Please publish my letter below in response to Mrs Chamisa’s letter published yesterday.
Dear Mrs Sithokozile Chamisa,
I was excited to read your letter yesterday dated October 8th 2019. My excitement comes not only from the content and dismay you highlighted but from the fact that we women are now finding our voice to talk issues affecting women in all classes in our societies in Zimbabwe. Please let’s keep talking and very loud about these female issues and painful problems of abuse against women and girl-children. The culture of patriarchy and misogyny must be defeated with all our collective strength.
However you are unhappy about the method of approach to your personal problem regarding your husband’s abuse in the public. You wish the organisation would have done first things first: to find out what actually transpired at that rally that was at Rufaro Stadium on the 28th of September. I agree with your argument that you should have been contacted first and be privately asked, what actually transpired. That was going to be a balanced knowledge and information; the two sides of the coin, you are a paid-up member of WCoZ as such.
Not very long ago, I wrote two letters regarding abuse of misogynistic nature: one was about Mrs Tambudzani Mohadi’s case and her deranged husband, the Vice President of Zimbabwe: Mr. Mohadi. The other was regarding the First Lady: Auxilia Mnangagwa and the Army Commander who appeared to be dubiously following her movements until she complained bitterly. This story about her abuse at the hands of her security details filtered into the social media; as Mrs Mnangagwa spoke to the General: the communication was recorded. I had hoped the WCoZ was going to pick this up and act on this as these two cases are classical cases of abuse on women. I admit painfully that I was let down by our women who did not pick these two issues in as much as in your case.
I wished women would have come together in a non partisan approach and give a statement on abuse of women irrespective of what political ladder Mnangagwa and Mohadi: Presidents of the Republic of Zimbabwe. Abuse on women is abuse on women!
Having written those letters, but without any response from the WCoZ at least in the social media, I telephoned the Honourable Ms Priscilla Mishihairabwi openly complaining about the deafening and loud silence of women especially WCoZ regarding the plight of Senator Tambudzani Mohadi. I even appealed to her: “please, let’s put aside what divides us personally as women and come up with one voice and condemn the barbaric behaviour of Vice President Mohadi who almost shot Tambudzani at her home. Indeed this was a case whereby one of our own would have been murdered; femicide per se.
It has come to my realization that we African women need to do a lot regarding violence against women in our societies in Zimbabwe. We cannot achieve anything if we selectively pick-and-cherry where to engage and where not to engage. In the scheme of things, Tambudzani’s case was compelling for action at WCoZ level to shout loud that VP Mohadi should respect women, for goodness sake. If 52% of the population in Zimbabwe are women, it factually means women’s organisation have a lot of work in their hands. We read daily in our news-media about women being murdered by their spouses we wish our women’s organisations to act on our behalf.
There are some cases whereby women are battered in the presence of children in our societies. Surely it is understandable that the political and economic situation is such that these women’s organisations are challenged to act in some cases. How do they go for Chamisa’s misogynistic tendencies if they cannot tackle the President Mnangagwa’s insensitive undermining behaviour to his dear wife Auxilia? Auxilia Mnangagwa kicked and screamed and not a single voice came from WCoZ-women condemning the abuse of the whole President to his dear wife.
When all that said and done; dear Sithokozile, we do not cover up the misdeeds of our husbands. Your letter compels one to say that you are not happy that WCoZ has exposed your husband who was abusive to you at the glare of the social media cameras for all to see. We do not want to cover up the misdeeds and cruelty of our relatives who sexually abuse small girls in their care. To this day, young girls in Zimbabwe are out there in the red lights eking out a living in all towns, growth points and cities; curiously, some parents gain from such activities. Child marriages are still common practice condoned by the very relatives in Zimbabwe. Rape is prevalent in Zimbabwe and those relatives choose to be silent about it because the criminal in the home is the father, brother, uncle, and grandfather or any male relative.
The women’s work is made difficult by women themselves who try to cover up these misogynistic tendencies in men or their spouses and relatives. As a member of WCoZ you should know better. We need that single voice without having to tear each other to earn men acceptance: men do laugh at us when we contradict each other on such matters relating to women-abuse and misogyny. We can never win without a collective voice. We shoot each other on the foot when we come to defend those men again, they actually laugh at us literally. Dear Sithokozile, it came to my attention very late that men can actually tell women to dress down other women on social media. Men enjoy this scenario and this is what we should avoid at all cost, contradicting each other on social media.
I can assure you Mrs Chamisa, if you are mistreated because you are a woman by any man including your husband, I will come to your side and defend you. I am not an MDC-Alliance member. I have defended Mrs Grace Mugabe who was abused by unscrupulous men who wanted to get power with her assistance; I am not a G-40 member. I have written a sketching letter when I thought the First Lady Mrs Auxilia Mnangagwa’s life was on the line and all the humiliations she had to go through with President Mnangagwa. I am not a Zanu PF member. I will do it again if I thought Auxilia’s life was in danger. The cause, the fight for the rights of women should go beyond political party affiliations, it should transcend beyond partisan thinking and religious affiliations. We women must not see each other as rivals, a thing of the past. I stopped writing articles attacking other women because I felt bad after that. I felt I had shot myself on the foot.
I am deeply convinced that WCoZ is doing its best in light of challenging political, social and economic situation prevailing in the country. Is our organisation WCoZ resourced to perform in the way we expect them to do? These are pertinent questions we should ask ourselves first before we jump into conclusions that they are incompetent. Indeed you are right if you say there are MDC women languishing in remand prisons with trumped-up charges and the WCoZ has not reacted as such or issued a statement in that regard about them regarding their incarceration. Here, they are indeed found wanting. The second question is how do we render assistance to this noble organisation in form of finance, logistics to be able to relatively execute their duties to our satisfaction? What expertise does the organisation have, are there lawyers, sociologists, pastoral workers, social workers, medical doctors, mothers and aunties?
Again we should not always be talking about women in the higher social status who find their defence and their stories recognised in the form of articles on social media. Ordinary women out there need this organisation to assist them with day to day challenges they face in their lives: problems of domestic and sexual violence in homes and at work. Our lives as women and girl-children in Zimbabwe are on the line all the time. We need women with great courage who will still be able to talk loud about abuse in our communities especially at homes where the culture of silence is still intact. Our communities are violent to women and children to this day and we need young women who will do some thorough research: why this violence on women and children. We should find the root cause of any form of violence. Only then can we be able to tackle it better.
WCoZ should be resourced with some powerful platform whereby women are encouraged to come to the platform to give their voice. A radio station is the most powerful platform for women to air their grievances that are related to domestic violence and several other women and girl-child issues we know too well. The themes of gender-based violence are long enough. The culture of silence can be revoked by the presence of radios that will give women courage to collectively talk their problems and traditions that undermine them. The women’s radio in Zimbabwe should be our target dear Sithokozile.
I hope I find you well dear sister