first female President of Ireland and former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mrs Mary Robinson, who is in the council of The Elders who are in the country ahead of the July 30 harmonised elections, has expressed concern at the abuse of female commissioners in the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) by the MDC-Alliance.
The commissioners, including ZEC chairwoman Justice Priscilla Chigumba, have been victims of consistent abuse by the MDC-Alliance led by Mr Nelson Chamisa.
The abuse has gone more vicious as the clock ticks towards the plebiscite, with Mr Chamisa and senior members of the alliance calling Justice Chigumba names for allegedly refusing to accede to their unlawful demands.
The Elders met ZEC commissioners yesterday.
They also held separate meetings with President Mnangagwa, and the MDC-Alliance, among other opposition political parties.
ZEC commissioner Mrs Natsai Mushonga confirmed the concerns raised by Mrs Robinson on her tweeter account posting: “Her excellency Mary Robinson expresses concern at the abuse of female commissioners.
“It’s sexism where when you don’t agree with a woman you throw unomutukirira with the h . . . word. Why can’t we talk and argue and agree to disagree,” added Commissioner Mushonga.
British Ambassador to Zimbabwe Ms Catriona Laing reacted to the tweet saying the abuse (against ZEC female commissioners) must stop.
“Good to see this abuse being called out. It needs to stop,” posted Ambassador Laing on her tweeter handle.
Mrs Robinson is a forceful advocate for gender equality who was been President of Ireland from 1990-1997.
She was the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region of Africa in 2013-2014.
The MDC-T led by Mr Chamisa has shown over time that it has no respect for women.
It abused then MDC-T deputy president Dr Thokozani Khupe at the burial of Mr Morgan Tsvangirai in Buhera in February this year by calling her names and almost assaulted her before she hid in a hut.
The party’s youths threatened to burn down the hut where Dr Khupe had taken refuge. She had to be escorted away by members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police.
Mr Chamisa’s party also called Dr Khupe a prostitute at the Supreme Court during a bitter dispute over use of the MDC-T name and party symbols and logos.
Another MDC-T female politician, Ms Jessie Majome recently raised similar concerns after she was abused by youths in the MDC-T led by Mr Chamisa, who called her names.
This was after she was elbowed out of her constituency and she decided to stand as an independent in Harare West against Mr Chamisa’s wishes.
Last week ZEC reported the MDC-Alliance to the police following persistent threats and abuse of its commissioners.
ZEC deputy chair Commissioner Emmanuel Magade told journalists in Harare: “Some unkind and uncharitable things have been said about us. We find it totally, totally dispecable and unconscionable and deplorable. What we have done as law-abiding citizens is to refer those threats to the police and other law enforcement agencies,” he said.
While all this has been going on, local women’s groups have been conspicuous by their silence.