By Bernard Chiketo
Mutare deputy mayor Kudakwashe Chisango has publicly admitted that poor service delivery and sex pests within council employment were exposing women to gender-based violence (GBV).
The MDC Alliance councilor told a Transparency International Zimbabwe hosted conversation café on sextortion – a form of corruption and sexual abuse, at a city hotel as part of 16 days of activism against GBV Monday, that his council’s poor water supply and policy on cutting water supply to defaulting ratepayers needed attention.
Chisango said women were being forced to venture out of their homes after midnight in search of water resulting in others being accused of infidelity while others were forced to give in to sexual demands to be spared from having their water cut off over poorly serviced rate arrears.
“We were reflecting on how we, as a council, are contributing to the abuse of women. We are failing to supply water in time so women will go out to fetch water at 12 midnight, one AM, two AM leading some couples to have misunderstandings as others are accused of infidelity…
“Some of our employees may demand sex to avoid having to cut off water supplies for female-headed households with unpaid rates and were acknowledge that we are as a council are thus exposing women to abuse in this way,” Chisango said.
He said the local authority was however working hard to address the challenges.
“As a council, we have to work hard to improve service delivery to address these challenges. We need to improve water supply and we also need to educate the city of the existence of a gender desk which takes and investigates complaints against abuse within our staff and by our staff,” Chisango said.
TIZ official Sam Matikiti said women were prone to be subjected to sextortion because of their general lack of financial resources leaving corrupt officials demanding sex as currency instead.
“Women are economically disadvantaged and do not have money which is the usual currency of transaction in bribery making them prone to sexual demands instead,” Matikiti said.
Meanwhile, Mutasa South MP Regai Tsunga speaking at the same event said parliament should have a mandatory sentence for GBV in the face of rising rape cases which he said have gone up by 42 percent over the past six years.
Quoting from the 2010-11 Zimbabwe Demographic Health Survey which reported that 49 percent of women in Zimbabwe had been subjected to GBV, Tsunga said the country should be alarmed by the high prevalence of GBV.
Tsunga said Childline recorded over 4 200 cases of child sexual abuse in 2019 with Zimstats statistics indicating that 21 women are sexually abused daily in the country.
“All these statistics indicate a 21 percent increase in sexual abuse cases in the country over the past six years,” Tsunga said. “We need to lobby for a mandatory sentence of GBV offenders.”