Danisa Mujere – Zimbabwe

Danisa Mujere – Zimbabwe

Date: June 20, 2012
  • SHARE:

Danisa Mujere has been a ZANU/PF councillor for 12 years. At the time of writing, she was serving her third term as the Chairperson of the Tongogara Rural District Council which has equal numbers of women and men councillors. She cites courage, confidence and most of all her leadership skills as the keys to her success.

Mujere recalls how members from her community approached her to stand for the 1998 elections because of her approachable and honest nature. In her first election she stood against four men and one woman and won. The following elections saw her defeat five men and two women candidates.

Patriarchy and culture continue to be barriers for women who have to ask permission from their husbands to participate in community activities. But things are changing. Mujere, for example, initially had to ask her husband’s permission to stand as a councillor. Now he is her biggest campaigner, driving her around and encouraging the constituents to vote for her. She says that this support is invaluable and crucial to her success. And because she has the support of her own husband she is able to travel around her constituency and speak to men about the importance of women’s participation in community activities and development projects.

Mujere believes that being in local government has changed the perceptions that women are not able to address public meetings and participate effectively in local politics. When she became a councillor for the first time there were only two of them, but through calling meetings and encouraging other women to stand for elections and to vote for other women there are now 12 women councillors: half of the rural district council.

The chairperson of the Tongogara council sees education and capacity building as crucial to development and essential for women’s ability to participate in the economy. Because of this, one of her main aims is to train and empower women, something she has done since she worked at the public service training centre in Gweru, teaching women how to sew, cut and design dresses so that they could earn money. Her training extended to women in Shurugwi where her trainee’s won prizes in local competitions. Her skills are not only in the conventional areas usually occupied by women. She has challenged gender stereotypes by branching into small scale mining, something which she is praised for by her community members because of the jobs that she has created for local youths.

Mujere says that one of her main responsibilities as both a councillor and the chair of the council are to raise other women’s issues, especially educating them on their rights and working with them on income generating projects such as garment manufacturing, peanut butter making, poultry, bakeries, gardening, wine making and cattle feeding. A good example of how women are participating and benefitting are the 15 women in her ward who are involved in growing peanuts and producing Mashava peanut butter which they sell to schools and stores in growth points. The gardens that have been established in each ward are also a source of income for women urban farmers who make use of the Tongogara flea market sell their produce and also travel as far as the mines in Shurugwi to vend their products.

The main development issues that she has been pushing in her ward are roads, bridges, boreholes and schools. She has been involved in moulding bricks for building schools. When she became a councillor there was only one school, now there are four, two primary and two secondary schools. There were also no bridges, but she has managed to ensure that the council builds two bridges and that each ward has a borehole. Her goals are to see all rivers having bridges and she is advocating for the dams to be extended to help irrigation.

Mujere meets with her community once a month and the members are free to raise problems and issues which she takes to council. All of these efforts are recognised by her women constituents, who remarked in a focus group discussion that they are continually updated of developments taking place in their community and are always being encouraged to do self help projects some of whom are involved in horticulture programmes, uniform making and few of them in mining as well. The participants also felt that women were better placed than men to help out other women to engage in self help projects and that they get support from female councillors. One participant went so far as to say, “Had it not been for support I got from my councillor, I could have been the laughing stock of the community, failing to take my children to school but now here I am as a widow with all my children going to school, well fed and well dressed”.


Comment on Danisa Mujere – Zimbabwe

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *