Holly Dzuda, Zimbabwe

Holly Dzuda, Zimbabwe

Date: July 1, 2015
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I am a councillor of Ward 2 in Gweru urban in Zimbabwe. I collect problems from the people within the community and present them to council. I am more active with women’s problems, especially when it comes to their belongings being taken and when there are cases of domestic abuse. I call meetings with the communities, to hear issues and concerns. I am also a full-time housewife.

The Gender Links (GL) Zimbabwe country manager, Priscilla Maphosa came to introduce the organisation in 2009. When she approached the council, we were very sceptical. We thought we would indulge them and just see what they had to say. There are many people and organisations that just come and go, but we took the time to listen to them anyhow.

However, we soon realised that GL was different from other organisations. GL took time to follow-up and it showed their reliability and accountability. Since 2009, we have been working with GL.

When Gender Links approached us they were undertaking research on women in local government. The study was intended to appreciate women in local government and in local authorities and to determine the challenges they meet whilst carrying out their work.

I am the chairperson of Women in Local Government Forum (WILGF). My encounters with GL have provided me with learning experiences that help me in various aspects of this work.

It is refreshing to know that the GL philosophy is to empower women and local authorities to mainstream gender in council work and service delivery. The training GL affords us is continuous.

Gweru Urban Local Authority has two women councillors; women can therefore see that it is possible to go into politics. I hope in the next council elections more women will run for seats in council.

Through my work, people in my ward now see that it is better to have a woman speaking and representing them in council. Women are approachable and they communicate well with the community.

I am making a big difference in council, because I feel respected. When I communicate well, I can see that people appreciate it when you speak to them. Prior to that there was no respect for gender work, and now there really is. The training is paying off, and the visibility too. You do your work because you want to, you are not forced to. You do better at your work when you love what you do. I am self-driven, and I love what I do.

The worst experiences I have had as a politician came about 2 or 3 weeks ago. Local politics is very difficult. We had a fellow party member who went and caused a problem at the local market and it reflected badly on me because I am a councillor and he is also from my political party. The situation was made into something very big and got out of hand very quickly. It was very tough for me. I received a letter dismissing me from the party.

Politics is a very dirty game and being straightforward is difficult, but I need to remain straightforward and transparent. Though I have had to weather the storms, there are some sunny days.

I can handle tense situations.  I am empowered through my GL interactions in my home and in my work. GL has helped me understand that there is no difference between men and I in council. GL has taught us a lot. I am informed about, and I speak freely and openly on issues to do with gender-based violence.

I would like to credit Deputy Prime Minister Mai Khupe who is a beacon of hope. I look up to people like her. Deputy President Mai Mujuru is another person. There are phenomenal women who inspire other women in politics that it can be done.

I want to be a minister of parliament in the future, or a senator. I am not stopping here. I want to be higher up on top so that I can send issues even higher up the ladder. I am not going to be alone, and I want the group of us who are making it up the ladder to represent women fully, and to continue. Maybe I will be president one day too. Who knows?


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