Back to Index
Zanu PF's latest gimmick: Women
Misihairabwi & Grace Kwinjeh
February 13, 2005
messed up the land distribution process, Zanu PF has a new target - women.
In a desperate bid to deal with the twin problems of succession and growing
national unpopularity, the ruling party has found a scapegoat: women.
Women have become
the latest cover for the regime to implement and complete its insidious
agenda of retaining power at all costs.
During its 24 years
in power, and many more years as a party, Zanu PF has routinely neglected
and marginalised the women in its ranks and Zimbabwean women as a whole.
to retain its stranglehold on power, the ruling party is now making a
cynical attempt to hoodwink the public into believing it cares for the
welfare of women. Recent developments within the ruling party concerning
the fate and status of women cannot go unchallenged.
The recent history
of Zimbabwe is rich with examples of Zanu PF trying to repackage itself
to gain national support and international acceptance. In 2000, a popular
movement rejected the government-sponsored draft Constitution on principle
- because the people knew that the process was flawed, and that no worthy
document could emerge from such a process. Just as many pro-democracy
activists saw through that deceit, we must rise to the challenge and see
the recent development within Zanu PF in the same light.
Many women first became
activists in the women's movement in Zimbabwe having realised that Zanu
PF had failed the generality of Zimbabwean women.
The liberation struggle
did not result in our emancipation. In fact, as a liberation party that
went through an armed struggle, its structure and system are based on
male superiority ideology: patriarchy.
From the onset we
need to demystify the appointment of Joyce Mujuru as Second Vice-President
and the status of Zanu PF women as a whole. The patriarchal nature of
Zanu PF has ensured that no strong woman in her own right has emerged
out of the Zanu PF system before now. This is also why the question of
gender equality, both nationally and within the party, remains unresolved.
It must first be understood
that Mujuru is only acceptable to President Robert Mugabe as his Vice
president because she does not threaten his hold on power, either nationally
or within the ruling party.
She has been propelled
to the party's top most position precisely because she poses no threat
to any of the distinct factions engaged in a bitter power struggle within
Zanu PF. These include the Zapu faction, Emmerson Mnangagwa faction and,
of course, the Mujuru faction led by her husband, Solomon.
Putting Joyce Mujuru
in the Vice presidency does not change the fact that Zanu PF remains the
same dictatorial regime with nothing to offer the people of Zimbabwe.
It is still the source of our misery. Women and children form the majority
of the three million people in need of food aid. They are the victims
of the collapsed education system and those experiencing the effects of
the crumbling health sector. They continue to suffer as a result of Zanu
PF's bankrupt policies, and the party's sole interest in retaining power
at all costs.
Reform of a corrupt
political party or system does not come with appointing a woman. Mujuru's
appointment does nothing to address the real questions of governance and
democracy. The crisis confronting Zimbabwe is not about the biology of
those in the governing hierarchy, but their ability to deal with critical
If one examines the
way the new quotas for "women's empowerment" are being handled, it becomes
clear that Mugabe is in control. There was no democratic process of nominating
or selecting constituencies for women. The women being put in the so-called
constituencies set for them are simply replacing Mugabe's enemies. The
absurdity of the whole process becomes evident when we see that women
form the majority of those protesting against the imposition of "women's
Even those women who
have been in parliament in the past 24 years, it is clear that they have
operated within a framework defined by the men - hence their failure to
push the women's agenda at a broader national level.
If this is the behaviour
of Zanu PF, what is the lesson for women in the alternative movement,
MDC? We are fighting the same beast, patriarchy, which transcends every
aspect of our lives - at home, in church and even in the political system
we belong to.
As we struggle within
the MDC, we are clear that patriarchy is an enemy we will fight within
and outside as we refuse to play junior partner to our male counterparts.
It is important that our colleagues understand that the issue of gender
power relationships cannot be separated from the whole fight for human
rights and democracy.
Therefore, we remain
cognisant of the fact that in the alternative movement we have a twin
struggle. We must remain vigilant in transforming our national political
system into a people centred one. Internally we must ensure that our party
lives up to its promises and moves towards a better life for all women
in Zimbabwe, regardless of their political affiliation.
This commitment is
made at many levels. Within the MDC, there is a grassroots women's agenda.
Our National Women's Assembly, held in Masvingo in October 2003, passed
a resolution stating that one third of all MDC posts throughout all MDC
party structures will be reserved for the nomination of women candidates.
The National Executive and National Council adopted the resolution unanimously.
On top of this we have mainstreamed gender in all party policies.
Nationally, as MDC
women we will continue to fight for democracy and human rights for all
Zimbabweans. We will carry the burden of arrests, torture and rape from
an illegitimate and evil regime.
Likewise, we will
continue to insist that our own system does not do to even one woman what
Zanu PF has done to Zimbabwean women.
To achieve that we
call upon our allies in civil society, the region and the international
community to stand with us as we push the MDC women's agenda forward.
Please credit www.kubatana.net if you make use of material from this website.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.