Women's Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCOZ), a non-partisan national network of women's rights organisations and activists striving for the rights of women and girls calls upon the President of the Zimbabwe, His Excellency E.D Mnangagwa to take leadership and demonstrate progressive political will in the appointment of a Cabinet and senior government official appointments which meets the Constitutional standards of section 17, section 56 and section 80 of the Constitution of equality in the representation of women and men at all levels of government.
Fully cognisant that His Excellency has full constitutional rights under section 104, 105 and 205 of the constitution to make the various appointments to Cabinet, Ambassadorships and Permanent Secretaries, and fully appreciating the efforts that the recent changes of Senior Government Officials and Ministries have included some women in the appointments, the appointments will represent a persisting low number of women in public leadership.
It is therefore with extreme destress and frustration that we note the trend of appointments within government persistently fail to meet the numerical parity of 50% as prescriptively and progressively set by the constitution. This not only undermines the principles of the constitution but gives a public signal that the values of gender equality and rights of women are not in receipt of the full government support.
The negative trickledown effect of such high-level appointments is real. Ministers appointed in such a context of negative socio-political practices that undermines the provisions of the equality in representation of both gender, clearly consider this an acceptable derogation from the constitutional demands as they proceed to appoint Boards of Parastatals and State Entities with complete disregard of the constitution. In some instances, Ministers have appointed Parastatal Boards with literally one woman or no women at all. The fact that such Boards can pass the internal government process checks without being redirected back to meet constitutional standards unveils a state practice of systematic derogation from the constitution by the state within the executive.
Furthermore, it is trite that such widespread practices in the Executive and public sector at large facilitate a adefacto standard setting system in the private sector where the number of women in Boards and senior leaders is still under 10% during an era of the nationwide reforms. As a result, the low numbers of women appointed and selected to lead in various sectors such as media, telecommunications and ICT, manufacturing , retail, agriculture, mining, persistently demonstrate a private sector trend that is in line and in adherence to negative non-written values, norms and practices that consider the low numbers of women as acceptable and 5050 to be only an aspirational goal opposed to a binding standard. This negative trend demonstrates unacceptable systematic and persistent attacks on the constitutional provision of section 17,56 and 80.
These actions not only violate Zimbabwean standards as set in the C0nstitution but clearly violates the various regional and international agreement to which a state party including the Convention of Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the SADAC Protocol on Gender and Development and the SADAC Post 2015 Agenda including also Sustainable Development Goals. The irony of such practices become even more glaring in the face of the review of the CEDAW and Beijing Declaration that was signed by Zimbabwe 25 years ago and is currently being reviewed and reported by Zimbabwe in the Regional and Global UN Processes.
Source: Women's Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCOZ)