THIS month we celebrate acts of courage and determination by women who have played extraordinary roles in their countries’ and communities’ histories. The International Women’s Day celebrated on March 8 focussed on “Women in the Changing World of Work” under the theme #BeBoldForChange.
Candid Comment ,Faith Zaba
While we are commemorating bold women in leadership, we cannot ignore the need for them to be elevated into management positions based on merit and quality.
In this women’s month, celebrations were dimmed by this week’s separate interviews by National People’s Party leader Joice Mujuru with Stephen Sackur on the British Broadcasting Corporation’s HardTalk and Tim Sebastian on Deutsche Welle’s Conflict Zone.
Mujuru, the country’s vice-president between 2005 and 2014, before being booted out of Zanu PF, is one of Zimbabwe’s most outstanding women. She is a hero of the liberation war, whose contribution is unquestionable. Mujuru joined the liberation struggle in 1973 at a tender age of 15 and became commander at Mozambique’s Chimoio camp in 1976, a year before she married the late decorated army commander Solomon Mujuru.
She is inspirational to many. After quitting school in Form Two, she educated herself and completed her Ordinary and Advanced Levels. Mujuru now holds a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in Management and Entrepreneurial Studies from Women’s University in Africa. In 2014, she graduated with a PhD from the University of Zimbabwe’s Faculty of Arts, Philosophy Department.
In 1980, Mujuru was the only woman appointed to a ministerial post in President Robert Mugabe’s 23-member cabinet. This was no mean feat.
Mujuru is an exemplary achiever worth emulating, though she has been found wanting in breaking the glass ceiling in Zimbabwean politics. One would have thought the horrendous SABC interview in January was just one of those forgettable performances, not to be repeated. But the two interviews show mediocrity seems embedded in her bone marrow. Five common areas of inquiry she is always quizzed about are: Gukurahundi, political violence, economic collapse, land grabs and corruption. She should by now have mastered the issues instead of peddling half-baked answers.
Mujuru is proving to be unfit to lead a political party, and is just not measuring up. During her days in Zanu PF, she somewhat cultivated the image of a potential successor. Her bungling in interviews feeds into the claims that she rode on Mugabe’s charisma, creating the sexist impression that women can only do well under men’s guidance.
Yet there are several women who have individually excelled, among them the United States Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Liberian President Ellen Jonhson Sirleaf and South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, a strong contender to succeed President Jacob Zuma.
Mujuru should be measuring up to such standards.