With 2018 only a matter of less than two months away and the national elections in about nine months, I am not so confident again that we will improve the numbers of women in key political decision making positions.
This I say based on the outcome of last week’s local government elections.
If the 23 000 people who registered for the local government elections was to be used a sample of things to come in 2018 national elections, then I can only encourage all parties concerned with women empowerment to start thinking of other strategies to encourage their participation.
About 74 council positions were up for contestation only 10 per cent of women got elected. In fact, not even the token gesture of electing them into positions of being mayor is going to disguise the underperformance.
I do hear that the Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Edgar Hillary has already tabled in Parliament a Bill seeking to elect women into the House of Assembly.
Based on our electoral system and our patriarchal society one would appeal to the men who are currently on the driving seat of legislation to be sympathetic to the issue when dealing with the Bill.
I am aware that a lot of rhetoric is going on around the need to elect women into positions of power and so far it is nothing but just that – simple talk.
Awareness and sensitisation is good, but we need to go beyond that and put in place laws and policies that would encourage the elevation of women into leadership positions.
I have read as well this week that Gender Links is calling for the few women who have been elected to be elected into the positions of mayor. Whilst I am not averse to such an idea, but such is nothing but tokenism, where the majority deciding on the direction of the council are men, who are the majority. What would a mayoress do if the male dominated council decides to vote against her in many of the issues?
The only thing that happens is that the flavour or the face is that of woman, but the power behind the seat is male hence the choices being made influenced by men.
The SADC Gender Protocol and many other international instruments we have signed are promoting the election of women into leadership positions.
The only way such a situation can be guaranteed is through quarter system, where certain structures are obliged to field a certain number to be women.
In a system where such is left to the voters and a society where males still dominate the political and social landscape, expecting the country to reach at least the 30 per cent and 50 per cent women representation will be like playing lottery.
The only thing that would enhance the women numbers would be through a deliberate appointment by the appointing authority and by the members of parliament when electing senators.
The Bill should state for instance that in the case where women elected MPs are less than 20 per cent, the House when electing the 10 senators should elect at least seven women. The same way should be expected of the appointing authority where he gets to appoint 20 Senators and 10 MPs.
Only in that way can we be in a position to boost the numbers of women in leadership positions.
Coming back to the recent Local Government Elections, in my space they don’t even qualify to be called elections, but can be best described as selections.
There was no voter education in this election hence probably the low numbers of women who were elected is not even surprising.
In the main, those who were elected are in the main returning councilors who already knew the game.
Those who may have been interested but had no idea how to position themselves where not attended too, hence they were left out.
The Elections and Boundaries Commission has to take the blame for this by abdicating its responsibility.
The people who were assigned the responsibility to run the elections were not impartial; they had interests on who gets back into council as they are the ministry responsible for local government affairs.
The EBC has to now double its effort if it aims to deliver a credible national election next year, where everyone irrespective of gender or sexual orientation feels part and parcel of the exercise.
To the organisations promoting the election of women into leadership positions, they must know that every space matters. These local government elections mattered as well, we cannot only pick and choose where we want to place women, every space is key.
We need more women numbers in the running of our councils and they should have taken interests and made sure that they prepared them to stand for election.
In closing, let me commend His Majesty the King for leadership he has demonstrated in the Swaziland Christian and Medical University issue, which was becoming a political hot potato. Bayethe
We say for the wise intervention and surely that demonstrates your commitment to vision 2022.
The decision to suspend classes by government was bad and such should be avoided at all costs in future.
We needed to think for the students and the parents who were paying their tuition fees. Administrative issues needed to be addressed administratively.
It is unfortunate today that the ICT Minister Dumsani Ndlangamandla has been a victim of the students’ anger reaction, but he will learn and start to appreciate their mantra of collective responsibility.
We do not condone the violent conduct of the students, but their situation was frustrating not to them alone, but all those concerned with their well being.