Lloyd Gumbo Herald Reporter
MORE seats could be created in the House of Assembly after harmonised elections this year through proportional representation to accommodate more women as prescribed by the Sadc Gender and Development Protocol.
Parties in the inclusive Government have suggested that the seats be increased from the current 210 to between 250 and 300.
The 210 seats will be contested, while the remainder will be allocated to individuals.
Copac says regulations to form the new seats will created through an Act of Parliament.
In the draft Constitution, parties are yet to agree on the number of extra seats to be created.
It is understood that Zanu-PF has suggested 90 more seats, while MDC wants 70 and MDC-T 40.
The intention is to create more seats for female legislators.
The Senate will be constituted in a manner that reflects the composition of the lower House in terms of political party representation.
“We have not yet provided numbers but have put a principle that there must be 50 percent women parliamentarians and 50 percent male parliamentarians,” said Copac Co-chairperson Mr Douglas Mwonzora (MDC-T).
“The principle of gender equity has been constitutionally provided, but can only be practically attained legislatively,” he said.
He said there was need for more seats because gender equity could not be achieved because of other factors.
Parties, Mr Mwonzora said, might meet the 50-50 representation, but that was likely to be affected by independent candidates.
“In the Senate, chiefs are male, which shows that although parties may fill the 50-50 requirement, the presence of chiefs may nullify that composition.
“In the Lower House, political parties may fill the 50 percent requirement, but there could be independent candidates whom the political parties can’t control,” Mr Mwonzora said.
Copac, he said, was more interested in achieving gender equality.
He said women have not formally demanded a specific number of seats.
“We can still achieve gender equality with 10 people or 300 people. Copac is more interested in the 50-50 principle.
“We know that women in various political parties are talking of different numbers, but Copac hasn’t received any figure from women.
“We are, however, knowledgeable that the numbers we have from political parties are from women,” he said.
Mr Mwonzora said the extra seats will have to be shared among interest groups.
Copac vice co-chairperson Cde Monica Mutsvangwa (Zanu-PF) said once endorsed in the Constitution, all parties will be obliged to comply with the 50-50 representation.
“We expect all political parties to respect the 50-50 representation by providing lists with more women because the idea behind proportional representation is to increase the number of women in Parliament,” she said.
“Once the principle has been accepted, everyone will be under the Constitution whether it’s private companies or political parties.
“Obviously, parties will come up with a democratic way of achieving this.”
However, University of Zimbabwe law lecturer Professor Lovemore Madhuku said the need to achieve gender equality did not warrant an increase in the number of legislators.
He said 50-50 representation would have still been achieved by reducing the number of constituencies.
Zimbabwe, he said, already has a bloated Parliament, adding that 150 Parliamentary seats would be ideal.
Prof Madhuku said ideally, 100 seats should be contested while 50 should be proportionally representative.
“It’s total madness . . . This is just a trick by politicians who are pursuing a self-serving agenda by increasing the number of corrupt elements as evidenced by what we have seen so far.
“Fortunately for the country, this is going to be rejected by the people on such grounds,” he said.
Zimbabwe, Prof Madhuku said, did not have enough resources to cater for a bloated Parliament.
Zimbabwe’s geographical area, he said, had not increased to warrant an increase in the number of legislators.
He said Zimbabwe had some small constituencies that could be compressed.