She has been fondly hailed as South Africa’s latest woman crush on social media, while other social media users have been in awe of Pan-African Parliament’s Barbara Rwodzi’s unwavering stance amid violent scuffles in the continental legislative body’s chambers in Midrand.
Recounting her experience at the Pan-African Parliament, Zimbabwe’s member of parliament for Chirumhanzu said the fight for rotation of the leadership of the house is not over.
“We are very optimistic as civil people of southern Africa that the African Union will make sure that this issue is discussed so that we see the end of it. It is a rule and procedure for AU organs to follow geographical rotation. It just doesn’t make sense to me why the Pan-African Parliament struggles to follow that,” Rwodzi told African News Agency (ANA) in an interview.
“We are very optimistic that the AU will bring justice and transparency on this matter. We hold on to our hope, we will come right. And if it (rotation) is not followed, we will continue fighting.”
She vowed that the matter of rotation, if not addressed, will be top of the agenda when the house reconvenes in October.
“If it’s not followed, we will continue fighting. We will still stand. It would be much better to close the Parliament. Why should we be discriminatory when it comes to issues of leading the Parliament? Who said other regions are superior than others? It is good and proper to exchange leadership so that the Africa we want is built together, and it unifies the continent,” said Rwodzi.
The Zanu PF lawmaker, representing Zimbabwe in the Pan-African Parliament, said her close working ties with the vociferous Economic Freedom Fighters leader, Julius Malema, did not start last week.
“I was appointed to the Pan-African Parliament in 2018 by my country. I met Honourable Malema in Rwanda. That is where we had our PAP session for October 2018. That was the first time I met Honourable Malema, in our committee on public accounts and audit. We are in the same committee, so we have been working together for the past three years,” said Rwodzi.
“In 2019 I was voted vice-chairman for that committee. I am currently the acting chairman following the departure of the chairman, who went for elections, lost and didn’t come back. I am current acting chairman of the committee on public accounts and Honourable Malema is a member of that committee. It wasn’t new that we had to work together, team up to make justice prevail. We have always been working like that.”
On Tuesday, clerk of the Pan-African Parliament Vipya Harawa was forced to postpone proceedings of the house following days of violent scuffles, outbursts and disruptions by parliamentarians.
Rwodzi said she had become a victim of violence within the Pan-African Parliament precinct, as fellow female parliamentarians were sent to physically attack her.
“I was personally attacked more than three times, and I am sure you have watched a clip where four women were intentionally called from the floor to come and attack me. They suspected that I had taken documents from the clerk and put them in my handbag. They came wanting to take my handbag and in the process I was injured because one of the women was strangling my left hand,” said Rwodzi.
“The attack on me was tactful because they had to send women, and during the struggle they were saying it is women to women. My colleagues from the south were watching me with four big women on top of me, as small as I am. But even during that moment, I was not focused on that violence. I was focused on the ultimate goal of what I wanted to achieve.”
Regarding her personal life, Rwodzi said she is an enterprising businesswoman, and a mother of two.
“Barbara Rwodzi is just a simple woman who is well known in the business world. I have been in business since I was 19. I am married, with two children – a boy aged 26 and the girl is turning 18 in July. I stand firm for what I know is right. I am very transparent in everything that I do; not that I am perfect, but I try by all means to be as transparent as I can,” said Rwodzi.
“I love justice, and I love changing livelihoods. That is what drove me to be in Parliament. To go and help where I come from, where I was born in Chirumhanzu in the rural areas of the Midlands part of Zimbabwe.”