Thursday, November 30, 2023

Equality in elections: So near yet so far

… As PWDs ask for percentage in proportional representation

Beverly Bizeki

As the country is drifting towards obtaining equal representation of various groups of people in the society as seen by implementation of women and youth quota in national assembly and women’s quota in local authorities, People with disabilities (PWDs) feel they were still not represented and called for the expansion of the quota system to accommodate them.
The call was made during a people’s assembly organized by Fighting Inequality Alliance (FIA) Zimbabwe in Masvingo on Monday September 18 where PWDs said there was need to make sure that they are represented within the women and youth quota systems through allocating a percentage for women with disabilities and youth with disabilities in the quota systems provided.
Disability Amalgamation Community Trust (DACT) Director Henry Chivhanga said inequalities were still existing in proportional representations as people with disabilities were not included and proposed that the electoral law be amended to ensure that parties allocate a certain percentage for people with disabilities within the youth and women’s quota.
“I believe there is need to have equality and equity within the proportional representations available, we need to have a segment that says every political party shall have 10 percent of women quota (for pwds) on the party list submitted to Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and failure to do that will attract a penalty, the carrot and stick system can help us achieve equality within the quota system within the women and quota and youth quota as well.
“In the national assembly, the electoral act must for instance in Masvingo province where there are 26 constituencies must have about three seats provided reserved for pwds which means political parties must sponsor pwds candidates in the required constituencies for there to be equality to make sure everyone is represented, ” said Chivhanga.
Cover Mugwadi from Masvingo also said there was need for the quota system to be implemented for pwds throughout other various sectors including accommodation and shopping malls.
“The quota system issues also include vendors in flea markets, shopping malls and council shops, there are no pwds renting in those spaces. People with disabilities are also often excluded when it comes to council flats and most are homeless yet if the quota system was being implemented they would get a place to stay,” said Mugwadi.
He further said there was also need for bill exemptions for pwds as some are not employed and yet are expected to pay council bills.
“Pwds are expected to foot their bills like any other person but are not given opportunities to work even in council,” said Mugwadi.
Prazen Jakata said there is still a gap in proportional representation as it does not include pwds.
“We were expecting to see women and youth with disabilities taking positions in proportional representations but we do not have such particularly here in Masvingo considering the length and breadth of the province as we have close to half of pwds living here,” said Jakata.

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