Elita Chikwati, Harare Bureau
Gender and women’s rights organisations have hailed President Mnangagwa’s decision to increase the number of women in Cabinet as a positive development.
Members of the public also welcomed the increase in women representation in the Cabinet and said this showed that Zimbabwe was heading towards gender equality and equity in decision making positions.
Most women were happy that for the first time the Ministry of Defence and War Veterans and that of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation were now headed by women, Cde Oppah Muchinguri Kashiri and Ms Kirsty Coventry respectively.
Some organisations and individuals felt there was still more to be done to promote gender balance and full participation of women in all spheres of society on the basis of equality with men.
There are six female ministers in Cabinet up from the previous four, with five ministers of state compared to four previously.
Apart from Cde Muchinguri Kashiri and Ms Coventry, President Mnangagwa also appointed Cde Sekai Nzenza as Minister for Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Cde Monica Mutsvangwa — Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Cde Priscah Mupfumira — Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry and Cde Sithembiso Nyoni — Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development.
Of the nine Ministers of State announced by the President, five are women; Cde Judith Ncube for Bulawayo, Cde Mary Mliswa — Mashonaland West, Cde Apollonia Munzverengi — Mashonaland East, Cde Monica Mavhunga — Mashonaland Central and Cde Ellen Gwaradzimba — Manicaland.
The Minister of State in the Office of Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, Cde Evelyn Ndlovu, is also a woman and so is Youth, Sport Arts and Recreation Deputy Minister, Cde Yeukai Simbanegavi.
The Zimbabwe Gender Commission (ZGC) said it appreciated the appointment of women into Cabinet.
ZGC chairperson Mrs Margaret Mukahanana-Sangarwe said parity was achieved in the provincial ministerial posts.
“Zimbabwe Gender Commission appreciates the increase in numbers of women in Cabinet and the parity that is already guaranteed among the provincial ministers, but we still feel the representation of women is still low and we hope that more women will be appointed in future,” she said.
On Twitter, the Gender and Media Connect Zimbabwe said it was happy that women got influential posts.
“Of the 20 Cabinet ministers announced in #Zimbabwe today following the July 30 election, six are women,” it said. “Great improvement from last Cabinet. Key ministries, Defence and Information have women ministers.”
Gender activist, businesswoman and director for Tag a Life Ms Nyaradzo Mashayamombe said she was excited mainly by the appointment of Cde Muchinguri-Kashiri as Minister of Defence and War Veterans and also the increase in the number of female Ministers of State.
“I am excited that for the first time we have a female Minister of Defence,” she said. “We are celebrating the appointment of women to the ministerial posts.
“We feel there is still more to be done to ensure 50-50 percent representation. Women should also be appointed to higher posts such as the Vice President considering that they constitute 52 percent of the population.”
MDC politician, Ms Jessie Majome congratulated President Mnangagwa on his new Cabinet on her Twitter account.
“Congratulations @edmnangagwa & to the new Cabinet, refreshingly new, competent faces, it’s encouraging to see women increasing & some powerful ministries though not yet uhuru. My optimism for Zimbabwe has been given a shot in the arm. Fulfil this citizen’s great expectations.”
MDC-T spokesperson Ms Linda Masarira posted on Twitter that she was impressed by the new youthful faces in the Cabinet.
A Harare woman, Mrs Alice Moyo said she was happy that Ms Coventry landed a ministerial post.
“This is a good move considering that she was appointed on merit and not on political grounds,” she said.