AN angry women’s rights group has demanded a public apology from opposition MDC leader Nelson Chamisa over the “the humiliation of his wife” at the party’s 20th anniversary celebrations last weekend.
Chamisa appeared to violently grab the microphone away from his wife Sithokozile as she greeted thousands of party supporters at Rufaro Stadium.
A short video clip of the incident has since gone vital on social media and the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ) in a statement Saturday said Chamisa’s actions were irresponsible and showed a lack of respect for women.
“As the women of Zimbabwe, we can only interpret this behavior to be an act of discrimination on the grounds of gender.
“This case thus represents thousands of women, globally on the frontlines of gender stereotype,” the rights group said.
It raised questions over Chamisa’s behavior behind the scenes “if he can behave like this in public.”
“Hence, we ask the following fundamental questions, if influential highly esteemed men can subject women to such gender stereotype while the whole world is watching, what more behind closed doors?” the statement read in part.
As a role model Chamisa according to the WCoZ was supposed to act and treat his wife in a more dignified manner.
“If men who are considered to be role models with higher appreciation of women’s rights can publicly violate such rights, what message does this send out to the general populace and citizens who look up to them for leadership and inspiration,” the WCoZ said.
Most women’s rights groups have been quiet over the issue raising questions from critics over where their allegiances lie and whether they are committed to the emancipation of women in highly conservative societies like Zimbabwe.
The statement added that therefore the MDC leader needed to issue a public apology as well as show respect for women in in manner, speech and deed henceforth.
“Political party leaders to ensure that the conduct of their leaders and members in all platforms is not in violation of women’s rights and is in compliance with the Constitution of Zimbabwe,” said the group adding that Chimasa’s actions were in violation of the country’s governance charter.
The MDC including its women's assembly has not commended on the issue and seems to have brushed it aside taking a business as usual approach.