By Daniel Chigundu
With calls to extend the life of Proportional Representation to beyond 10 years, as is being proposed by Mangwe legislator Obedingwa Mguni, female legislators appear to be failing to justify the need for more women, especially in the National Assembly.
Proportional Representation was birthed with a view to capacitate women so that they can be able to stand on their own after the expiry of the tenure and to also help champion women causes in Parliament.
However, women have been missing in action with most of them just retreating to being bench-warmers, cheer-leaders and at times silent spectators as national issues are being discussed or debated.
Today, (Tuesday 12 March 2019) only five female legislators excluding the Deputy Speaker officially spoke (debating, raising a point of order, a point of privilege, seconding motions or even seeking clarifications) in the National Assembly compared to 20 male legislators.
The female legislators who spoke are Honourable Marian Chombo (Zvimba North), Ruth Labode (Proportional Representation, Lynette Karenyi (Proportional Representation), Rossy Mpofu (Proportional Representation) and Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga (Proportional Representation).
The lack of participation by female legislators came even after Honourable Misihairabwi-Mushonga had pleaded with the Deputy Speaker Tsitsi Gezi to deliberately favour women related motions or motions raised by women as a way of commemorating the month of March which is generally regarded as the women’s month owing to Women’s Day.
Honourable Misihairabwi said “my second motion is related to the issue that again, because it is women’s month Madam Speaker, I would want to ask you to perhaps make a ruling that because it is our month, motions that are to do with women and girls or that are moved by women in this House, do take precedence Madam Speaker; and, that as we go on to Wednesday tomorrow on question time, that you take a deliberate action to recognise the women that stand up in recognition of the issue that it is women’s month,” she said.
The 20 male legislators who participated are Jonathan Samukange (Mudzi South), Pupurai Togarepi (Gutu South), Tapiwa Mashakada (Hatfield), Settlement Chikwinya (Mbizo), Kucaca Phulu (Nkulumane), Willias Madzimure (Kambuzuma), Temba Mliswa (Norton), Joseph Chinotimba (Buhera south), Masango Matambanadzo (Kwekwe Central), Dought Ndiweni (Hurungwe Central), Regai Tsunga (Mutasa South), Marko Raidza (Mberengwa East), Muchineripi Chinyanganya (Kadoma Central), David Musabayana (Wedza North), Prosper Mutseyami (Dangamvura-Chikanga), Charles Moyo (Pelandaba-Mpopoma), Obedingwa Mguni (Mangwe), Dexter Nduna (Chegutu West), Prince Dubeko Sibanda (Binga North) and Cecil Kashiri (Magunje).
This means only 25 legislators out of a possible 270 earned their sitting $75 allowances today the rest who were present were paid for coming sitting.
Despite the calls to extend the tenure of the Proportional Representation clause, some are of the view that Parliament is too bloated and needs to be trimmed down.
Women are the majority in Zimbabwe in terms of population statistics but have been less represented in Parliament with their figures actually going down compared to previous Parliaments.
The Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda is on record saying that if political parties do not make deliberate efforts to amend their party constitutions to put women quotas, the number of female legislators is like to further go down.