The Women’s Academy for Leadership and Political Excellence (WALPE) welcomes the holding of by-elections across the country on Saturday, 26 March 2022 for both local government and legislators. While the move by the Government of Zimbabwe is commendable, we would like to raise concern over the low numbers of female candidates for the vacant posts.
Over the years women have raised alarm over intimidation, harassment, cyber bullying and violence as some of the hindrances that stop them from taking up political office. It is our wish that these by-elections allow a free space for all female candidates to participate freely without victimisation of any sort.
As WALPE, we are encouraging all female political candidates to remain resolute and strong as they enter male dominated spaces. The organisation also urges all political party leaders to ensure that they provide safe spaces for aspiring women leaders to actively participate in politics without fear of harassment, cyber bullying, intimidation and or violence. Peace should prevail before, during and after the elections.
All Zimbabwean citizens registered and eligible to vote are implored to come out in their numbers and support the female candidates regardless of which political party they are from. In the same vein, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is expected to ensure that elections are conducted in a free, fair, transparent and credible manner which will further encourage more female candidates to participate in future plebiscites as both candidates and voters.
WALPE appreciates the coverage the media has been providing to aspiring women leaders to date. The media is further encouraged to report objectively during the entire election process and to ensure that women candidates from all political parties are given equal airplay on radio, television and social media. Our position as WALPE in line with our 2.2 Million Votes For Women From Women election Campaign is to encourage women to come out enmasse and vote for fellow women to ensure necessary development and transformation of communities.
WALPE’s 2.2. Million Votes for Women from Women election campaign aims to engage and mobilise 2.2 million women across the country to register to vote and vote for women candidates in by-elections, 2023 elections and beyond. The campaign is as a result of the dwindling numbers of women elected and appointed into leadership and decision-making positions such as councillors, Members of Parliament (MPs), cabinet ministers or other high level government positions. Currently, women are severely underrepresented in all leadership positions as evidenced by the fact that they occupy only an estimated 15 percent of leadership positions nationwide which is far below the requirements of sections 17, 56, and 80 of the Zimbabwean Constitution that mandate gender equality in all levels of leadership.