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NGO petitions Parliament to criminalise attacks against female candidates in elections

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By Alois Vinga


WOMEN and Law in Southern Africa (WILSA) has petitioned Parliament to urgently amend the Electoral Laws in a manner which criminalises political harassment and discriminatory attacks based on gender ahead of the 2023 plebiscite.

Rattled by the realisation that gender equality for both sexes in the country has only remained a paper policy position with so little tangibility seeing the light of the day, WLSA has come out guns blazing demanding justice to be served from the legislative angle.

The think tank widely known for conducting credible research in seven Southern African country, argues local legislation provides an extension of the women’s quota in the National Assembly and its expansion in local government through the Constitutional Amendment Number 2 of 2020.

The petition submitted to the Parliament of Zimbabwe Saturday is premised on the belief that no meaningful achievements can be attained for women outside electoral laws reform.

“Your petitioners request Parliament to adopt legislation to criminalise political harassment and sexist attacks against women candidates and political activists.

“There is an urgent need to specifically provide the allocation of campaign financing and the provision of training for women candidates for elections,” the petition said in part.

Parly was also tasked to encourage political parties to institutionalise gender beyond their political party policies by providing gender quotas in their own Constitutions at all levels aligned to the Electoral Act Code of Conduct and the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

WLSA was also requested to engage with political parties in identifying their need to promote gender responsiveness, inclusivity and accountability in electoral processes as well as encouraging political parties to institutionalise gender beyond their political party policies by providing gender quotas in their own constitutions.

The women’s group said as the country approaches elections there is need to monitor media fairness in terms of gender sensitivity and balanced coverage.

The organisation also expressed concerns over the recently gazetted exorbitant nomination fees and access to the voter’s roll and electoral maps fees for prospective election candidates in Statutory Instrument 144 and 145 of 2022 respectively hinting the development will further alienate women.