Matabeleland North Correspondent
Victoria Falls – Zimbabwe’s political parties could soon find themselves being compelled to reserve a 30 percent quota for women running for seats after female councillors Thursday successfully lobbied President Emmerson Mnangagwa to increase representation of women in the lower rungs of government.
Mnangagwa however said demand for a 50/50 representation was not feasible as it would cause conflict.
About 300 women councillors from across the country gathered in Victoria Falls Thursday for the Women in Local Government Forum under the auspices of the Zimbabwe Local Government Association (Zilga).
It is the first such meeting by Zilga and it was strategically set for Victoria Falls to coincide with President Mnangagwa’s visit to confer city status to the resort town.
“You are advocating that your representation at local government level should be improved but not through democracy. Currently, our councillors are elected on the basis of democracy and you are now asking me to panel beat democracy to meet your needs.
“Fortunately, I am in agreement. You requested for 30 percent. That is granted and I ask the Minister of Local Government to begin the process,” said President Mnangagwa.
He however added, “A request which you have made which is not practicable is the one where you say we should legislate for political parties to field 50/50.
“How do you decide and say this constituency is for men and that one is fit for women. We need a separate allocation of women which doesn’t bring any conflict.”
This followed a list of request by WILGF.
In an interview after the meeting, WILGF president councillor Idirashe Dongo said the 30 percent quota was an achievement for women.
“Women in Local Government are grateful that the President afforded us the opportunity to present our concerns in person. Our key concern is underrepresentation of women in local government despite Constitutional provisions under Section 17 on gender balance.
“We were appealing to him to consider our key appeal for the same provisions extending the quota in the national assembly to be extended to local government.
“We are grateful that he accepted our request and it is up to us now to support each other and further push for more representation,” she said.
Acting Kwekwe Town Clerk Lucia Mnkandla also said the 30 percent quota was an achievement for women in local government.
“This underscores the plight of women in local government. Once we improve representation of women, we will also improve decision making and service delivery because issues that affect women are the same issues that are critical to the community. Women suffer violence and abuse and bear the brunt of community challenges,” she said later.