Women Urged to go All Out for Political Office

Women have been called upon to participate in electoral processes and exhibit more ambition to attain influential political positions by holding out for fifty-fifty representation in Parliament as provided for in the Constitution.

The call came during a meeting held to discuss the impact of recalls on service delivery as well as the participation of women in electoral processes. Pumula North Hall was the venue for the meeting which was hosted by Women’s Institute For Leadership Development (WILD), Community Podium, Ekhaya Vote, and The Girls Table on Friday. The theme of the meeting was ‘implications of repose on women in electoral process’

Speaking during the meeting, former Member of Parliament for Pumula Constituency who was recalled from Parliament, Schelesile Mahlangu said it is important for women to participate in electoral processes because the electoral outcomes will always affect a woman’s daily life.

She further encouraged those who are getting into politics to understand that it is necessary to withstand pressures that come with positions of leadership as she highlighted that some women are deterred from occupying political positions due to fear of pressure and victimisation.

“In politics one can be recalled which is an abuse to women because it gives the impression that Parliament is a preserve for men. Therefore, as women, we have to be strong when faced with such adversity. Remember that I am a survivor of the damaging recalls but I am still pushing forward,” she said.

Defiant Mahlangu was recalled on 17 March 2021 but has not thrown in the towel. Her supporters have backed her and afforded her another shot at Parliament in the upcoming by-elections slated for 26 March 2022.

In her submission during the meeting, Ward 17 Councillor Sikhululekile Moyo said women should be the ones taking more seats in the council to improve the state of service delivery.

“Women are the ones who spend most of their time at home hence are largely affected by poor service delivery in communities. As a woman who has a family, I understand better the injustices women face when water or sewer pipes burst. I also understand the urgency that such desperate situations demand. Working as a councilor made me realize that women are inclined to take an extra mile to make things happen, something that men would not do because we are the hardest hit by poor service delivery,” she said.

Councillor Moyo said by taking up influential political positions, women place themselves in prime positions to close the gap between access to services and women in their communities. She further called upon women to shun the “pull her down syndrome.” as she posited that if women can rally behind each other, there would be a change in the balance of gender representation in politics.

Turning to the recalls, Councillor Moyo castigated the recalling of elected officials, saying that it is a sad move that robs communities of development and representation. She went on to relate how she stepped up as caretaker councillor for ward 19 following the recall of the elected ward councillor.

“When the ward 19 councillor was recalled, I took the responsibility of ward 17 and 19 which then made my work so difficult. I had to divide my attention between the two wards. For instance, due to the increased pressure, I could not attend some funerals in the two wards where I had been billed to speak to mourners. Because of the no-shows at such important community events, some residents thought that their councillor was now playing truant and neglecting them,” she said.

Bulawayo Provincial Elections Officer, Mrs Sthabisile Khuphe said women’s participation in electoral processes still leaves a lot to be desired as evidenced by the recent candidate nomination court in Bulawayo which saw a low turnout of women in terms of the nominations.

“We are seeing few women and young girls showing interest in leadership positions that are political. In the current nomination courts, the ratio of women in relation to men was 31 : 69 which is a huge gap that speaks of male domination in electoral processes,” said Khuphe.

Pumula women present cited a plethora of reasons for women’s reluctance in pursuing politics which included lack of information and the fear of being snubbed by the patriarchy and fellow women.

Mrs. Sifiso Nyathi, a Pumula resident said due to the information gap that exists around electoral issues, it is difficult for women to be part of what they do not fully understand.

“We lack knowledge when it comes to these (electoral) things, and as a result most of us do not know where to start or where to go when we want to participate in electoral processes. We are at sea when it comes to knowing who qualifies to be a councillor or an MP. As residents, we wish to know more about these political positions so that we can participate from a position of knowledge,” she said.

Mrs Beauty Bhebhe shared the same sentiments with Mrs Nyathi as she called upon civic society to do more in creating awareness and educating women to facilitate their participation.

Audry Mandile Mangena, a youth, told the meeting that her contemporaries generally do not want to have anything to do with elections or politics because society has cast a shadow on the electoral processes due to the polarised political environment which is associated with violence in Zimbabwe.

“Politics and elections in this country have for long been associated with violence and our generation has been discouraged from engaging in the electoral processes because we want to stay out of trouble. I think the solution to this would be to engage the youth by way of youth programs in which they can be educated on the electoral processes and the importance of participating in the same,” she said.

The organisations that hosted the meeting sought to get to the bottom of the stereotypes, societal setups and some religious backgrounds that have been responsible for women opting to take a back seat when it comes to leadership and electoral processes. The outreach was aimed at debunking and doing away with hindrances that have prevented women from active participation and occupying influential political positions.

In its Agenda 2030, the country aspires to achieve fifty-fifty representation, among other goals.

Source: Community Podium

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