Ruth Butaumocho Gender Editor
The ongoing sexual vilification of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) chairwoman, Justice Priscilla Chigumba, on social media by MDC-Alliance and its henchmen is a sad development and bad trajectory that demeans women to mere sex objects.
Micro-blogger and political turncoat Edmund Kudzayi came out guns blazing on Tuesday in fierce personal attack on Justice Chigumba, accusing her of being romantically linked to one of the Presidential contestants in the forthcoming elections.
“Chigumba must resign from her position at ZEC. While her privacy must be ordinarily respected, there is a strong public interest argument in this instance where a private sexual relationship fetters the discretion of a judge.
“I will publish the full story (on these allegations) on Wednesday,” wrote Kudzayi on micro-blogging site Twitter.
While many may want to treat Kudzayi’s outburst as that of a merely angry, disillusioned, moribund and fickle political activist, there is a serious underhand of the MDC-Alliance, which has not distanced itself from the scurrilous allegations from Kudzayi, a newly converted staunch MDC-Alliance supporter, despite a public outcry over such misogyny.
Many people do not appear to be surprised by MDC-Alliance’s deafening silence over the issue, because the party has already shown a natural dislike for powerful and intelligent women opposed to the thinking of its leadership.
Their disdain for women is historical and abrasive, something they have never made a point of hiding, from the time they publicly humiliated Gogo Tsvangirai, when she was mourning her son, the late Morgan Tsvangirai, to this day, where women have become political fodder within the alliance, through ludicrous sexist jibes.
Many will remember how MDC-Alliance youths harangued MDC-T’s leader Ms Thokozani Khupe after a High Court session by calling her a prostitute, almost manhandling her as she left the court.
Nelson Chamisa’s fight with Dr Khupe over the leadership of MDC-T, which resulted in her being assaulted by youths at Humanikwa Vilage during Morgan Tsvangirai’s burial, clearly shows that MDC-Alliance leader is contemptuous of women in general, and female leadership in his party in particular. He does not regard women as an important constituency within politics.
MDC-Alliance’s disdain for female members of the party and any woman for that matter is also seen in the manner they hounded out former National Assembly member for Harare West Jessie Majome from contesting in the constituency, calling her an “old cow” fit only to go to the village to herd goats.
The same Chamisa had no shame in pledging to offer his 18-year-old sister as wife if President Mnangagwa won the elections.
The MDC-Alliance’s abuse of women, particularly Justice Chigumba, is not surprising from a political leadership which has a fixation with women’s physical attributes rather than their ingenuity.
Strangely, women’s groups have gone into hiding, hoping for droppings from the political high table should we be unfortunate to have such a party win the elections.
The nation has every reason to worry in this day and age that we still have in our midst political parties that promote and perpetuate the objectification of women, instead of acknowledging their contribution towards national development.
It boggles the mind how they will treat women once they are elected into power if they are failing at this stage to acknowledge them as equal beings whose contribution cannot be ignored.
Would Justice Chigumba’s treatment be different had she been a man?
When Justice Chigumba was appointed, it was in fulfilment of a Constitutional requirement, replacing Justice Rita Makarau, who resigned in December last year.
Her appointment was borne out of the need to ensure gender equality across public offices, based on competence, not on her looks nor her private life.
When she was appointed into office, with the full involvement of Chamisa, neither the MDC-Alliance partners nor any political party objected.
Her personal life, which is outside the jurisdiction of her constitutional mandate, was never a matter of public conjecture and should remain as such.
Even today, Justice Chigumba’s private life is not an electoral matter to generate so much interest at a time when the whole nation is focused on the forthcoming elections.
With only a few days to go before elections, MDC-Alliance’s bone of contention with Justice Chigumba should be confined to the BVR, security of ballot and all sensitive election materials, assuming that such things were not addressed, instead of focusing on her sexual life, which people have no proof and is not a crime.
MDC-Alliance long lost relevance and is hitting new lows by moving into misogynistic and unhelpful characterisation of women.
But of course one can understand the level of malice when the vilification is coming from a guy like Kudzayi, who has a history of peddling falsehoods.
Many will remember how Kudzayi a few years ago, when he ran a website called the African Aristocrat, lied that Mrs Bona Mugabe-Chikoore was raped in Hong Kong.
Still smarting from the big lie, Kudzayi has the audacity to drag Justice Chigumba in the mud by alleging that she is romantically linked to one of the Presidential contestants in the forthcoming election, as if that were one of the prohibitions for appointment.
Parties should desist from name calling any appointment accorded to women and instead focus on their capabilities.
For a political party to believe that years of democratic struggle for the rights of women, which included having to deal with stereotypes around sex, sexuality and objectification to be reduced to name calling in an electoral season is regrettable.
The MDC-Alliance leader has failed to demonstrate maturity in handling sensitive and serious matters in his campaigns, including upholding and respecting high offices like ZEC.