…‘gender parity impossible without political will’
MUTARE - Police brutality against women witnessed during the recent Hope of the Nation address by Nelson Chamisa in Harare represents the many threats that discourage female participation in political activities, MDC secretary for election Jacob Mafume has said.
Speaking during the 2019 National Gender Forum last week, Mafume said the brutality also hindered attainment of the envisaged 50:50 gender representation in political circles by 2023.
The 3rd annual National Gender Forum ran under the theme, ‘Consolidating the Strategies: Laying out the Roadmap for Getting to 50:50 by 2023’.
A number of videos of police brutality went viral on social media, showing riot gear armed police indiscriminately beating men and women in Nelson Mandela St in Central Harare.
Initially the address was scheduled for Africa Unity Square but police denied the MDC permission to go there claiming that people were likely to abuse the event to stage demonstrations against the worsening economic outlook.
The party then decided to hold the address at their headquarters in Nelson Mandela Avenue, but police broke the gathering apart by savaging all and sundry.
Mafume said that political environment should be part of the discussions so that the nation will see the full realisation of 50:50 gender representation.
"There were images primarily of women being beaten by the police at our Presidential Hope of the Nation Address. The political environment in which women are brutalised and injured discourages them from participating in political activities. It makes the playfield unfair and toxic, not forgetting the defamation of women's character and assassinations," said Mafume.
He said the National Gender Forum should draw recommendations for the Gender Commission on how to effectively deal with perpetrators of violence against women in politics.
"Political parties cannot work on this alone without enabling legislation or recommendations for the Gender Commission on how to detoxify our operating political environment.
“As we discuss the technical mathematical gender representation, we should look at the political environment and how harmful it is especially for young women. As a party, we will work towards the creation of an enabling environment that severely punishes people who commit gender-based violence against women in politics," Mafume said.
Mafume told TellZim News that the political environment in Zimbabwe was gender insensitive, with ‘sadistic men masquerading as policemen brutalising defenseless women with pleasure’.
"Our society has no moral values and it is uncultured. Violence is ingrained in the DNA of institutions that are supposed to protect citizens. They target the most vulnerable including old women and men.
"We will never be blessed as a nation, no wonder why nature is visiting us with all sorts of droughts and disasters. It’s because our country no longer have respect of all things that are taboo. Even the worst of criminals are not brutalised when they are being arrested or taken to court so why political congregants?” queried Mafume.
Mafume said that there was a constitutional crisis since there is no gender equality in institutions of the country.
"The constitution is very clear that gender equality should be 50:50 yet most of the institutions are not adhering to it including the executive. Even the naming of our roads is not gender responsive. They are naming roads after dead man from as far as Russia yet they cannot consider names of great women from Zimbabwe.
"We are in male-dominated society and it’s terrible that we do not acknowledge the contribution of great women who died and who are still alive. We must uplift women and get to 50:50 in the shortest possible time in order to be in full compliance with the constitution," Mafume said.