By Nancy Samuriwo, HourlyHits Reporter
THE recent appointment of two males as Permanent Secretaries has torched a storm among gender activists, with President Mnangagwa accused of being insincere on ensuring gender balance in his Government as demanded by the Constitution.
Section 17 of the Zimbabwe Constitution requires that both genders are equally represented in all institutions and agencies of government at every level. The President torched a storm when he last week appointed two males to be Permanent Secretaries, with one of them being ironically assigned to a Ministry that focuses on women’s affairs.
Moses Mhike is the new Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Women Affairs while Christopher Shumba is the Permanent Secretary for the District Development Fund (DDF).
Mhike replaced Dr Rudo Chitiga, who the President had appointed into the post in September 2018.
In a statement, opposition party LEAD described the developments as an oxymoron and urged President Mnangagwa to respect the Constitution.
“In our quest as a nation to ensure that there is women empowerment, it is an oxymoron to have Shumba as the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Women Affairs, community, small to medium enterprises.
“It seems like there is no sincerity at all by the current government to promote gender balance in all organs of the state as enshrined in section 17 of the constitution of Zimbabwe,” said LEAD president Linda Masarira, in a statement signed by her spokesperson Everjoy Chidindi.
She said such appointments undermine and belittle women, who should actually constitute at least half the membership of all commissions and other elective and appointed governmental bodies established by or under this constitution or any Act of Parliament.
“We feel undermined and belittled as women by this appointment considering the structural deformities and systematic marginalization of women in governance issues since time immemorial.
“In line with Section 17(1)b (ii), women constitute at least half the membership of all commissions and other elective and appointed governmental bodies established by or under this constitution or any Act of Parliament.”
The LEAD president said the replacement of Dr Chitiga by a male counterpart, in a Ministry that tackles women’s issues, had the effect of undoing whatever small gains that had been achieved so far in addressing gender balance issues.
“The President (Mnangagwa) is obligated to defend, promote and uphold the Constitution of Zimbabwe by ensuring that values, national objectives and rights of women are protected and promoted…
“Replacing Rudo Chitiga by a male counterpart was more of forfeiting her duty and to ignore the pertinent and contentious issue of ensuring gender parity.”
Masarira further said the Constitution provides that there should be gender balance in the appointment of Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Cabinet.