Speaking out on Violation of Women’s Rights during the 2018 Harmonized Elections.

0 Comment
129 Views

Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ), a non-partisan, Women’s Rights Organisation with the mandate
of promoting, protecting and advancing women’s rights in Zimbabwe applauds the women and the
generality of Zimbabwe for the successful holding of the elections which were reportedly peaceful
throughout the country.

We commend Zimbabwe Elections Commission (ZEC) for conducting the elections on the 30th of July
2018 wherein ZEC demonstrated commitment to the inclusion of vulnerable and disadvantaged groups.
This was done through ensuring that nursing mothers, people living with disabilities, the elderly
and women in general were considered during the elections. WCoZ applauds women’s visible
participation in elections recorded and reported at 75% turnout. Our observers noted that a
significant number of women came out to vote, making up approximately two thirds of the total
voting constituents.
Women’s participation as voters is a reflection of the appreciation of the need for them to have
their voices heard in the running of their nation, as this is pivotal to the improvement of their
socio- economic disposition. However, WCoZ maintains its disappointment with the number of women
who participated as candidates for positions in Council, Parliament and Presidency. Out of the
1,648 candidates who are vying for National assembly seats only 237 are women. Nevertheless we hope
that the few women who made it on the ballot papers will find their way to the leadership positions
to contribute to the reduction of the prevailing gender gap in leadership.
We also condemn in the strongest terms, the incidences of violence against women that were noted by
our observers in various parts of the country. In particular, we condemn the incident that
reportedly took place in Bindura, where an aspiring female candidate for the position of Councillor
was beaten up by her husband, who set fire on her clothes and threatened her with death. She went
to report the matter to the police, and much to our disbelief and horror, she was told to return
after elections. Such a response from the law enforcement agents is deplorable, and unacceptable.
We are therefore advocating for a rapid response police delivery system, that values the lives of
women.
We have also noted with great concern and disappointment that throughout this election period,
intimidation of female voters was prevalent in the country. Special emphasis is on Murehwa,
Masvingo and Gokwe North were reports showed that most women in these areas could not freely
express their political views as they were being intimidated to vote for specific political parties
by political or traditional leaders in their areas. In certain villages, village heads even issued
eviction threats to women, informing the women that they would be evicted from their villages,
should they vote for the
opposition.

While the Electoral Act criminalizes such acts of misconduct through section 133B and 133E, we
strongly urge ZRP and the justice sector to take this issue as critical and ensure that the
perpetrators of political violence are brought to book in terms of the law. Such events are never
to be taken lightly as they are a threat to section 67(1)(b) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, which
provides that “Every Zimbabwean citizen has the right to make political choices freely”. Turning a
blind eye to such illegal conduct at the expense of vulnerable women would be a travesty of justice
and undermines women rights enshrined in section 56 of our constitution and further protected in
the Electoral Code of
Conduct.