President swears in gender commissioners

Felex Share Senior Reporter
President Mugabe yesterday swore in nine members of the Zimbabwe Gender Commission that will monitor issues of gender equality and investigate possible violations of gender rights. Two commissioners for the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission were also sworn in by the President at a ceremony held at State House.

Veteran civil servant and former permanent secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Mrs Margaret Sangarwo-Mukahanana, chairs the Gender Commission. The members of the Gender Commission were appointed in June in terms of Section 245 of the Constitution.

Eight other members are Messrs Peter Mawonera (Chief Chikwizo), Obert Matshalaga, Victor Nkiwane, Dr Paul Kadzima, Dr Nyepudzayi Nyangulu, Mrs Sibongile Mauye, Mrs Tsungirirai Hungwe and Mrs Naomi Chimbetete. In terms of Section 238, Mr Qhubani Moyo and Mr Emmanuel Magade, who is the executive dean in the Faculty of Law at the University of Zimbabwe, were appointed as Zec commissioners.

They replaced Professor Geoff Feltoe and Mkhululi Nyathi, who resigned in 2013. Speaking after the swearing in ceremony, Zec chairperson, Justice Rita Makarau, said: “We are once again a complete commission and they are coming in at an opportune time when we are starting voter registration exercise. We welcome them on board.”

Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development Minister Nyasha Chikwinya said the Gender Commission was an “instrument” that would unveil all the mystery surrounding gender issues. “This is a long overdue achievement for the people of Zimbabwe,” she said. “We are hazy to the people on the issues of gender and there was nobody who could really come and say what gender mainstreaming is and what importance it has to the Zimbabwean women and the general populace. This is the team elected by the President to do exactly that. They are going to sit down and come up with exactly what they want to ensure that whatever comes up from their commission is taken on board at legislation and administration level.”

According to Section 246 of the Constitution, functions of the Gender Commission include receiving and considering complaints from the public and taking action as the commission considers appropriate.

“The Zimbabwe Gender Commission can conduct research into issues relating to gender and social justice and to recommend changes to laws and practices which lead to discrimination based on gender,” reads the Constitution. “It can recommend affirmative action programmes to achieve gender equality and recommend prosecution for criminal violations of rights relating to gender.”

The commission can also secure appropriate redress where gender rights have been violated. It will also help in conducting research on gender justice and recommend changes to laws and practices of gender discrimination.