Tsitsi Chikonyora

Forty three year old Tsitsi Chikonyora believes that her life experiences sufficiently prepared her for the rough terrain that is often associated with politics. The rigors she went through since childhood instilled into her the resolve of standing up for one’s rights, more so as a girl child.Chikonyora is running for Murewa Rural District Council, Ward 25 seat, representing National People’s Party (NPP), one of the fledgling political parties. Driven by her mantra, “a woman of today must arise and shine,” Chikonyora is confident that her candidature will win the council seat.

‘I believe that the woman of today must arise and shine. She must be a hard worker and not depending on her husband for her well-being. What happens in case he dies, you go back to ground zero?” said Chikonyora, a widow herself, in an interview in Murewa last week.“Our area is a farming community, we need to work hard on agricultural projects, than to look down upon the contribution, especially that of women, to the viabilty of our community’, said Chikonyora, an agriculture graduate of Gwebi College.Born of a father who had seven wives, with her mother being the third wife, Chikonyora did not have an upbringing to be admired, yet she learnt to be strong and decisive through the tribulations of being raised in a large polygamous family.

She spent part of her childhood in Zvimba, staying with her sister whose husband was a headmaster. She is grateful, in particular, for the school fees they paid for her up to form three when she returned to her family home, where, sadly, she was almost always the last one to get her fees paid and provisions like clothing.Her brother-in-law had to resume paying school fees for her, enabling her to write Ordinary level examinations, which she obtained five subjects passes. Against her knowledge and wil, her father and sister connived for her to be a second wife to her brother in law, as gratuity for the fees and care he extended to her.

Chikonyora decided to run away from home because she did not agree to the idea of being married off and be in a polygamous marriage .She came to Harare to stay with her uncle. It was then that she met her husband who was a temporary teacher who passed on in 2009. As a widow, she faced challenges of staying at her communal land in Macheke. Her husband’s brother wanted to take away her land and went to the Chief to try and deregister her off the land. Chikonyora is still in occupation of this land, however relations have gone sour with the brother. As Women and Law in Southern Africa (WLSA) Zimbabwe our primary objective has been to provide free legal aid support for women facing inheritance and maintenance challenges.The constitution provides for such in section 26 (d) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe; which states that, “the State must take appropriate measures to ensure in the event of dissolution of marriage whether through death or divorce, provision be made for the necessary protection of any children and spouses.

As she sets her eyes on councillorship, Chikonyora said, “I am a determined woman. I did my diploma when I was an adult student. It is important to acquire and apply education. These are some of the values I share with fellow women in particular. It is never too late to better oneself,” she said. It is these life challenges that eventually moulded Chikonyora into a determined woman now.Hopefully, with the first step she has taken to seek public office, her wish to grow her political career will be realised. She hopes to rise within the ranks and occupy the highest political office.