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Sexualisation of Female Politicians – The unacceptable attacks against Mahere and Mamombe

The attacks against Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) spokesperson, Advocate Fadzayi Mahere, are not only diabolic but very unfortunate.

There is a background to this, in a deeply entrenched patriarchal society, in which powerful women who have a voice, suffer incredible attacks in order to cow them into silence.

‘kumupa size.’ Some men brag after attacking a female.

In order to redirect attention, when losing an argument men turn to sexual objectification.

In Zimbabwean politics this is nothing new. We all remember the attacks war veteran Margaret Dongo suffered when she tried to bring her fellow liberation movement comrades to order, over issues that were affecting the country – chief among which was pervasive corruption – they presided over.

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Dongo raised issues that resonated with the masses in Zimbabwe, but, she was dismissed as, ‘mentally unbalanced,’ and carrying a grudge against former President Robert Mugabe.

Narrating her ordeal within the liberation movement ranks, Dongo would say, “I’m saying this because I was in that parliament. I endured a lot of hardship under a one-party monopoly. You stand up and try to reason with him, and one tells you, “You are a bitch, go and cook in your house.” Or tells you to sit down, that you are a minority…”

There is a reason as to why I go back to this history and the relevance to the political discourse today, as we prepare ourselves for a new Zimbabwe.

There are red-flags to watch out for, this is one of them. The attack against Advocate Mahere has not come from some uncouth tout, excuse this example, but rather, from a journalist Edmund Kudzai, an authority in opinion making and influencing – who should know better.
But no! We Zimbabwean women ‘takajaidza makudo neano kamhina.’

It must end.

This attack happening soon after the late Moreblessing Ali, endured the same, sadly in death, by the police, who sought to diminish her case, by portraying her in way that makes her a ‘deserving candidate for violence and disappearance’. Playing to the patriarchal gallery in our society.

Generation after generation of Zimbabwean women who take the lead into our dangerous politics, risking their lives always do so at a huge cost of patriarchal backlash.

It happens to one sister, we are silent, another one we are silent. A culture of silence that has to be broken.

Furthermore, so ridiculous are these attacks that an elected Member of Parliament (MP), Joana Mamombe, was again sexually attacked during her ongoing trial last week, but, nobody noticed what had just happened.

More tragic that democrats found humour in the attack.

Preposterous and totally unacceptable that Assistant Inspector Tevedzera Shonhai, should stand before a full courtroom and confess to stalking Mamombe, because, “I know the accused (Mamombe) because I used to follow her when she was a Member of Parliament (MP) and she is actually good looking,” Democrats gleefully received this statement, with some media houses printing cop ‘shoots his shot’ at Mamombe. Trivialising the political abuse she is experiencing as she should not be in the court to start with.

These are police men, who should be protecting and making us feel safe around them, but, then the country went to the dogs long back.

We are going where we are coming from.

Accordingly, Jonathan Moyo, is a 65 year old man, who should be leading and offering moral leadership, which includes respect for women leaders like Mahere.

His fight was not even with Mahere but because of his bullying tendency she becomes a convenient target for attack.

Lest we forget the same Moyo is no random guy, and no fool either, the man famed for destroying media ethics in Zimbabwe, the notorious brains behind both AIPPA and POSA, arguably the two most repressive laws in independent Zimbabwe – while he was working as Zanu PF’s principal propaganda tool.

A job many believe he has been recruited back to.

Not surprising, therefore, that this is part and parcel of Zanu PF’s strategy – throw the cat among the pigeons.

I watched the whole debate on CCC structures descend from one low level to the next, again not coincidental, that there is a deafening silence on Hon. Job Sikhala whose health is under attack – in prison where he is being held unlawfully.

These small incidents as we prepare for a new Zimbabwe, are also a learning curve for us to brace up and dismantle the exhausted patriarchal model of liberation, one whose mentality is to view women as a dispensable other.

The pillars of this model are sexism, dictatorship and cronyism, which birthed Zimbabwe at independence, not accidental, therefore, that Moyo sees nothing wrong with his sexist attacks against Mahere, this is the vile, primitive politics he was mentored in.

A politics this generation must dismantle, build new pillars, a new value system, that respects women and their choices.

No male democrat must sit in court hear Inspector Shonhayi spew out such retrogressive nonsense against a fellow female comrade and find humour in it.

Necessitating a serious need for a re-education on political etiquette.

Grace Kwinjeh is a journalist. She can be reached on [email protected]