By Thandiwe Garusa
The opposition MDC wants the parliamentary women’s quota system to be permanent as opposed to President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s proposal for another 10 year extension, it has emerged.
Introduced in 2013, when the Constitution was adopted after a referendum, the quota system allows for the appointment of 10 female MPs per province on a pro-rata scale based on political party performance in the general election.
MDC vice president Lynnette Karenyi-Kore, in an interview with NewZimbabwe.com, said Mnangagwa’s “piece-meal” reform process towards gender parity was not enough.
“If the government wants to extend the issue of proportional representation, they must extend it not with 10 years. Instead, it should be adopted permanently and added to the Constitution.
“The reason we are refusing this is because we are being told that you already have 60 seats in the Parliament as if we are being given them for free. Why don’t they just put it in the Constitution to say we have got 60 seats for women. First, we want affirmative action before we talk of equal representation,” said Karenyi-Kore.
The MDC MP for Manicaland, added that government should also take concrete measures to implement the constitutional 50/50 representation at all levels of government.
“I further call upon the Zimbabwe Gender Commission, to also intensify its leadership role in terms of the initiative to achieve full gender equality in the country,” she said.
The quota system according to Karenyi-Kore has been turned into a platform for ridicule for women.
“Worse still, other parliamentary candidates have started to label the women elected through the quota system as ‘Baccosi’, a derogatory slang word used by some citizens when referring to things given for free.
“In short, the women’s quota now seems to be disadvantaging women more. Women are suffering, discriminated and still being rated as second class citizens,” she said.
Karenyi-Kore is a beneficiary of the system.
She added: “Alternatively, in an effort to achieve 50/50 representation, the women’s quota may stay but on condition that we further reserve more constituencies for women representatives.”