Muchinguri in driver’s seat


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Minister of Women’s Affairs Oppah Muchinguri assumed the driver’s seat in implementing the Domestic Violence Act when it was passed by parliament in 2007 but at the same time recognised that the process would not work without civil society’s engagement.

She however faced an uphill struggle because her ministry only received a paltry 0.5 percent of the national budget.

Muchinguri had set up “gender units” in every ministry through her own initiative and women’s groups had welcomed her role in advancing women’s rights.

The Domestic Violence Act criminalised domestic violence and protected victims of domestic abuse.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 07HARARE532, GEARING UP TO IMPLEMENT NEW DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ACT

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

07HARARE532

2007-06-15 10:22

2011-08-30 01:44

UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

Embassy Harare

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INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 1628

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000532

 

SIPDIS

 

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR S. HILL

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B. PITTMAN

STATE PASS TO USAID FOR L.DOBBINS AND E.LOKEN

TREASURY FOR J. RALYEA AND T.RAND

COMMERCE FOR BECKY ERKUL

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

EB/EX GALE GRAY, DENNIS WINSTEAD

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: KWMN PHUM PGOV ZI

SUBJECT: GEARING UP TO IMPLEMENT NEW DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ACT

 

 

——-

Summary

——-

 

1. (SBU) After years of debate and controversy, Parliament

in February passed the Domestic Violence Act which

criminalizes domestic violence and protects victims of

domestic abuse. While President Mugabe has yet to set the

date for the Act to become law, the Ministry of Women’s

Affairs and local women’s groups have begun to map out its

implementation. The Act is viewed as a milestone by women’s

organizations. Nevertheless, they acknowledge that Zimbabwe

still has a long way to go toward achieving gender equality.

End Summary.

 

————————————-

Domestic Violence Act Finally Reality

————————————-

 

2. (U) In 2005, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs formed a

Legal Experts Committee to draft a Domestic Violence Act to

help prevent domestic violence and protect victims of

domestic abuse. Last year the draft bill was presented to

the Cabinet’s all-male Committee on Legislation. Zimbabwe

Women’s Lawyers Association (ZWLA) Director Emilia Muchawa

described to pol assistant the challenge of presenting the

bill to the Committee and how it had impressed upon her the

need to have female lawyers in the GOZ Cabinet and in the

lower house in Parliament. She said one Minister on the

Committee, for example, had warned his colleagues that “if we

are not careful, all men will be arrested.” Nonetheless, the

Cabinet approved the bill and sent it to Parliament, where it

met resistance, in particular, from traditional Chiefs and

some opposition MPs. MDC MP Timothy Mubhawu made headlines

when he decried the Act as “against God’s will.” Women’s

groups responded in protest and the bill eventually passed

Parliament and was signed by President Mugabe. He has not

yet set a date for the Act to become law.

 

——————————————— —-

Women’s Ministry, Gender Groups Eager To Kick Off

——————————————— —-

 

3. (SBU) Having lobbied hard for passage of the Act, the

Ministry of Women’s Affairs and several gender-rights NGOs

have continued close consultations to ensure the Act is fully

implemented. They recognize that previous social

legislation, such as the Sexual Offences Act, failed to

affect behavior due to inadequate planning and training ) an

outcome they are determined to prevent in this instance.

Most recently, the gender-based groups gathered in May at a

coordination meeting organized by the Ministry and the United

Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA). The meeting

included representatives from the Ministry of Justice, the

Attorney General’s Office, the Chief’s Council, the police,

victim-friendly courts, and civil society. Muchawa told pol

assistant that the Ministry of Justice was finalizing

enabling regulations and that the Ministry of Women’s Affairs

recognized the need to task different gender groups with

implementing various parts of the legislation. For instance,

ZWLA was tasked to train magistrates, clerks of court,

 

HARARE 00000532 002 OF 002

 

 

Chiefs, and the police to understand domestic violence

better. Other NGOs had conducted studies to determine the

extent of the problem in Zimbabwe.

 

4. (SBU) Minister of Women’s Affairs Oppah Muchinguri has

assumed the driver’s seat in implementation of the Act and,

so far, is working well with civil society. Zimbabwe Women’s

Resource Centre Director Dorothy Adebanjo told us that

Muchinguri recognized that the process would not work without

civil society’s engagement. The women,s groups, however,

still faced challenges, including inadequate resources. The

Ministry of Women’s Affairs currently receives a paltry 0.5

percent of the national budget despite calls to allocate more

resources to gender and equality issues. Through her own

initiative, Muchinguri has set up “gender units” in every

Ministry and women’s groups have welcomed her role in

advancing women’s rights.

 

——-

Comment

——-

 

5. (SBU) The passage and implementation of the Domestic

Violence Act is a long overdue and important step for efforts

to curb domestic violence. Nonetheless, domestic abuse is

deeply rooted in Zimbabwe. Its eradication will ultimately

require a cultural shift and the benefit of economic

recovery. The Act’s passage shows that Zimbabwe’s women’s

movement continues to gain political clout, especially those

segments that have aligned themselves with Muchinguri. She

has emerged as a key player and, some say, vice-presidential

contender within ZANU-PF. Her close connection with the

ruling party, however, has alienated some gender groups that

do not want to become tainted by the Mugabe regime.

Meanwhile, the MDC continues to be caught flat footed ) or

even wrong-footed ) when it comes to gender issues,

partially explaining why ZANU-PF has traditionally been

assured the women’s vote.

DELL

 

(9 VIEWS)

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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