Proportional Representation legislator for Matabeleland South, Priscilla Misihairambwi has called on the government and key stakeholders to look at the possibilities of extending the Women Quota, which is set to expire in 2023.
Section 124 of the Constitution provides for the equal representation of women in Parliament through the appointment of 60 non-constituency legislators.
Speaking to 263Chat on the side-lines of Young Women’s Political Power, Representation and Participation Conference organised by the Institute of Young Women Development in Harare last week, Misihairambwi said she is of the view that the PR system has not really achieved its set goals as more women are still being sidelined in the political governance of the country.
“Like any other affirmative action, you stop it when the conditions for which it was set out is achieved. Clearly, women have not gotten to that stage so the extension should be in place,” she said.
She added that there is a need for the PR to not be linked to political parties as it becomes exclusionary.
“I think people have real issues around the quota system not being necessarily linked to political parties.
“If I, as a woman, not in any political party, why that should be an impediment in me participating in representing women if I want to. In my opinion, if a woman wants to represent women, we should continue supporting her.
“That PR position should be voted for by women because that person will be representing the women’s voices. However, if men also want to vote, they can do but I would move a motion to have a PR person being voted for by women,” she noted.
Concerns have been raised that the PR system has been hijacked by political parties and is now used to side-line women from contested seats.
It is argued that political parties, mainly those dominated by men, now relegate women to PR seats and away from contested constituencies, making PR useless as it is not producing new leaders as the older women parliamentarians, who have served for many years, take ‘retirement’ in the PR ‘safe seats.
Gillian Chinzete, co-lead programs director for IYWD told this publication that women are not ready to lose the PR system as evidenced by the low representation of women in parliament.
“It’s something that we are not prepared to lose because despite having it in the 2018 elections, our female representation is still very low.
“Now we are thinking about how it will look like in 2023, we might see the numbers getting to zero,” she said.