By Nomazulu Tata- To be a woman activist in Zimbabwe is totally different from being an activist in the comforts of Germany.
I have come to terms with this fact. Women activism especially in our societies does not mean firing unguided missiles to General Chiwenga in the hope to effect change in Merry’s life. The women in Zimbabwe especially those women’s organisation have realized just how vulnerable they are.
Zimbabwe is a military state, has been since the coup of 2017. People have been gunned down cold blood for demonstrating peacefully. Doctors who are taking care of Merry wellbeing are petrified with fear of writing any document that will relieve Merry of personally attending her numerous pending court cases. Merry is unwell, ill!
Yes, I was one of them who condemned women organisations in Zimbabwe for doing less regarding Merry’s case. It is not that they ignore her case: They know the Zanu government they are dealing with. General Chiwenga is a Zimbabwe government unto himself.
There is no law he will respect when it comes to his divorce case with Merry; her ‘money laundering accusation and the attempted murder cases Merry is accused of having committed against General Chiwenga. The women’s organisations have their hands tight to render assistance to Merry. That said, it does not mean we have resigned from assisting her even emotional assistance.
Women especially those on the ground are weighing their options as to how to assist in her case without being victimized themselves. I realized early that women in these organisations have young families to look after. Courage is a virtue; not at the detriment of one’s personal circumstances.
A realistic approach to activism is paramount. Societies should not expect wonders from activists all the time: we do have our limitations. We should be allowed to say, “we tried but failed” and we take stock as to how we could in future approach circumstances different and effect change we want to see.
It is more realistic especially in despotic countries like Zimbabwe to focus on young girls’ empowerment so that they do not fall into situations such as that of Merry Chiwenga. We take Merry Chiwenga Mubayiwa as a textbook case whereby young women learn from her life circumstances.
Poverty determines how we perceive marriage institutions in Zimbabwe. Let us be fair to our girl-children and be transparent with them: facilitate wisdom with them that marriage is good and can be a successful if a girl-child goes to the institution marriage already empowered and never to see marriage as a gate way from poverty to riches.
Let us tell our girl-children that going to marriage with back-up plans is better than going to it empty-handed. Young women must see beyond marriages: go to marriage with questions in your mind: “what if” and “how am I going to survive in the event the marriage failed”? There should be a plan B in your mind all the time. Our economy is cash: for this reason we are compelled to think and focus on the economy at the home.
A man who tells a woman that money is not the most important thing in marriage is down-right deceitful; do not waste time with that relationship because it is based on falsehood. We remember the lyrics of Miriam Makeba she said in one of her songs: “never marry a man without those cows for mama and papa”. The same is true for a woman who will enter marriage institution with nothing to fall back on just in case of eventualities that may happen in the marriage.
Let us take it upon ourselves to ask daringly questions it did not matter how painfully true they can be: if a young woman tells us she wants to get married. “What have you to show in the marriage ahead of you?” Is it the man’s riches an incentive to marriage? Do you love him or are you seeing the position the man has attracted you to go for a kill?
I would imagine that Merry saw his riches and the position of General Chiwenga that made her fall for him. It does not hold water to tell us that the bedroom politics with the General did not add up. Those are immediate markers she should have considered long before she married him but not in the middle of a nasty divorce.
I would imagine that women’s organisations in Zimbabwe are pressed with immediate cases that demand their attention more than one media dominating case of Merry Mubayiwa. The number of cases related to domestic violence; the child marriages are prevalent.
We had a case of a girl as old as 14 who died giving birth. Her early marriage; was not yet biologically mature to give birth. I would imagine that the focus is mostly on major cases in hundreds. We have poverty levels that are a death sentence to girl-children as they are sold off to “rich men” so that the family gets pittances of lobola to survive another day.
Reading the daily social media: the cases of women murdered by their partners and spouses are alarmingly high. The global pandemic exacerbated a fragile economic destitution without the bailout from our government. Information about the dangers Covid 19 is now dawning on the societies:
Covid 19 is not a myth but real. Children are not getting formal education; this factually means that there will be a section of our children who will lose out completely from getting formal education. I can imagine that women’s organisations are focusing on painful issues of this nature on their hands.
Women’s activism should focus mostly on service delivery in towns and cities. There is great concern about the quality of water and sanitation: raw sewages randomly penetrating homes in densely populated townships is now a daily occurrence. Our grandchildren play in open sewages.
Water is a basic human right enshrined in the UN convention. People who are mostly affected by the scarcity of water are women and girl-children the ones with domestic duties of fetching water for domestic use. Has it become typical African failures: we recently got heavy rains this last season, but all the rainwater was washed away to major rivers off to the oceans?
Immediately after the rains, BCC restricted water in most Bulawayo townships. To avoid insults I will not talk much or comment openly about glaring incompetence of BCC City fathers and mothers. It is not BCC specific but, in all towns, and cities in Zimbabwe.
Merry Mubayiwa is not forgotten at all. The gender-based challenges are overwhelming the women’s organisations. With limited resources women’s organisations can do that much. It is for this reason that we envisage a radio project that will focus on girl-children and women’s issues specifically.
The radio is not only for Zimbabwe, but for most of the regions of “Sub” Sahara Africa. The radio is a chance, a platform to give girl-children, young women; women of all ages must be given a voice to share similar challenges patriarchal societies share.