Draft constitution is gender insensitive
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As the country awaits the draft constitution to come to its conclusion, there are clauses in the draft which meant for women to be given special treatment which cannot be the same with men.
Firstly there is a clause in it calling for a situation where the death penalty would not be applied to women. The clause prescribes death penalty only in aggravating circumstances of murder only to men not women.
The draft spares females from the death penalty by virtue of them being women.
Secondly the draft constitution is proposing the need for sixty (60) uncontested seats in parliament to be set aside for women.
Such clauses in the draft constitution which are advocating for preferential treatment of women at a time when the women organizations are calling for equal rights should be done away with.
Women organizations need to come out defending themselves from such shenanigans by men who are trying to put them in a position of second class citizenship scenarios.
It is my belief that women organizations should seek relevance in the country by coming out from their cocoon and voice their concerns that women cannot be second class citizens.
The issue here is not for women organizations to call for the death penalty to be applied on them, but it is for them to say that the law must not be applied differently.
Having a constitution which advocates for selection application of law, according to gender may complicate the whole process.
In all sectors of the economy or social interaction, there are no issues done according to gender. Women are doing whatever type of work that was a preserve of men. There is either no type of work or place, where you find a place for "men only".
So to get a constitution which can propose different application of law, according to gender is wrong.
Proposing sixty uncontested seats to be preserved for women is not appropriate as the country may get to a situation where parliament would be staffed with people who would be there to make money only.
Parliament is an august house which must not be used by people to make money but should have vibrant law makers. A parliamentarian must be in parliament as a competent man or woman chosen by the people.
Reserving parliamentary seats for women would not be proper for the country as that would breed laziness in women since they would not strive to work hard for the benefit of the country. They would sit back and relax, knowing that whatever they do would not matter as they would have already secured seats in parliament as a result of the constitution.
A parliamentarian has to be in parliament because of his/her being elected by the people who would have seen that it is necessary for him/her to represent them. If parliament becomes free for all there could be a problem as some members would just go there and sleep while the parliamentary sessions would be in progress.
Any country's constitution must not be made to create lazy individuals but it has to protect people from abuse and make them industrious through creating better environments to work hard.
Women should not be allowed to get free seats and they must not be spared from getting death sentences if ever they are found guilt of murdering any soul. The constitution must be fair in dealing with gender issues as all people are deemed equal despite gender differences.
If women are to get more seats in parliament, there has to be a situation where political parties agree that women contest each other in constituencies reserved for them.
Since Southern Africa Development Committee (SADC) has proposed that countries in the bloc should make it possible that by 2015, there should be 50/50 parliamentary gender representation political parties should agree that certain constituencies must be contested by women alone.
If that situation is agreed upon by political parties in the country, then women would be in parliament by being elected, and not by being pushed into the august house through the constitution
Making women contest each other would make it possible for them to be in parliament as true representative of the people and they would be able to work hard for them to get elected again in future.
Free seats are not good as there would be a tendency in parliament that those who make it through free seats may be stigmatized by those elected by the people.
In Tanzania women who came to parliament through dished-out seats are often heckled and told to sit down because they represent no constituency and the same can happen here. So the Tanzanian situation should be taken as a case study.
Zimbabweans should not fall into such a situation where free seats are reserved for women rendering their attendance in parliament useless as in Tanzania.
The constitution should be gender sensitive to make equal rights applicable to both males and females.
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Source: Mukachana Hanyani---Harare.
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