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Manicaland Post Election Era : Women In Rural Areas Victims Of Information Gap & Disinformation

Branton Matondo

The 2023 general elections might have been wrapped but one of the main issues that remain hanging is the dynamics of politics in rural areas and how women in those remote areas have become victims of information rifts, disinformation and hate speech.

The talk of empowering women to participate in politics heightens from local government post to presidential post.

The popular adage in the local political framework has always labeled women as cheer leaders who play second citizen role who have to play second fiddle to a system that has been labeled by popular political commentators like Ibbo Mandaza as ‘patriachal’.

To get better perspectives of women participation in dynamics of politics in rural areas and how women are in this year’s political sector Post On Sunday got in touch with women in small and medium businesses in Honde Valley.

A young woman identified as Faith told Post On Sunday that though women in the rural setup have exercised their vote there is a huge information gap when it comes to what the women expect from elected MP’s.

“Yes, we voted well in this year’s election but the major challenge now is that we are not aware of what members of parliment are supposed to interact with us because at the end of the day it affects us. Our deepest concerns are not addressed because there is no interface between us and those elected.”

voters looking for their names on the voters’ roll on election day in Manicaland. Pic by Shingirai Vambe

In respect of parliamentary sessions and feedback meetings which are key in enlightening the general public by duty bearers, especially when you are new in office Faith said she is not aware of the latter though she usually comes across information pertaining to parliamentary sessions.

“Yes, l can say that l am aware of parliament sessions but on issue of feedback meetings and parliament portfolio committees l can say, representing other young women here in Honde Valley that we are not aware of that. I think people in such areas are not well equipped with enough information of what to expect.”

In respect of the 2023 general elections held on the running 23rd – and 24th of August saw 70 female candidates run for National Assembly posts while 637 male candidates ran for 210 constituencies across Zimbabwe’s 10 provinces.

According to Election Resource Center (ERC), an independent election research organisation the turn out of women for this year’s national assembly electoral run downsized by 3 % from 14% in the 2018 electoral run.

In recognition of the stats another woman from Hauna identified as Memory (in the fear of identity exposure) said the few women that participate in politics in rural setups do not support each other.

“Besides the political setup being dominated by men, that is patriarchy women do not support each. The moment that you start to support each other we will see a lot of women taking posts in key political positions. The more women we have, the better the change because women are known to be good leaders.”

Quizzed on whether there has been cases of hate speech on women in politics in Honde Valley she confirmed having come across cases where female candidates were being labeled as ‘hure’ by fellow women.

Post On Sunday caught up Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) Manicaland Provincial representative and seasoned election commentator David Mutambirwa to get his perspective on the reason behind reports of information scarcity in the post election era.

Mutambirwa slated the blame on media when it comes to the exposure of issues that bar women from participating in politics in respect of the just ended 23 August elections and the worrying state of information scarcity.

“The media didn’t adequately cover women ‘s challenges during pre, during and after the  harmonized elections. There are a lot of barriers and challenges which were missed by the media in discharging their duties of informing, the public on the issues affecting women candidates, voters and supporters. The failure to propagate the struggles faced by women may deter women  participation in future elections.”