers 3 5 8
Permanent secretaries 0 5 5

Gender audit of permanent secretaries and ministerial reshuffle held on 06 and 08 November 2019 respectively

Source: Women’s Academy for Leadership and Political Excellence (WALPE)