From the small screen to Parly: Mavetera’s story

Tatenda Mavetera

To local television followers, the small screen has been Tatenda Mavetera’s home as an actress in yesteryear soapie, Small House Saga.

Her political story, however, is that of an underdog coming up trumps despite the odds stacked against her.

From being an actress to becoming a Zanu PF Seke-Chikomba MP (Proportional Representation) in the 2018 elections, many people thought that Tatenda Mavetera had reached her political zenith.

Far from it.

During the Zanu PF restructuring exercise, she decided to contest in the Zanu PF main wing provincial elections and came up tops.

She was appointed the Mashonaland East provincial party information tsar.

Her decision to contest in the main wing, and not in the women's league as anticipated puzzled many.

When it was announced that Mavetera, also the brains behind Zanu PF affiliate Young women 4ED, had decided to contest for Chikomba West in the primary elections, many thought that she had become over ambitious.

Local political commentators, the know-it-all in politics, had already written her political obituary.

For a young woman like her, standing against the perceived mighty health deputy minister John Mangwiro was a daunting task.

Some thought Mangwiro had no competition at all, declaring him the winner even before the internal polls.

“It is normal for one to aim for the clouds but later land on the trees. I have always wanted to be there, being an aggressive and brave woman,” Mavetera told NewsDay Weekender.

Chikomba West, after the delimitation exercise, is now one of the biggest constituencies in terms of size. And she traversed the length and breadth of the constituency.

The constituency now starts from the Mbudzi tollgate, passing through Chivhu and all the way to just before Mvuma.

On the other side it borders Gutu district around the Chartsworth area.

“Being a PR legislator was a stepping stone to my dream. I know I am an actress by profession but I don't act in life, I do not pretend. I am a servant of the people.

“I didn't use any strategy, I was just being myself. I talk to people, be with the people, live with them and be there for them, that is me,” she added.

Mavetera is one of the few women who excelled in the recent primary elections after contesting against their male counterparts.

Asked on how she felt to contest against a seasoned politician like Mangwiro, Mavetera said: “When contesting it is not about name in the rings, it is about what needs to be done. In this case what needed to be done was to contest. We need 50/50 representation in parliament, I had to do it.”

Mavetera said she had to ‘squeeze’ her resources to be able cover the vast constituency.

“I would love to thank our Zanu PF party for giving opportunities to young people to follow their political dreams. We are challenged to deliver and I would like to thank President Emmerson Mnangagwa for allowing such democratic processes to fuse young people within the party by allowing them to contest, in this case, in the last primary elections,” she said.

Marondera based gender activist Marjory Svisva said Mavetera's experience was an example to be followed by women.

“This case of Mavetera and that of others is a good example to women that it is possible to rise politically. We have been lobbying for 50/50 representation in parliament among other platforms but we have to take the lead as women to achieve that,” she said.

As the journey to the harmonised elections begins, Mavetera has shifted her focus on defeating the opposition.

With her constituency having an 'urban centre' in the name of Chivhu, she is aware of the huge task that lies ahead.

Judging by history, however, Chikomba West has been traditionally a Zanu PF stronghold.

From the young woman on the local screens as an actress in the yesteryear soap, Small House saga, Mavetera is “doing what needs to be done,” whatever the challenges or opposition.

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