A violent welcome to Zimbabwe politics

Published: 01 July 2018
Politics is not for the faint-hearted or lily-livered.

For Mrs Vimbai Tsvangirai-Java, the move from being a pastor to fighting for the right to be the MDC Alliance's representative for the Glen View South National Assembly constituency was particularly unpleasant.

Considered an outsider in the constituency and a Jane-come-lately, she found herself in a bare-knuckle fight and battle of wills with seasoned opposition activist Mr Gladmore Hakata, who was also eyeing the constituency.

As with other primary contests in the opposition, the June 2 internal poll it was a bloody affair that left several people in need of medical attention and much property destroyed.

"It was only unfortunate that I was gaining a lot of ground in Glen View and some of my opponents resorted to violence. But I don't believe in violence; I don't think that's the right way to handle issues," said Mrs Tsvangirai-Java, daughter to Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, the late founder and former leader of MDC-T.

"Intra-party violence for me is against my father's wishes. I take it from him. My father is my mentor; he was my political mentor. Morgan Tsvangirai was a man of peace; he was not a man of violence.

"I don't believe in violence; as a party, we don't believe in violence. It's only that sometimes, people come with those different elements of violence in the party," she said.

According to a report released last week by the NGO the Zimbabwe Peace Project, MDC-T was the major perpetrator of political violence in June, with at least 16 cases of intra-party violence being reported compared to three in Zanu-PF.

Mrs Tsvangirai-Java disputed assertions that she was a political novice.

"I did not start politics today. I have always been in politics since the formation of MDC. In fact, when my father started politics way before 1999, he called us as a family - meaning uncles, aunties, grandparents.

"Everyone was called and he sat us down and told us that 'this is what I want to do, I want to get into full-time politics; we are forming MDC as a party'.

"We were the first supporters and members of MDC when it was formed, so we did not start politics today, we have always been there behind the scenes…

"I was the informal secretary of my father. We came for him here when my mother passed on, I came back to Zimbabwe and I have been working with my father. So handling politics, church and everything else has always been part of me."

Mrs Tsvangirai-Java said if elected, she would improve service delivery with regards to water, drugs and infrastructure.

Part of the plans include launching a drug rehabilitation centre and a cancer fund for the constituency.

But to become MP, she will have to defeat Zanu-PF's Dumisani Chipango, as well as Mr Hakata, who has is standing as an independent candidate.

She bemoaned the lack of women in decision-making positions. All seven principals in the MDC Alliance are male.
- zimpapers
Tags: Tsvangirai,


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