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Zimbabwe Women Lawmakers Object to PM Tsvangirai's MDC Cabinet Shuffle

Parliamentary Women's Caucus Chairwoman Beatrice Beata Nyamupinga said that in dropping Evelyn Masaiti, Mr. Tsvangirai had pared the small gains women had achieved in representation in government's top ranks

Women in Zimbabwe's Parliament have voiced concern at Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s cabinet reshuffle this week, saying that it represented a step backward for women's representation in government.

The parliamentarians in particular objected to the removal of Evelyn Masaiti as deputy Women's Affairs minister, and the transfer of lawyer Jessie Majome from her post at the Ministry of Justice to replace Masaiti.

Majome’s former position as deputy Justice minister is to be filled by lawyer Obert Gutu.

The Women’s Parliamentary Caucus issued a statement saying it is losing faith in the country’s political leadership because it has not kept its word on promoting more women to decision-making positions.

Caucus chairwoman Beatrice Beata Nyamupinga said that in dropping Masaiti, the prime minister had eroded the small gains women had made in establishing themselves in the top ranks of government.

President Robert Mugabe late this week swore into office two new ministers and three deputy ministers named in Mr. Tsvangirai's reshuffle of portfolios held by his formation of the former opposition Movement for Democratic Change, now a partner in the power-sharing government in place in Harare since February 2009.

Mr. Tsvangirai said on Wednesday the move was intended to bolster his ministerial team and make it more effective in the unity government. He removed two ministers and two deputies from their positions and said they would be assigned them to party duties, including the former energy minister, Elias Mudzuri.

The prime minister's spokesman, James Maridadi, said Mr. Tsvangirai had explained in detail the reasons for the shuffle, though the women parliamentarians were entitled to their opinion as to his decisions.