Patricia Muchekesi – Victoria Falls Municipality COE

Patricia Muchekesi – Victoria Falls Municipality COE

Date: June 28, 2013
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I am a councillor and Deputy Mayor for Victoria Falls Municipality. My responsibilities entail formulating policy in council. I am responsible for disseminating information from council to the community and vice versa, through the formal structures created by council namely, Ward Development Committee (WADCO), budget consultations and Ward Action Aid Committee. I am delighted to tell you that my community has embarked on income generating projects like market gardening and flea markets because of the efforts that I have put in through council.

I became actively involved in politics in 2000, the same year I was elected as councillor. In 2009, I obtained a Diploma in Executive leadership. I first met GL in 2009 when they undertook their survey on Women in Local Government, which resulted in the publication of the book entitled “At the Coalface: Gender and local government in Zimbabwe.” I have met with GL every other year after that. In 2010 and 2011, I was afforded the opportunity to represent Zimbabwe at the Regional Gender Justice and Local Government Summit in South Africa. These experiences will forever be etched in my heart. Recently, besides this Training of Trainers Workshop, our council had an encounter with GL as they came and taught us about climate change and sustainable development.

I have taken it upon myself to bring transformation by disseminating information on gender to my community. In the process, I have seen other women grow in confidence and have a deeper understanding of their rights. Many women are now able to run their own businesses and be self-sufficient. There are several reasons that have enabled me to instill these values and attributes in my community, but the main reason is the information that I have acquired from GL over the years that I have been in contact with them. This information has empowered me. It has given me the belief and confidence to articulate issues. I can now approach the business community so that they can help the community.

The business of being a politician is not an easy profession. At times life throws lemons at you. I have had trying and difficult times. You see, the most difficult thing that one can encounter is resistance to change. It is that notion that has seen my worst experience as a politician. In 2004, just 4 years after I began my political career, I had a confrontation with council and fellow councillors. It was my endeavour to see a review of the housing forms so that they included women. I faced resistance from within and outside. I was utterly devastated. This was one of my worst memories.

Though the tide may be rough at times, there will always be sunny days. As such, I have had times where the tears and pain have been replaced by triumphs and smiles. One particular instance that saw me ululate in jubilation was the successful initiation of an economically empowering project, which was embraced by the community. When you take a project to the people and give them ownership, they are bound to respond in remarkable ways. Perhaps the greatest success I have achieved to date is when I represented Zimbabwean women councillors in Morocco in 2010 where I was elected into the Women’s Forum of Africa under a program that was being run by the Women’s chapter of United Cities & Local Government Associations of Africa.

Over the last few years I have learnt that people will always appreciate the good in you if you work with them and lend an ear to their concerns. I have often been quoted as saying “when you lead, lead from the back. Let the people decide what they want.” That is what I have learnt. To me GL is like a mother whose love for their children is unconditional. GL builds you, gives you a foundation on which to stand, educates and uplifts you.  I believe that it is my utmost responsibility to change the lives of other women and men, because I now possess the knowledge, which I believe I must impart to the community so as to see change and development. In particular I have to transform men because we need their support.

After all is said and done, I wish to attain my degree in counselling, see my children succeed and be pro-active in gender. I also intend to become a fully-fledged activist. I still want to remain a councillor because being close to people gives you a better understanding of the way of life in communities. All I can say is that the community needs us. Let us give them an ear and support them. Women, let us encourage one another and desist from pulling each other down.

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