7 February 2018

Zimbabwe: President Mnangagwa Is Gender Sensitive

opinion

President Mnangagwa last week appointed High Court Judge justice Priscilla Chigumba as the new Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chairwoman. The appointment comes hard on the heels of other appointments of women in key positions.

The appointment of womenfolk in critical positions shows that President Mnangagwa is gender sensitive. He is rather pro-women. This is against unfounded accusations that he was not gender sensitive when he appointed his Cabinet and Politburo. Those who accused him did so out of ignorance of the dynamics involved in the appointment of Cabinet ministers.

The President chooses ministers from a pool of Members of Parliament. He has a Constitutional leeway to choose only five ministers outside Parliament. Hence, it was not President Mnangagwa who was not gender sensitive, but the system that elected the current Parliament.

The electorate, especially those who are fussy about gender equality and the women themselves, must make sure that the next Parliament contains a sizeable number of women representatives from which the President can select his ministers. This will not put the President in a tight position when it comes to appointing a gender-balanced Cabinet.

The centrality of the positions that women were entrusted with is a clear demonstration of the seriousness that the new administration attaches to issues of gender equity. The whole world is looking forward to this year's harmonised elections.

It is a unique election that is likely to pit new protagonists from the main political parties. After 37 years with former President Robert Mugabe at the helm of Zanu-PF, supporters of the revolutionary party will for the first time invest their vote in a new candidate. MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai is not likely to stand in the race owing to ill health. For that reason, this year's election is generating a lot of interest.

With all the interest surrounding the forthcoming elections, President Mnangagwa has appointed a woman in the form of Judge Chigumba to preside over them. It is an expression of utmost trust in women.

The President has since spelt out that his chief objective is economic revival and the creation of jobs. He said his administration would focus more on economy than politics. He is not lost to the fact that politics without economics is nothing. In that regard, the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority becomes very central in the national agenda of economic regeneration. ZIMRA is the lifeline of the nation for it is responsible for the collection of revenue that makes every Government operation possible.

That important institution was put in the motherly hands of none other than Faith Mazani. The dynamic woman was appointed ZIMRA Commissioner General with effect from February 1. As long as one has the required expertise and experience needed for the job, he or she has an equal opportunity in the new dispensation to be appointed to any position.

Ms Mazani brings value addition to ZIMRA, having worked for regional and international institutions as a tax administrator. Mazani will drive the revenue authority with a proficient board headed by an equally competent chairlady, Willia Bonyongwe. Under the leadership of Bonyongwe, ZIMRA has been surpassing its targets, a trend that Mazani will hopefully maintain.

In terms of section 8 of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act, President Mnangagwa appointed Vimbai Nyemba as the chairwoman of the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (PRAZ).

The authority replaced the State Procurement Board (SPB) that had been gravely infested by corruption. The President has set, as one of his prime objectives, to rid the nation of the vice of corruption. The SPB had topped Zimbabwe's corruption league table.

In the 2016 ranking, the SPB was ranked second from Zimbabwe Republic Police. That level of corruption contributed to the economic decline as investors were scared to invest in a country where corruption is rampant. In his bid to purge the vice, President Mnangagwa has entrusted a lady to help him in that regard. Hopefully, the lawyer will not disappoint. Nyemba should not betray the trust invested in women by the President.

There is also Mildred Chiri, the Auditor-General who shook the nation by her exposés. Her reports were quite revealing although they were not followed by action. Instead, she was relieved of her duty under very mysterious circumstances. However, President Mnangagwa reappointed her and she will continue to expose graft in public institutions and provide checks and balances in corporate governance.

With this team of might brigades, corruption will be a thing of the past and President Mnangagwa's vision of a clean society is not very far.

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