Breaking through the male dominated political arena

BUHERA – Despite marginalisation of women in politics, some women have high hopes of changing the country’s political landscape.

Jane Ziki (59) born in Zirabada Village under Chief Ziki in Bikita, Masvingo, is an example of a few strong-willed women who managed to break through the male dominated political arena as one of two female Councillors out of 33 in Buhera district, rural Manicaland.

Ziki, who is the second born in the family of six, did her primary education at Mutikizizi Primary School and secondary education at Pamushana Mission where she dropped out of school at form two due to financial constraints after her father passed on.
She moved to Gombe Village under Chief Makumbe in Buhera to stay with her sister where she met her husband and got married in 1980.

Her love for politics dates back to 1977 when she was a chimbwido during the country’s liberation struggle in Bikita.

After independence, Ziki has held political positions at district level as a political commissar – Women’s League in 1981, Secretary for Women’s League at district level in 1985 and then Vice Chairwoman in 1990, also at district level.

She started contesting as Zanu PF councillor for Ward 5 Buhera district in 2013.

Ziki who came from Masvingo Province where some districts like Bikita and Zaka had a number of female councillors, felt that there was a need for Buhera district to have a female councillor.

She reminisces the struggles she went through in 2013 when she walked long distances throughout the whole ward doing her political campaigns.

“It was hard. I did not own a car, up until now I do not own one. But I could not let that stop me from holding the campaigns. I could not back down just because I did not have a car. That is what I tell my fellow women, that they should not back down no matter what. Men will support you eventually if you resist going backward.

“During election campaigns, MPs are given cars to use, but with councillors it is different. You have to find your own means of travelling from point to point, village to village campaigning,” she says.

Not only did she have to find her own means to meet the voters, the electorate also needed to travel and eat. It was her responsibility to provide transport and food for them.

“When calling for meetings, you also have to provide transport for the people, they also needed to eat. How can you invite people for a meeting without something to eat whilst waiting for you to arrive from wherever you are coming from, on foot on top of that?” she laughs off.

She says the real struggle for a woman aspiring for a leadership position in politics is in establishing herself. She relates to her days in 2013 when she was still an aspiring female councillor in a male dominated political space competing with six men in the primary elections.

Ziki who is now in her second term as councillor says campaigning for the second term in 2018 was not challenging as the voters had confidence in her after her first term.

“Convincing people like you when you have nothing is challenging. Imagine having to travel long distances on foot trying to convince people to vote for you. Do you think people would vote for someone like that leaving the well-resourced men?
“Campaigning in 2018 was a walk in a park. People liked me, they like me,” she says with confidence.

Ziki says having won the 2013 elections as a first female councillor for Ward 5, she won 2018 elections by far as people could notice the difference between having a male leader and having a female leader.

She implemented a number of developmental projects as compared to her male predecessors hence it was easy for her to win the 2018 election.

“Women are results-focused and their developmental works are there for all to see,” she said.

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