CON­SOR­TIUM STILL GRUM­BLING OVER PARLY WOMEN QUOTA

Sunday Observer - - NEWS - BY ZWELETHU DLAMINI

The Hu­man Rights and Gov­er­nance Con­sor­tium (HRGC) has ex­pressed dis­ap­point­ment on the fail­ure by the elec­torate and gov­ern­ment to en­sure that at least 30 per cent of women are elected to the 11th Par­lia­ment.

The coun­try’s Con­sti­tu­tion stip­u­lates that Par­lia­ment should have at least 30 per cent while the SADC Gen­der Pro­to­col calls for 50 per cent fe­male rep­re­sen­ta­tion quo­tas.

The con­sor­tium noted that the num­bers com­pos­ing the new Leg­is­la­ture (both houses) make up 22 per cent fe­male rep­re­sen­ta­tion.

This is said to have re­sulted from the fail­ure on the au­thor­i­ties and the elec­torate to ad­here to the Con­sti­tu­tion when elect­ing and ap­point­ing Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to the con­sor­tium, there would have been 43 per cent women pro­por­tion guar­an­teed if Sec­tion 95(2) of the Con­sti­tu­tion was fol­lowed.

“There is need to en­sure that the Con­sti­tu­tion is fol­lowed through. Where the Con­sti­tu­tion states that at least eight are to be women out of 20 to be ap­pointed, it did not ma­te­ri­alise.

Sec­tion 95(2) fur­ther states that half ap­pointed mem­bers of the House shall be fe­male, and rep­re­sen­ta­tion from marginalised groups to ad­e­quately rep­re­sent their in­ter­est.

There would have been 43 per cent women pro­por­tion guar­an­teed if the Con­sti­tu­tion was fol­lowed and eight were ap­pointed,” stated the con­sor­tium.

Only two out of 59 women in the House of As­sem­bly were elected in the 59 Tinkhundla as Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment (MPs) dur­ing the Sec­ondary Elec­tions held on 21 Septem­ber 2018.

Three more women out of a to­tal of 10 were ap­pointed by His Majesty the King in Oc­to­ber 2018, bring­ing their num­ber to 5/ 69 in the House of As­sem­bly.

Elect

As an­tic­i­pated, for the time, four women (one from each re­gion) are yet to be elected as the Con­sti­tu­tion pro­vides that if women rep­re­sen­ta­tion is less than 30 per cent, Par­lia­ment should elect them. This will in­crease women rep­re­sen­ta­tion to 9/73 (nine out of 73) show­ing only a 12 per cent fe­male rep­re­sen­ta­tion in the House of As­sem­bly.

In Se­nate, of the 10 se­na­tors elected by the House of As­sem­bly, five were women.

Six out of twenty (6/20) women were ap­pointed by His Majesty the King, show­ing 37 per cent fe­male rep­re­sen­ta­tion in Se­nate. Both houses com­pose 22 per cent fe­male rep­re­sen­ta­tion.

Lead­ing to elec­tions, dur­ing the nom­i­na­tion, 26 per cent women ver­sus 74 per cent men were nom­i­nated in the three cat­e­gories, MPs, Tind­vuna and Bu­copho cat­e­gories.

There were 26 per cent women nom­i­nated for MP po­si­tion. The women MP num­bers dropped to 13.3 per cent in pri­mary elec­tion and 12 per cent after sec­ondary elec­tions.

In the Ind­vuna Yenkhundla cat­e­gory, 14 per cent are women and 13 per cent as Bu­copho are women. The con­sor­tium says there are a range of chal­lenges why women are barred from de­ci­sion-mak­ing, in­clud­ing strong per­cep­tions so­ci­ety still holds about their role.

Ac­cord­ing to the Tool­kit for Gen­der Sen­si­tive Elec­toral Ed­u­ca­tion pro­duced by Women and Law in South­ern Africa (WLSA) - Eswa­tini these chal­lenges in­clude but not lim­ited to five fac­tors.

These are: the so­cio-eco­nomic sta­tus of women, their mi­nor­ity sta­tus, neg­a­tive cul­tural prac­tices in­clud­ing lack of par­tic­i­pa­tion of women mourn­ing the death of their hus­bands, pa­tri­archy, the late cam­paign­ing in the elec­toral process and cor­rup­tion.

“We would like to ob­serve that whilst many dis­miss the ‘ Vote for Women’ cam­paign as hav­ing failed, it must be ap­pre­ci­ated that chang­ing so­ci­ety norms and be­liefs takes longer than merely act­ing upon elec­tions. Un­til women are af­forded more time to cam­paign, the re­sults would al­ways be a dis­ap­point­ment,” says the state­ment.

The state­ment added that this cam­paign was a build­ing block and civil so­ci­ety would con­tinue to ad­vo­cate for more women in po­si­tions of power.

…Vote for women cam­paign achieved 22 per cent rep­re­sen­ta­tion in­stead of the manda­tory 30 per cent.

Some of the women who were lob­by­ing for the Par­lia­ment seats dur­ing the re­cent swear­ing-in of MPs.

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