Feminism in Zimbabwe overrated

When MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa said he would be willing to give his 18-year-old sister to his rival President Emmerson Mnangagwa should the latter attain at least 5% of the votes in the historic presidential poll conducted on July 30, feminists went berserk.

Chamisa`s sexist comment dominated headlines for close to a week, with feminists and gender activists accusing the young politician of objectifying and denigrating women. As an individual who wishes to be part of those in the truth telling business, I have to admit that incident was a turning point for me — because it was courtesy of it that I leant the meaning of the word ‘feminism’.

Chamisa might have crossed the line in using his ‘teenage sister’ as a bet, but his sentiments were somewhat exaggerated. In my view, it was just political banter in which his aim was to undermine his opponent and attract the attention of the electorate. Chamisa was just trying to emphasize that Mnangagwa would not win in the harmonised plebiscite in which both were the front runners. He was lambasted for it anyway.

August 1 2017 will forever be remembered as one of the darkest days ever in Zimbabwe’s history. Hundreds of protestors brought business in the central business district to a halt protesting against the alleged late release of election results by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC). The Zimbabwe Defence Forces stepped in and unleashed live ammunition to disperse the protestors. Protestors accused the electoral governing body of falsifying the parliamentary election results.

The shootout reportedly claimed the lives of more than six people and injured an unknown number.

Among the victims who succumbed to injuries from the shooting, the first to be identified was a woman — Sylvia Maphosa (52).

When the news of the death of Maphosa broke, I expected a huge outburst of anger from feminists. I thought feminists would react to the tragedy through press conferences or other media platforms. I was not expecting them to react because Chamisa was under fire from feminists, previously, but seeing that a life had been lost this time around.

If feminists were capable of holding press conferences and putting on labelled t-shirts reprimanding Chamisa`s sentiments about betting on his sister, a sister who I doubt he has in the first place, what sort of reaction would one expect from them after a woman lost her life after she was allegedly shot in the back? To my big surprise, there hasn’t been any reaction to that by any feminists.

Given that feminist sentiment skyrocketed after that Chamisa scandal, it is a big shock that no feminist organisation has come out to condemn the atrocities of August 1.

If feminists conduct themselves in a manner that reflects political affiliation, then their undertakings can win an award for the ‘time wasting activity of the year’. The fact that they have disappeared into thin air all of a sudden after one of the most appalling disasters in post-election history questions their integrity. The feminists’ deafening silence and the no-show of labelled t-shirts or press conference in the context of Maphosa`s death shows feminism in Zimbabwe is somewhat overrated.

About the author:

Lawrence Tichaona Mangenje writes in his own capacity and can be contacted on email lawmangenje10@gmail.com. Twitter @LTMangenje. The opinion or views expressed on this platform are those of the contributing Authors or organisation . They do not necessarily reflect the views and policies or the position of Gender and Media Connect.