ArticlesWomen In Politics

Life outside Parliament has been great: Majome

By Michelle Muchina

Former Harare West Legislator Jessie Fungayi Majome has said she is enjoying life out of Parliament adding that she is now able to focus on other things including her law practice.

Majome contested for the Harare West seat as an independent candidate in the 2018 general elections but could not get enough votes to retain the seat.

Her decision to stand as an independent candidate emanated from allegations that there were calculated efforts to undermine her candidature in the MDC Alliance primary elections.

In an interview, Majome who is now a Commissioner with the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZAC) said she is glad to be back to living a life which is free from pressure.

“It has been frankly wonderful. Initially, I enjoyed going back to living the life of a private citizen – no pressure to fix or be answerable for almost everything, including for totally unrealistic and non-mandate issues and to keep communicating to virtually everyone because the duty of being a representative demanded that. I loved devoting all my time to my law practice which I had missed as I was only partially available to it when I was an MP.

“Then duty called again – to serve in public office again, this time as Anti-Corruption Commission Commissioner and I answered I’m not sure if it’s because I look for ’trouble/ or ’trouble’ look for me. So I still enjoy my law practice and serving my country in a national capacity that is not as personally demanding as politics,” she said.

There had been speculation that Majome would eventually join Thokozani Khupe’s MDC-T but the seasoned women’s rights advocate said even if she is given another chance she is not coming anywhere near politics adding that “no I don’t and I wouldn’t.”

According to Majome, Zimbabwe is not an easy place for women to contest in elections or participate effectively in politics adding that there are a lot of barriers and that the system favours males at the expense of females.

“It’s tough! Our political party system is a bastion of patriarchal male dominance. Women are expected to serve there in servile, supportive and pliant roles. Not kowtowing to male-order attracts swift and retribution.

“The wider political landscape also places systems barriers to keeping women out which include the politics of patronage (buying of seats by the highest bidder) and violence including gender-based violence both of which modes of politics are anti-women,” said Majome.

She said the women’s quota is a positive move which has been both abused and under-utilised in efforts to emancipate women’s participation in politics or holding prominent positions.

“I think it’s a fabulous device of affirmative action that is sadly under-utilised, misunderstood and abused in our present-day Zimbabwe. It must first be understood that we should be proud of being probably the only country with a 50% quota i.e. Section 17.

“We have 3 other quotas the zebra list with woman on top of the Senate i.e. Section 120(1)(a), the Provincial Councils’ zebra list of Section 268(3)(b) and the 60 women added to the National Assembly by proportional representation for 2013 to 2023 by Section 124(1)(b),” she said.

The former Harare West legislator said it’s now time to amend the Electoral Act so that it can allow for the delimiting of 105 women only seats and 105 men only 50 seats in Parliament.

“The 60 seats should end in 2023 meanwhile the Electoral Act should be amended now for ZEC to use its power in Section 239 (f) to delimit constituencies and other boundaries to delimit National Assembly 105 women’s only and 105 men’s only seats (50-50) and the same for council wards nationwide and Chiefs’ Council delegates to the Senate,” she said.

On the decision made by Cabinet recently to extend the life of the Proportional Representation Clause by another 10 years, Majome said the move is only meant to short change unsuspecting women adding that current female legislators shout not vote for it.

“To extend the quota is to bamboozle and short change women and avoid the 50% quota requirement of Section 17 of the Constitution.

“I’m shocked and disappointed that women MPs are being myopic enough to celebrate the extension. They should not vote for it as it defers the parity women are entitled to,” she said.

Majome said she was disappointed that she was not able to finish various projects and motions that she had embarked on before leaving Parliament.

The former legislator had moved a motion calling for car licence fees to be restored back to Harare City Council and other local authorities, to stop ZESA from collecting rural electrification levy from urbanites, abolishment of the death penalty, motion to have mandatory stiff sentences for rape and GBV, lobbying for the computerisation of Mt. Pleasant Registrar General’s satellite office so it can also issue birth certificates, plastic IDs and passports.

She also wanted a drug abuse policy and response for Zimbabwe, motion to make safety belts compulsory for buses and pushing for the implementation of the Constitution rather than amending it.

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Daniel Chigundu

Daniel Chigundu is a journalist in Zimbabwe and has been practising since September 2009. He used to be the editor for The Business Connect (newspaper) in Harare, has his own website Tourism Focus which is biased towards the tourism sector. Daniel is also working with Magamba Network as news editor for their project called Open Parliament where they do live coverage of Parliamentary activities on Twitter and Facebook. He is currently the secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Parliamentary Journalists Forum, is a member of Zimbabwe Small Broadcasters Association and a board member of Digital Communication Network. He holds a Diploma in Communication and Journalism from the Christian College of Southern Africa (CCOSA), a certificate in Youth leadership training from the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), a certificate in Citizen Journalism from Magamba Network and is currently a first-year student at Zimbabwe Open University studying for a Bachelor of Arts Honours in Ethics and Organisational Leadership.

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