Violence stopping women from fully participating in the electoral processes in Zimbabwe

Lovemore Lubinda

The Election Resource Centre (ERC) has castigated politically motivated violence and intimidation as the major drawback for the full participation of women in the national electoral processes.

In a statement as Zimbabwe joins the global community commemorating 16 days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence, ERC says politically motivated violence and intimidation is usually ignored when celebrating the 16 days.

“More so, 36 years after Zimbabwe attained independence in 1980, elections still symbolise brutality, and the situation is worse for women,” reads part of the statement.

ERC adds that women largely remain the major victims of the violent nature of the electoral processes in the country which has resulted in the negative participation of women. They bear the blunt of politically motivated violence as they are physically, emotionally, and sexually attacked, adding that women take care of their injured husbands and children due to this ill.

“Disenfranchisement of women’s participation in politics and elections either as contestants, activists, or political party supporters is exacerbated by the unresolved violent confrontations of the 2008 elections and intimidation in 2013 which have continued to haunt men and women alike, curtailing the meaningful participation of women,” adds the statement.

ERC has called upon all stakeholders to not only speak against violence, but also look for ways of confronting the militarism that has systematically defined politics and elections in Zimbabwe. The centre says the absence of political will by election stakeholders to ensure the creation of a peaceful environment is a threat to women’s participation in the next elections in 2018.

“The current farce, therefore does nothing, to give people assurance that their active participation in politics is not a way of inviting trouble to their door steps as they see perpetrators roaming the streets freely,” it adds.

The 16 days therefore presents an opportunity to reflect on the fact that electoral democracy  make the most sense if all or a significant cross section of the society is allowed to participate and make its constituent voice heard- says ERC.

In a related development Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZIMRIGHTS) has also added its voice in a statement marking the same event that violence is a threat to women’s social progress.

Over the years, elections in Zimbabwe have been marred by politically motivated violence, which have seen main political parties in the country trading accusations. While opposition political parties cry foul that ZANU PF is responsible of the violence, the ruling party denies the charge, saying it is the opposition who are the instigators of the violence.

Most recently violent clashes rocked the Norton by-elections which was eventually won by Temba Mliswa, an independent candidate.

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Demographic Survey 2016, reveals worrying statistics which shows that 47 percent of women had suffered domestic violence, which demean them and their social participation in developmental processes.

16 days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence is an international campaign against violence on women and girls.