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"HOLD THE GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABLE" -NEPAD ADVISOR GENDER PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS AND CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANISATION

The New Partnership for Africa Development (NEPAD) Planning and Coordinating Agency: Advisor for Gender Parliamentary Affairs and Civil Society Organisations, Ms Ndeye Rosalie Lo has applauded the new gender sensitive constitution of Zimbabwe.

 

Whilst addressing a four women delegation who are on an information sharing and solidarity mission, Advisor Rosalie Lo, on 15 May 2013, urged civil society organizations including women's groups to push government for the implementation of the provisions of the new constitution.

 

Addressing the delegation at the NEPAD offices in Midrand, South Africa, Advisor Rosalie Lo particularly stressed the need to set up of the Gender Commission and ensure harmonisation with the current electoral laws.

 

"This is a positive breakthrough that the new constitution of Zimbabwe has ensured gender parity and women's empowerment. However we need to be realistic and acknowledge that the biggest challenge that we have in Africa is implementation of the provisions of these constitutions. The big question is: what are the strategies for civil society organisations to ensure that the government and political parties respect the constitutional provisions and embrace its principles in government and their own political parties, € said Advisor Rosalie

 

Ms Rosalie Lo also pointed out that the onus was upon the gender groups and civil society organisations to ensure the implementation of the provisions in the constitution before elections. She called for civil society organisations to stand principled and hold the Government accountable to its promises.

 

The delegation's presentation focused on the election preparedness of Zimbabwe with concerns on the slow progress of the current mobile voter registration exercise, lack of resources, and violence among others.

 

The delegation asked NEPAD to urge the Government of Zimbabwe which is party to the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) protocol on gender and development to enable equal participation for both men and women in all electoral processes including the administration of elections and voting (Article 13).

 

Meanwhile, the Planning and Coordinating Agency's Senior Program Officer in the NEPAD Gender Desk,   Mr Wazir M Sanga who is also a Tanzanian national, met with the delegation and expressed concern over the possibility of regression on the part of Zimbabwe.

 

Mr Sanga however said he was hopeful that Tanzania will urge the government of   Zimbabwe to implement democratic reforms before the elections are held.

"We didn't expect some of the human rights violations to happen and it is always a cause for concern. However recently I talked to President of Tanzania Mr. Kikwete twice when he was in South Africa. He assured me that the elections will be peaceful free and fair, € said Mr Sanga.

 

Mr Sanga said that the SADC observers that were deployed during the referendum were few and that there is need to deploy more observers during the upcoming elections because the stakes are high.

 

The women delegation shared some of the initiatives that civil society and women groups were employing to promote women participation and empowerment, with campaigns such as the  recently launched Vote for a Woman Campaign that is being facilitated by the Women in Politics Support Unit (WiPSU).

 

The delegation also indicated some of the key challenges that they were facing such as lack of access to resources, intimidation and violence as well as the need to train women in communities to be conflict resolution ambassadors.

 

In concluding remarks, NEPAD urged the delegation not to miss the opportunity presented by the new constitution by urging the government to honour its promises. Advisor Rosalie Lo, committed to follow up on the issue of deploying observers' pre and post elections and link women's organisation with other networks in the region working on conflict intervention and mitigation.

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