Masarira blasts cultist politics, urges poll reforms, women upliftment

By Nkosana Dlamini

Opposition LEAD president Linda Masarira has urged the abandonment of the first-past-the-post system of electing leaders in favour of the proportional representation structure that will increase women representation in positions of power in the country.

Masarira was speaking in a wide-ranging interview with Alpha Media journalist Blessed Mhlanga recently.

Zimbabwe marks International Women’s Day this Friday with celebrations around the theme “invest in women, accelerate progress”.

A fierce campaigner for gender equality, Masarira said it was time the country abandoned “politics of populism” which has often created cultist male leaders and further entrenched chauvinistic tendencies around leadership to the detriment of women’s aspiration.

“We need to push for gender equality to become a reality in this country,” said the politician and activist, who added, “I am against this notion of saying democracy is along the lines of populism.”

Zimbabwe’s current political set-up has produced powerful male leaders wielding political and financial muscle to aid their campaigns at the expense of less resourced women.

Masarira urged political reforms.

“We need to replace the first-past-the-post Westminster electoral system that we are using to elect MPs and councillors and adopt the proportional representation, zebra list system which we are using to elect senators.

“If you look at our senators, there is a near balance of genders save for the fact that we have chiefs that then come in and we hardly have women chiefs in this country.

“So, what is really appalling is that we already use the PR Zebra list to elect senators but then there is a lot of politicking that comes around having an electoral reform to move over this hybrid system we adopted from the (Ian, former Rhodesian leader) Smith regime and bring the PR zebra list which will ensure that the constitution of Zimbabwe is respected.

“So, we have got a lot of to do and we need to stop the politicking.”

Turning to other matters, Masarira rallied opposition calls for substantive political reforms as opposed to limiting it to an election agenda.

She also decried the whipping system often used by parties when matters of national importance are brought to parliament.

The outspoken politician felt the system restricted the quality of debate to partisan interest as opposed to issues of substance.

Masarira also said the country’s judiciary has failed to protect the country’s constitution in matters involving the political interests of the ruling elite. She also called for legal reforms.

She said the opposition currently occupying seats in parliament was pursuing more of petty issues as opposed to substantive ones which deepen constitutionalism.

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