Participation But No Voice: A Preliminary Report on Proportional Representation
This is the first in a series of papers on Proportional Representation (PR) and the quota system in Zimbabwe, and a follow up on an initial paper published by RAU(Matyszak. 2013) on the confusion about Proportional Representation. Whilst RAU recognises that citizen participation is generally the key to holding duty bearers accountable, it also acknowledges the integral role of women and youth, despite the fact that their voices continue to be marginalised.
The reasons vary but the attitudes about women and youth have to change given that these two groups constitute the largest sections in our population: women are 52% of the total populations according to the 2012 census, whilst youth, those under 35 years, are 67.8%, an enormous “youth bulge”. Full participation of citizens is at the cornerstone of democracy and this can never be achieved if one dominant section of the population continues to speak on behalf of others. This paper adds voice to this conversation and explores why efforts to increase women participation in public spaces in Zimbabwe continue to suffer a still-birth where the argument is twisted to blame the same women for not taking the ‘opportunities’ availed. Whilst there might be problems of slow uptake, it is the principle of nothing for us without us that must motivate political systems to ensure that women fully participate in all structures of society, and this should also be reflected in the political parties.