Commission threatens to sue govt over gender disparities

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By Audience Mutema

GOVERNMENT departments risk being taken to court over failure to abide by the national Constitution which prescribes gender parity in the appointment of parastatal boards, Parliament heard Thursday.

Zimbabwe Gender Commission (ZGC) chairperson Margaret Mukahanana-Sangarwe told the Parliamentary Committee on Women Affairs while presenting oral evidence that it was ready to approach the Constitutional Court over the issues.

Mukahanana-Sangarwe argued that at law, most government ministries and parastatal boards were illegally constituted as they failed to comply with the country’s supreme law.

“As a commission, we are ready to go to the Constitutional Court,” said Mukahanana-Sangarwe.

According to the ZGC chairperson, all Cabinet Ministers following their appointment last year, were sensitised on the need to ensure gender parity in appointing parastatal boards in particular and other general appointments but this has fallen on deaf ears.

“Following appointment of new Cabinet in August 2018, the ZGC sent advisory notes to all 20 Ministers drawing their attention to the constitutional requirement of gender parity in the board appointments.

“In 2019, high level meetings were held with the Ministers on the same issue but still no measures have been taken to use emerging opportunities to ensure the closing of the gaps in the representation on state boards and parastatals,” Mukahanana-Sangarwe said.

“In 2019 the trend is even more worrisome, as none of the boards being appointed have shown gender balance.”

The ZGC identified the Ministries of Lands, Information, Finance, Youth, Transport and Foreign Affairs as major culprits.

She urged the committee to summon these departments for questioning over their flouting of the Constitution.

The Constitution adopted in a referendum in 2013 requires all appointments by government departments to observe gender parity.