November 23, 2004

Women's group welcome female vice presidency nominee

Women's groups in Zimbabwe have welcomed the prospect of having a female vice president after next year's parliamentary elections, but say not enough is being done to promote the greater participation of women in politics. The ruling ZANU-PF at the weekend endorsed the minister of water development, Joyce Mujuru, as the party's second vice presidential candidate, partnering Joseph Msika as the first vice presidential nominee.
"We commend the nomination and hope that this means that issues of gender are being taken seriously among senior politicians. But, at the same time, we want to see more women in important decision-making positions," director of the Harare-based Women in Politics Support Unit, Tsitsi Matekaire, told IRIN on Monday. She pointed out that women were still under-represented in parliament, with just 16 of the 150 seats occupied by females. "Within local government it is marginally better, but that is nothing to be overjoyed about," Matekaire added.
Zimbabwe is one of four countries in sub-Saharan Africa where the proportion of female parliamentarians declined during elections in 2000-02. Should ZANU-PF claim victory in the 2005 poll, Mujuru is expected to become one of two female vice-presidents on the continent. Uganda's quota system, which is a form of affirmative action in favour of women, paved the way for the appointment Wandira Kazibwe as vice president almost 10 years ago.
Despite the broad show of support for Mujuru's candidacy, women activists said it did not guarantee that she would use her position to make decisions benefiting the majority of women. "During her political career Mujuru did, at some point, deal with women's affairs, but the bulk of her experience has been 'hard core' politics, where she has concentrated on infrastructural development, communications and water issues. So it is unlikely that as the vice president she would push the women's agenda," said national director of the Federation of African Media Women, Sinikiwe Msipa-Ndebele. (IRIN)

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