Women in Politics Support Unit (WiPSU) is disappointed by the Delimitation Commission set by President Mugabe which is being entrusted with the responsibility of defining constituency boundaries in preparation of the upcoming elections in 2005. The work of the commission is extremely important as it will define which geographic boundaries determine constituencies, which has an effect on electoral reforms in Zimbabwe and the underrepresentation of women in politics.
Of the current 16 women MPs 13 are elected constituency representatives, 4 urban and 9 rural. We have seen that the rural constituencies have a wide geographic coverage making it a challenge for the MP to make regular visits to different parts of her constituency. The urban constituencies on the other hand have large numbers of constituents who need to be serviced by the MP. The pathetically low numbers of constituencies with women representatives should not and can not be allowed to go any lower certainly not through the work of the delimitation commission. Losing out on the current constituencies would adversely affect women's representation as the current women MPs have been currently carrying out work in their constituencies and through their efforts are deemed favourably candidates.
We are concerned that Government has not seriously considered the concerns that have been continuously raised about our electoral systems of which Government has conceded need to be ratified hence talks of electoral reforms. While the Constitution of Zimbabwe gives President Mugabe the go ahead in appointing this commission, we believe the issue of the delimitation commission should have waited until the bill on electoral reforms soon to be introduced in Parliament was discussed. Civil Society through the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) has been advocating for the setting up of an Independent Electoral Commission, which would oversee all functions and processes of elections including the delimitation of constituencies. The setting up of the commission by Government implies that the proposed and much talked about electoral reforms are not as sincere as the public has been led to believe by the Ruling Party and Government.
We are disturbed by President Mugabe's commission that is extremely gender blind. Currently elections are a highly sensitive issue to all Zimbabweans and all Zimbabweans want to ensure that their interests are represented in ALL electoral processes. This commission has not even one woman. President Mugabe cannot say he failed to find 2 capable women to serve on the
4-member committee. Zimbabwe needs to Africanise and in Africa through the AU we have agreed that all decision-making bodies and public bodies will have a 50% gender balance. We expect the President to ratify this anomaly immediately by appointing at least 2 more commissioners who are women.
We want free and fair elections. There needs to be absolute transparency and accountability in all processes that have to do with elections especially the 2005 ones. They are shrouded with much controversy and expectation from different sectors of the country and regional/international communities. As women of Zimbabwe, fair elections are ones that ensure we are a part of the organs processing and making decisions on elections, fair elections are ones that enable women to vote free from intimidation, violence, vote buying conditions and free elections are ones that enable us to participate as candidates with no limitations, no hindrances and no inhibitions.