The Chronicle

Maclean Mutede

Zimbabwe’s new Constitution provides a strong legal framework for the promotion and attainment of gender equality and women’s empowerment. 

It is therefore, against this legal commitment that women are afforded equal opportunities in political, social and economic spheres in the country.

In achieving gender balance, the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has so far made strides and opened the window for women in various state institutions. 

This is a clear testimony that although there is still a sizeable number of women in key strategic decision-making positions, the President is willing to give them a chance to prove that they can match their male counterparts.

The President appointed Cde Oppah Chamu Zvipange Muchinguri-Kashiri as the first female Minister of Defence and War Veterans’ Affairs.

The Ministry is a very vital State institution with the fundamental role of safeguarding and defending the nation from both external and internal threats. The ministry also looks into the welfare of war veterans.

Having previously been with the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development, Cde Muchinguri-Kashiri has championed the participation of women in all spheres. 

Her vision is to see the inclusion of women in political, social and economic activities. 

Her journey in Government is a true reflection that women can also compete and compliment their male counterparts.

Cde Muchinguri-Kashiri pointed out that her appointment should not come as a surprise as the new Constitution speaks of the issue of gender equality.

“We have seen equality at play, women in decision- making positions and we performed equally like our brothers,” said Cde Muchinguri Kashiri.

She further noted that while it has taken long, the journey has been worthwhile as this has seen men appreciating that women are equal to the task. 

She commended President Mnangagwa for being bold in promoting gender equality so that women can participate either in politics or in decision making and in business.

In her new portfolio, she bemoaned the low participation of women and indicated that all women are looking up to her so that there is a gender balance in the ZDF.

She promised that she would take the task and ensure that women are accorded positions in decision making within the ZDF. 

With the minister it’s not only about equality but equity within the defence force. 

Her priority is for this male-dominated organisation to understand the value of the women in uniform and this should then extend to the civilian world.

The Zimbabwe Defence Forces has so far appointed four women to the rank of Brigadier General and Air Commodore respectively. More efforts are being made to equip women within the force with relevant skills and ensure that deserving candidates are promoted within the rank and file in the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.