Zimbabwe: Local govt quota takes shape ahead of 2023 elections

Zimbabwe: Local govt quota takes shape ahead of 2023 elections

Date: September 23, 2021
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Harare, 20 September 2021: The process of operationalising the recently adopted quota for women in local government in Zimbabwe is now in full swing, following the successful campaign for the inclusion of women in this vital sphere of governance.

Speaking at a meeting of the Women in Local Government Forum this month, Minister of Local Government and Public Works July Moyo explained that the 30% seats for women in local government to be distributed among parties on a Proportional Representation (PR basis) are in addition to the existing 1958 wards in Zimbabwe.

He urged all the women councillors who had won elections under the prevailing First Past the Post (FPTP) system not to abandon those seats. “Go and defend those seats, so that whatever comes is an addition to the 30% quota”, he said.

The local government quota for women passed into law through the Constitutional Amendment Bill no.2 Act of 2021 will see an additional 587 seats added to the existing 1958 council seats bringing the total number of council seats to 2545.

The PR seats constitute 30% of the current number of council seats (1958). However, 587 out of 2545 means women only have a guaranteed 23% of the total number of seats – still higher than the current level of 14% but a far cry from 50%. This would require that women win at least 27% of the FPTP seats, which is almost double the proportion of women who won through this system in the 2018 elections.

Zimbabwe’s 2013 Constitution introduced the mixed FPTP and PR seats for women only to increase women’s representation at the national level. Until the recent changes, the system did not extend to local government. When parliament voted to extend the 30% PR quota beyond the 2023 elections (when it was due to expire) at the national level, WLGF petitioned President Emmerson Mnangagwa, with the support of Gender Links, to ensure that the same provisions are extended to the local level.

Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) chairperson, Justice Priscilla Chigumba reiterated that, “the 30% quota will not be the same for all local authorities but will need to be determined for each local authority depending on the number of wards in the local authority, which is different from parliament”. There is need for political parties to work within the law.

Following the support of the 30% quota by government the Constitutional Amendment Bill no.2 under section 277 on elections for local authorities now reads that (“Elections to local authorities”) is amended by the insertion after subsection (3) of— “(4) An Act of Parliament may provide for the election, by a system of proportional representation referred to in subsection (5), of at least thirty per centum of the total members of the local council elected on ward basis as women).

The Minister of Women Affairs, Small and Medium Enterprises Development, Sithembiso Nyoni, said that, “the government of Zimbabwe has taken progressive steps in amending several laws that promote women’s rights as per the Constitution of Zimbabwe”.

Zimbabwe is signatory to various regional and international protocols to promote gender equality including the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development, among others. Whilst highlighting the underrepresentation of women in the political sphere, Nyoni reiterated the need for the implementation of the local government quota. She emphasised, women’s meaningful participation in all sectors and in particular in decision-making as a key driver to development at the local, national and global levels.

The “nuts and bolts” meeting raised concerns about whether women PR councillors will have the same voting powers in councils as those who come in on the FPTP ticket. The Deputy Attorney General, Nelson Dias highlighted that women should and will have voting powers when the quota is implemented at the local level.

The biggest challenge now is to ensure that political parties embrace the quota and continue to field women in the FPTP seats where they need to double the current level of 14% to add to the 23% PR seats in order to attain parity.  More thought will also need to be given to how local authorities will adjust, given that this will have budgetary implications.

For more information contact Priscilla Maposa on zimmanager@genderlinks.org.za/ +263772732722 OR visit our website and Facebook page and follow us on Twitter.   


One thought on “Zimbabwe: Local govt quota takes shape ahead of 2023 elections”

Mhuri Gelly says:

That’s a great ammendment for women in politics and an important step to gender equality

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