WALPE Activity Update 03

i)Masvingo aspiring women leaders’ emphasis the need for women to support women

With the support from Diakonia Africa, the Women’s Academy for Political and Leadership Excellence (WALPE) conducted capacity building training in Transformative Feminist Leadership for 120 women in Masvingo rural.
Some of the topics covered during the trainings included political career development, introduction to public service and volunteerism, negotiation and consensus building skills, constituency outreach and voter mobilisation strategies, public speaking and mastering the art of convincing audiences and etiquette and confidence building.
The WALPE team imparted important knowledge on the need for unity as well as sexual and reproductive health rights and the different arms of Government, that is, The Executive, The Legislature and The Judiciary.
At the end of the training the aspiring women leaders were more knowledgeable on the importance and benefits of registering to vote and voting for a woman into a leadership position.
The WALPE team also noticed that the majority of residents from Mushawasha do not have identity documents. WALPE further encouraged the women to acquire their documents during the ongoing
national registration blitz currently going on across the country from 01 April-30 September 2022.
To boost the aspiring women leaders’ confidence to participate in the 2023 elections, WALPE also distributed IEC materials to the 120 participants.

ii) 26 March By-elections conducted successfully despite violent start

The country conducted by-elections for both National assembly and local government on 26 March with the Women’s Academy for Political and Leadership Excellence (WALPE) deploying observer teams to Harare, Kwekwe, Gokwe, Binga North, Mutasa and Chivi.
Observations by the teams were that most polling stations opened on time at 0700 and closed at 7pm, as prescribed at law.
Most polling stations were however taking note of voters personal documents before entering the polling station-a move they claimed was to contact trace in the event of a Covid-19 outbreak.
WALPE received reports of pre-election violence towards the run-up to the elections with cases of harassment, intimidation and cyber-bullying also being documented.
In Binga North, a ZANU PF senior party member had her house and car torched in intra-party violence and President Emmerson Mnangagwa had to intervene by pledging to purchase a new vehicle for her.
In Umzingwane, a Citizens Coalition for Change candidate for local government had to flee to the bush after her home was ambushed by ZANU PF youths. More cases of violence against women were also recorded on the eve of the by-elections with youths from unconfirmed political parties intimidating and harassing people and female opposition candidates in Highfield, Kwekwe and Mabvuku.
There were also observed partisan policing of election rallies with ZANU PF getting preferential treatment while the Citizens Coalition for Change had to constantly seek recourse from the courts of law to get permission to conduct their rallies.
After the elections, there were no reported cases of unrest within the communities with the
electorate noting that the by-elections were conducted in a transparent manner.

iii) Outstanding electoral reforms need to be addressed

Over the month of March, WALPE has been conducting dialogues with aspiring women leaders from Hopley and Gutu over outstanding electoral reforms.
More than 200 women were engaged during the dialogues with many of them expressing the need for equal representation.
Participants at the dialogues highlighted the need to have constituencies set aside for women to contest alone with men.
The women argued that Government should have 105 constituencies reserved solely for women as a way to advance gender equality.
“A total of 105 constituencies should be set aside for women to contest against each other without male interference. Sometimes women do not have adequate resources to go against men and that is why some women do not succeed in elections because the playing field is not equal,” Yvonne Bosha, a Hopley resident said during one of the dialogues.
The women also told WALPE that there was a need for equal access to media spaces as women were not being fairly treated. They argued that male candidates were the most to be covered in the media while women suffered very little to no airplay and coverage.
In Gutu, WALPE also engaged 21 women on outstanding electoral reforms and educated them on the benefits of having equal representation in positions of leadership.
…as more women register as first time voters
During the week ending March 14 2022, 8 more women were successfully assisted to register in Chitungwiza by WALPE. The 8 who were in the youth bracket, that is, 18-35 years-old age range were excited about being able to participate in future elections.
WALPE has been taking advantage of the Phase 2 mobile voter registration exercise currently underway countrywide from April 11 to April 30 2022, to assist virgin voters to get registered.
Since mobile voter registration started, WALPE has registered more than 260 women and young women to register in various parts of the country. The Academy has also been conscientising women on the benefits of registering to vote as well as voting for a fellow woman in upcoming elections.