John Mpofu


There has been a lot of rhetoric in the Southern African countries on the need to politically empower women although this has not really translated into substantial action. The current constitutions in Zimbabwe and South Africa do not provide any quota for women representation in politics. For example, women representation in the House of Assembly has fluctuated from one election year to the other since Zimbabwe attained independence in 1980. However, a new constitution appears to take critical steps towards enhancing gender equality in politics by proposing the allocation of 60 “affirmative action” seats for women for the first two terms after the new constitution is adopted. The 60 female MPs would add to the 210 parliamentary seats and the 88 senate seats that the country currently has. While this creates opportunities for more women to enter politics, the level of participation by the women proposed in the new Zimbabwean constitution still falls short of the benchmarks set by several local, regional and international policy frameworks that promote and support women’s extensive participation in politics. Thirty five years after the first multi-racial elections brought democracy to Zimbabwe ended the colonial government, the news media, as well as other social institutions, are still in the process of transformation. The news media have a particularly important role to play in a country where political participation is a new experience for many people. Media in Zimbabwe also faces the challenge of ensuring equal and fair representation of the entire population. Gender and media activists, in particular, have taken up the challenge of bringing about change in the media. This paper provides an overview of the current Zimbabwe media landscape with a particular focus on women in the media and politics. The first section presents background information about Zimbabwean women’s position in society. 


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