……...hope abounds for amplification of women issues
By Delicious Mathuthu
Gweru women are upbeat over the recent election of a female Deputy Mayor for the city with the belief that women’s issues, mostly to do with service delivery, will be amplified.
Ward 9 Councilor, Nyaradzo Madzikura, took Gweru by surprise when she was elected to the Deputy Mayor’s position, a first in the city, on the 22nd of September.
Several women, women organisations and local civil society organisations have expressed hope that the newly elected Deputy Mayor will amplify challenges bedevilling the city which have left women and young girls burdened and vulnerable.
Midlands State University (MSU) Lecturer and Centre for Public Policy and Devolution Co-ordinator, Mrs Virginia Makanza, told Community Voices Zimbabwe (CVZ) that most service delivery issues affect women the most. She explored the gendered dimensions of poverty and service delivery.
She said as a woman, she made a silent prayer prior to the city Mayoral elections that at least a woman occupy any of the top two positions in the council chambers which were up for grabs.
“I was saying to myself, I hope even if they elect a male (for Mayor) they will elect a female as well, and we are excited that it happened. It also shows that we now have confidence that women have the leadership qualities that men have; so it’s a step in the right direction,” she said.
Mrs Makanza said the Deputy Mayor and her female counterparts should unite and make enough noise to ensure that women’s issues are heard and addressed as women bear the brunt of failed social services by the local authority.
“In terms of service delivery, you know the issues that affect Gweru City Council are related to social services, and social services are the responsibility of women.
“If someone is sick, it is the woman that looks after that sick person, if there is no water it is the woman who goes to the borehole to fetch water.
“We hope they make enough noise to address these issues so that women’s rights, not only that because water is not only a women’s right but a human right for everyone; so we hope these issues will be addressed,” Mrs. Makanza said.
On a positive note on women and governance, she said the increase in the number of women at Gweru City Council is progressive and a sign that women now believe in each other.
“In terms of women’s representation in Gweru City Council, we are excited to have nine women this time instead of one in the last term, and two in the other term. This is a big improvement and it also shows that now women appreciate other women because there has always been this issue of women not voting for other women, and I think that huddle is being addressed, and hope in the next council we will even have more women than men,” Mrs Makanza said.
She also said there is a need for a deliberate effort by the local authority and central government to adequately capacitate the elected female councilors so that they effectively execute their duties.
Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ) Politics and Decision Making Gweru Cluster Chairperson, Jennifer Chimange, said Councilor Madzikura’s achievement was long overdue and grateful that she will be among the top decision-makers in the city, especially on service delivery.
“We have been waiting for this for quite a long time, I am sure this is our first time here in Gweru having a female Deputy Mayor. Isu semadzimai tirikufara kuti tave ne representative yedu ku (As women are happy that we now have our representative in the) decision-making body.
“Imagine we have a Deputy Mayor, meaning to say she will be there where the Mayor will be planning service delivery issues for the city of Gweru,” she said.
Women rights activist, Nozipho Rutsate said there is a need to create strong ties with the new women councilors so that they improve service delivery and implement progressive policies that improve the lives of women.
“We are so proud as women’s movements and we want to build a new relationship with the new office bearers. We want services that are accessible, we want improved service delivery and we want to build a strong relationship with them.
“We also want strong representation (of women) and policies that uplift women,” she said.
Deputy Mayor Madzikura said she would be always available to address women’s concerns and service delivery issues. She said the office of the Deputy Mayor will have a bias towards women’s empowerment.
“I will ensure that women get first preference on issues like stands allocations in the city and look for resources so that the city’s women can do projects.
“We will revive recreational facilities, mukatarisa ma youth mazhinji variku madrugs, tikatarisisa (if you look at it, most youths are into drugs, if you closely look at it) it’s not really their fault kuti varikuita zvema drugs (that they are doing drugs) but when I look at it inyaya yekuti vazhinji havana chekuita (the issue is most of them have nothing to do). We also have a problem of prostitution due to this,” she said.
“As City of Gweru we will also work hand in hand with CSOs (Civil Society Organisations), to advance democratic and developmental concerns of women,” she added.
In her inauguration speech, Deputy Mayor Madzikura promised to be professional and fair in executing her duties as Deputy Mayor to ensure the city gets quality services. She promised to assist in building sustainable relationships between the council and all stakeholders in the city.
“I will be guided by no other principles other than effectiveness, fairness, impartiality, and honesty. Our relationship with the residents of Gweru will be therefore that of mutual understanding, respect, trust, and harmony. We will always be responsive, transparent, and accountable and act in good faith to ensure there is the notion of goodwill as servants.
We will endeavor to strengthen the understanding of goodwill between councilors and its stakeholders.
It is our objective to realise the vision of a sustainable prosperous city of choice by 2030, and we will always be guided by this mission to provide quality services to residents, clients, and stakeholders. This can only be obtained through the provision of cost-effective services to the residents of Gweru,” Deputy Mayor Madzikura said.