HARARE – Women on Wednesday staged a demonstration protesting the limited time allocated for voter registration.
Women’s Trust mobilised women’s organisations, women from political parties and churches to petition the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), Registrar General’s office, the Finance ministry and the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (Jomic) raising five key demands.
“The voter registration exercise must be conducted in a gender responsive manner, create separate queues for men and women, give first preference to pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, women with children and elderly women, give special attention to women with disabilities, set aside specific days for women only to register to vote,” said the petition.
The women also wanted Zec to facilitate de-centralised and more registration points in order to minimise distances travelled by women.
“The minister of Finance must avail adequate resources to ensure the registration process in gender responsive,” she said.
“The Registrar General must expedite service delivery at the registration points to minimise the time women spend waiting to be attended to. Jomic must supervise the above mentioned bodies and ensures that our demands are acted upon immediately.”
However, the RG Tobaiwa Mudede refused to accept the women’s petition arguing that everyone was treated equally at the registration centres.
“The Registrar General unfortunately did not take our petition,” Memory Kachambwa, director of Women’s Trust said.
“He actually indicated to us that everything is equal they treat everyone equally but from our standpoint as an institution and our analysis of equality we cannot say equality in inequality, so they might say that men and women are treated the same but we are not at the same playing level. Until we are at the same playing level then he can treat us the same.”
In a letter written in response to the women’s petition, Registrar General of voters said in terms of Section 35 (2) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment number (11), all Zimbabwean citizens are equal in the eyes of the law and therefore subject to equal treatment regardless of gender.
“However, administrative arrangements are already in place for senior citizens, pregnant women and disabled persons to get priority treatment when they turn up for any of our services,” said the letter.
“In view of the foregoing, there is no need for us to come and receive a petition.”
Luta Shaba, founder of Women’s Trust and board member, said: “The Registrar General’s office was of the opinion that they are a gender sensitive office and they do not treat anybody differently, this was actually a reflection of a lack of understanding of gender analysis in the registrar general’s office but be that as may be, yes we succeeded in the handing of the petitions to other organisations.”
Shaba said the petition was crafted as a result of complaints received from women around Zimbabwe.
“Their complaints were around waiting for hours in queues and being sent away without being registered, partisan nature of registration centres,” Shaba said.