By James Muonwa l Mashonaland West Correspondent
ZANU PF is battling fierce strife within its Women’s League following exclusion of long-serving and supposedly deserving female cadres, who were disqualified from nomination as Proportional Representation (PR) councillors on basis they lack basic educational qualifications.
Sources who spoke to NewZimbabwe.com said over 100 sitting and aspiring councillors failed to secure the right to represent the party after “unfairly” contesting against men in recently-held primary elections.
When the affected coterie thought the PR quota for women would save them from political oblivion, the intellectual card was thrown “from nowhere”, thereby automatically disqualifying a huge chunk of aspirants.
Sitting Makonde Rural District councillor, Martha Paul, who sits in the party’s national gender committee, expressed dismay at the latest development.
“It’s really sad that after toiling to craft and present position paper after position paper to convince His Excellency to afford us equal seats in councils, this is how we are thanked, to say let the educated take up posts at the expense of those without five O’ Levels,” decried Paul, who was also affected by the move.
Paul confirmed to this publication she cherished another stint in council after losing to party provincial administration secretary, Misheck Nyarubero, who will stand as councillor on a Zanu PF ticket.
“Female politicians unfairly stood in primaries against powerful men and lost in those polls due to myriad factors. We unknowingly celebrated the timing of the women quota and all of a sudden we heard aspiring PR councillors must have five O’ Levels.
“More than 100 female aspiring councillors across the country are crying foul of this exclusion from contesting on the basis of educational qualifications.
“The women are disgruntled and have asked us to write petitions to the President for the unpopular party position to be reversed,” she added.
The disaffected Zanu PF female activists have a window to air their grievances before June 21 when Nomination Courts sit to receive curriculum vitae (CVs) of aspiring councillors, Members of Parliament and President.
Some incumbent legislators who failed to retain rights to represent Zanu PF in their respective constituencies are contesting women quota councillor posts across Mashonaland West, and have been blamed for shutting democratic space for “poor and downtrodden rural activists.”
These include Provincial Affairs Minister, Mary Mliswa-Chikoka, Hurungwe women’s quota lawmaker Goodluck Kwaramba, Sanyati Proportional Representation MP Josephine Shava and Mhangura MP Precious Chinhamo-Masango.
The novel women quota system is designed to increase the number of female politicians in the male-dominated lower-tier devolved government structure.
This publication gathered candidates were last Thursday ranked according to seniority and their CVs sent to provincial command for onward transmission to Zanu PF Headquarters in Harare for confirmation.
According to sources, an estimated 74 women’s quota councillor posts are up for grabs across Mashonaland West out of 185 CVs received from Zanu PF aspirants.
Most urban local authorities such as Chinhoyi, Kadoma and Chegutu with an average of 15 wards will have five women quota councillors while expansive rural district councils will have nine or more.