Harare — AS the watershed votes approach in largely sexist Zimbabwe, women are wary of participating because of the violations that peak against females at election time. This is according to findings by a research thinktank ahead of polls set for 2018 when President Robert Mugabe is for the first time set to come up against a female candidate.
His deputy, Joice Mujuru, who now leads the National People's Party (NPP) after she was fired from Zanu-PF for allegedly plotting against Mugabe, is seen as the biggest threat to the veteran's hold on power. However, Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU), said political violence was dissuading women from participating in elections. Reyhana Masters,
Reyhana Masters, researcher for RAU, said violence was a major hindrance for middle class women and the political environment was currently not conducive for people to participate. "Women are also objectified and seen as sex objects, their contributions are not viewed in any manner other than that and this has forced many of them to stay away," Masters said. Coincidentally, last month, Mujuru accused elders of the now-defunct Zimbabwe People First such as Didymus Mutasa and Rugare Gumbo of soliciting sexual favours from her. Zimbabwe Elections Support Network confirmed the abuse of women,who make up 51 percent of the 16 million population, was rife prior to elections in Zimbabwe. Elections held since 1980 have been laden with rape and deadly violence.