Opposition MDC-T leader Thokozani Khupe says she was shocked that women were seeking her assistance on various matters when they did not vote her in the July 30 presidential elections in which a victory would have placed her in a better position to give them a helping hand.

She told the Gender Commission Forum held in Bulawayo last week that after opting not to vote for her and other female candidates, the women were now seeking her support.

“We had four female presidential candidates, but women completely refused to vote for women as presidential candidates. Only 25 women were elected out of the 210 candidates for Parliament. Women refused to send 105 women into that Parliament,” she said.

“Women refused to send (fellow) women to the local authorities and only 13% women were elected into the local authorities. But women are the first ones to say we are being marginalised, we are being discriminated. The President (Emmerson Mnangagwa) has appointed six women ministers and where did you expect the President to appoint those women from when you failed to send 105 women into that Parliament?”

She said if 105 female candidates had been voted into Parliament, President Emmerson Mnangagwa would have had no justification for appointing less than 50% of women in the government.

Khupe described women as their own enemies because all the female candidates who contested as MPs, councillors and presidents lost because very few women voted for them.

“So, what I would like to urge our women and men in politics for 2023 is that, women, you have the power in your hands to achieve the 50/50 gender priority and let us use it,” she said. She urged the Gender Commission, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and women’s organisations to start pushing dialogue and get women to vote for their own.

“Let’s go to all the 1 958 wards, all the 210 constituencies and the 10 provinces and have a serious conversation with the women on the importance of voting for other women. What happens is that the Gender Commission and other women’s organisations only start to run when it is six months down the line towards elections, and it will be too late,” she said.

Addressing the same meeting, MDC Alliance chairperson Thabitha Khumalo said those aspiring to contest in the next elections should start campaigning immediately.

“From the day the elections ended, I started campaigning for the next election. So whoever wants to be a candidate must start now and come 2023, you are just icing the cake. It becomes easier and it’s more equitable and your penetration even becomes greater,” she said.

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