Source: allAfrica
If gender statistics on corporate boards of companies in both private and public sectors are to be used as a measure of gender parity in corporate governance structures in Zimbabwe, the conclusion is clear.


Gender parity in corporate governance is still "a pie in the sky".

Leadership positions in both the private and public sectors are predominantly male-dominated and do not represent gender diversity.

Women are dismally underrepresented in decision making positions in all sectors surveyed.

What is of concern is that this clearly violates the spirit and intent of the Constitution of Zimbabwe under section 17, which provides for gender balance in all levels of Zimbabwean society.

Section 17 (1) (a) clearly provides that the State must promote full gender balance and in particular full participation of women in all spheres of Zimbabwean society on the basis of equality with men.

The constitutional aspirations on gender diversity and balance are still to be attained in all levels of the Zimbabwean society and in particular in corporate boardrooms.

Below are some interesting results of my findings.

Obtaining official data on Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE)-listed companies and State-owned enterprises (SOEs) was a challenge.

However, data on the legislative assembly is readily available as the official website of Parliament is very user friendly and up to date with information.

Notwithstanding the annotated constraints, the results of my findings are fairly accurate and dependable.

ZSE Boards

A study entitled: "Measuring Gender Differences on Board of Directors of Companies Listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange" conducted in 2015 by Tavonga Njaya (Department of Accounting and Banking and Finance, Faculty of Commerce and Law, Zimbabwe Open University) and Zvinaiye Chimbadzwa (Department of Management and Business Studies, Faculty of Commerce and Law, Zimbabwe Open University), provides interesting statics on gender diversity on boards of 64 companies listed on the ZSE.

Here are some of the key research


Out of the 406 directors: 40 (10 percent) were female, 366 (90 percent) were male.
27 (45 percent) of the listed companies had one or more women on their boards.
37 (58 percent) of the listed companies did not have a single female board member.
Out 64 CEOs: only 3 CEOs (4.68 percent) are females and 61 males.
Female to male ratios: one female CEO: 21.33 male CEOs.
The only three ZSE female CEO are: Grace Muradzikwa: Nicoz-Diamond, Clara Mlambo: BAT and Mercy Muchando-Murevesi: GetBucs.

Note: Female CEOs for BAT and GetBucs were only appointed in 2016.

The study cited above, concludes that the results on gender diversity on boards were shocking: "With all the attention the issue is obtaining one would think that companies were doing better to promote gender equality in their boardrooms.

"The small number of women directors demonstrated that the various corporate leadership groups had not yet embraced diversity in their boards."

To better understand the dynamics of gender parity in corporate governance in Zimbabwe the survey also extended to other institutions and agencies of government and the legislature.


From my own independent analysis, there are about 103 SOEs (parastatals) in Zimbabwe.

My findings were as follows:

Female CEOs: 15 (14,50 percent)
Male CEOs: 88 (85,50 percent)
Female to male ratios: one female CEO: 6,7 male CEOs. While the data on directorship was not collated, a snap survey on SOE boards shows that out of the 103 SOEs, there are only a handful of women about (7) or (6,8 percent) who chair SOE boards.

State Universities

Out of the eight State universities I surveyed the results were as follows:

Vice chancellors: 8
Male vice chancellors: 7 (88 percent)
Female vice chancellors: 1 (12 percent)
Pro vice chancellors: 10
Male pro vice chancellors: 9 (90 percent)
Female pro vice chancellors: 1 (10 percent)
From the eight state universities, the only female vice chancellor is Prof Primrose Kurasha (Zimbabwe Open University). The only female pro vice chancellor is: Dr Clara Mlambo at Lupane State University.


The gender gap in politics i.e. the legislature (Parliament and Senate), narrows sharply in comparison to the gap in boards of listed companies and SOEs. When it comes to politics, it is interesting to note that women representation in leadership has increased sharply since independence. Women in the legislature (assembly and senate combined) occupy 40 percent of the seats compared to only 10 percent women directors on the ZSE. Here are the current statistics for Parliament and Senate:


Assembly seats: 270
Men: 185 (68,50 percent)
Women: 85 (31,50 percent)


Senate seats: 80
Men: 42 (52,50 percent)
Women: 17 (47,50 percent)
At government ministerial level, it is disappointing to note that the gender imbalance tilt sharply in favour of males. Out of 41 ministers: only eight (19,51 percent) are female and 33 (80,49 percent) are male. Out of 20 deputy ministers: a paltry 4 (20 percent) are female, while 16 (80 percent) are males. There is glaringly no female representation on the Presidium.

What does the survey reveal?

The above survey reveals that there is major gender inequality on corporate boards in both the private and public sectors.

It is alarming to note that in 2016, we still have some corporate boards (37) on the ZSE where there is not a single female board member!

Surprisingly the same pattern of gender imbalance is also found in the academia (universities) where women are far less represented in positions of leadership (the chancellery) as compared to men.

Despite the strides government has made in appointing women to SOE boards, CEO positions in SOEs are still predominantly occupied by males at a ratio of: one female CEO: 6,7 male CEOs.

What is of concern is that the Constitution under clause 17 (1) (b) (i) clearly provides that the State must take all measures ,including legislative measures needed, to ensure that both genders are equally (50 percent) represented at all levels in all institutions and agencies of government.

Despite the constitutional provisions cited above, gender inequality persists in the public sector where strong male dominance in positions of leadership is entrenched. This needs to change. There is need for legislative intervention as provided for in the Constitution, to ensure equal gender representation in governance of SOEs.

While gender imbalance in positions of leadership is much sharper in the private and public sectors, the picture is different when it comes to the legislature (Parliament and Senate).

In Parliament 40 percent of seats are occupied by females and falls short by only 10 percent to meet the equal (50 percent) gender representation enshrined in the Constitution. In the Senate there is gender parity with male and female senators occupying 50 percent of seats each.

The gender balance is, however, disappointing at ministerial level where only eight (19,51 percent) ministers are female and 33 (80,49 percent) are male and on the Presidium where there is no female representation. This clearly violates the spirit and provisions of section 17 of the Constitution.

Towards Gender Parity

Significant strides have, however, been made by government and political parties to address historical gender imbalances by bringing in more women into politics through equal opportunity policies, affirmative action and gender quarter systems etc.

The women's movement in Zimbabwe has also played a significant role in pushing for gender equality in the political landscape through organisations that champion women's rights such as UNFEM, ActionAid, Oxfam, UN Women, Women's Trust just to mention a few.

Whichever direction one looks at, private and public sectors and in politics, 100 percent gender parity is yet to be achieved.

Men occupy the majority of positions of power in leadership (decision making) than women. These gender disparities need to be addressed to ensure that both genders are equally represented in all institutions and agencies of government as enshrined in the Constitution. After all women constitute 51 percent of our population.

We need not only action to address gender imbalance, but also a mind-set change. Gender equality isn't only a women's issue, it's a fundamental human rights issue.

By Allen Choruma

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