AS Women’s Month, whose theme this year is #BeBoldForChange, ends today, recent events in the Zanu PF Women’s League orchestrated by the First Lady, Grace Mugabe, which saw the party organ stage demonstrations countrywide that led to the proposed expulsion of its executives Eunice Sandi-Moyo and Sarah Mahoka are unfortunate.
Candid Comment,Faith Zaba
Such behaviour by the Women’s League boss gives credence to the stereotype that women do not want to see other women rise and that women are their own worst enemies. Whatever problems Grace has with Sandi-Moyo and Mahoka, who have been accused of abuse of funds and usurping their boss’ power, among a litany of allegations, purging is not the best political approach. There are other ways of resolving such political disputes without crushing dissenting voices. Sandi-Moyo, who is Grace’s deputy and Mahoka, the league’s secretary for finance, were key figures in the First Lady’s rise to lead the Zanu PF women’s organ in 2014. They are now being shunted out of office in the same manner they did former vice-president Joice Mujuru, working with Grace and Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri.
Since Grace entered the political fray, internal hostility to dissent has reached alarming levels. Internal party democracy has since been totally obliterated. People are not allowed to hold opposing views. What is more shocking is that even the bigwigs with liberation war credentials are stiff scared of her. In the past three years, Grace has fought Mujuru, Olivia Muchena, Muchinguri-Kashiri, Sandi-Moyo, Mahoka, among many other women.
Unfortunately instead of promoting women and helping them rise in a hostile and very difficult political environment, the First Lady seems to be waging a nasty war against them. During her nationwide campaigns, she denounced Mujuru, veering into hysterical character assassination using foul language. Just last month at a rally in Buhera, she made sexual connotations about Mujuru being a queen bee. And now her gun is pointing at Mahoka and Sandi-Moyo.
Already it is very difficult for women to enter the political fray, let alone rise to leadership positions without Grace making it even harder for them to survive in politics.
Grace is not portraying herself as someone who is unable to build relationships and sustain them. She is coming out as a cantankerous woman who is just out there to intimidate other women and make life very difficult for them. Her duty as head of the Women’s League is to work closely with women, help them rise in the party and also advance gender equality in governance structures and processes.
Grace’s modus operandi cannot only be to purge people with opposing views. Ministers, war veterans, women have all been purged at Grace’s instance. Is it a crime to harbour ambition? The politics of purging is just not sustainable. At this alarming rate, everyone in Zanu PF will be purged except Mugabe and his wife. She needs mature politics of engagement, cohesion and inclusivity rather than division for her own good and the good of her party.