Independent Member of Parliament Temba Mliswa caused a storm in Parliament yesterday when he accused women Members of Parliament, especially those elected under the proportional representation quota, of doing nothing.
He said this during the debate on the welfare of war veterans whom he said were being neglected by the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front and should therefore ditch the party at the coming elections.
Mliswa said war veterans and those with disability must be given their own quota in Parliament just like women had been but the women elected under proportional representation were doing nothing.
There are currently 60 reserved seats for women in the House of Assembly elected under proportional representation- that is based on the number of votes each party has won.
“It was also good to see some war veterans standing in for elections. The issue of the elections in this country is very important and I want to touch on this in terms of the war veterans. This will also touch those living with disability, why can this country not have a quota for them because we have a quota for women, 60 women are in Parliament,” Mliswa said.
“Most of them do not do anything, the only thing that we have seen coming of them is having nice make up and nice wigs – so the proportional representation of 60 women Members of Parliament has actually made us lose money because if you now take stock of what they have done, most of them have done nothing.”
Several women legislators led by Tabitha Khumalo protested at Mliswa’s comments with Khumalo being forced to leave the House when she continued to protest against Mliswa’s remarks.
She also warned Mliswa that he was not going to be re-elected because women would not vote for him.
Jessie Majome said Mliswa’s remarks were not only unparliamentary but they reeked of contempt for women.
“In terms of our very own Standing Rules and Orders, Members of Parliament are required to debate issues and not make scurrilous and unjustified attacks on fellow members,” she said. “As female Members of Parliament, we have the privilege to be accorded our dignity and our respect. If Hon. Mliswa does not have any issues to debate, he must not take cheap shots at women and get popular mileage.”
Irene Zindi, who said she had raised the motion, said, as both a woman and a war veteran, she was disturbed by Mliswa’s comments. But she said her own party, ZANU-PF were the worst culprits for looking down upon women.
“When we talk of development we make equal contributions. What surprised me was that my party, ZANU-PF, is really the worst culprit. They are looking down upon the women and what is happening is if Hon. Mliswa continues debating, castigating women, he wants this to be perpetuated, the looking down of women, the denigrating of women.”
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