After a long wait, nearly forty days to be exact the new Zimbabwe cabinet was revealed. Since the July 31st elections there was an excruciating wait to find out who would be the named ministers. I eagerly awaited the announcement, appointing and reshuffling ministers in my head every day. I must say this was a tedious task which got me confused, angry, frustrated and happy at the same time. In all my appointed cabinet one thing was apparent - there where many more women in powerful decision making positions. With a woman vice president the rest seemed like herstory. What was left was the official announcement but everything else was in place. Zimbabwe was going to make history and become an example of gender equality. I started penning a victory speech for all the women.
The news hit my ears like a stray bullet, my heart staggered and I fell to my knees (in my heart). I was bleeding profusely. I felt my heart shattering, someone was roasting me, and I was sweating. Then I came back to reality. To the cause of my present affliction and the process was repeated. It was true the cabinet had been announced and only three women had made it. It was a big blow to my high hopes for better representation. Had I not a few months ago voted for a new constitution and had it meant … what had it meant, by the way? More women in the house of assemblies but hey! that’s what we wanted isn’t it? Well, shouldn’t I be happy? I couldn’t be happy, once again women had been side lined and once again those who got in had the soft ministries -i.e. gender and community development, higher and tertiary education and small to medium enterprises. This just confirmed and furthered gender stereotypes. Was it that the women cannot contribute and be successful (seeing how the men have failed time and time again) in more challenging ministries? We have once again been relegated to the kitchen and given caring roles even in government. I had hoped to see women demonstrating how a country should be run-women style but was faced with another man run government. For the first time I was confident of a good ending and gender healing, reconciliation and restoration. Sexual offenders would get their due in court, more women empowered, more educated women, no hunger and malnutrition, zero poverty tolerance, revised inheritance laws, better family planning, employment, better environmental awareness and generally better country.
Will the women deliver? Definitely but as the women of Zimbabwe we shall continue demanding equal recognition and parity in cabinet so that our voices can be heard in all issues of governance.