Paula Macharangwanda – Zimbabwe

Paula Macharangwanda – Zimbabwe

Date: May 29, 2012
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I am a 53 year old councilor for the Harare City Council, and I am one of the female councillors who improved my leadership skills through working with Gender Links. Now, the sky is the limit for me! I am equipped with all the necessary skills that will let me bring positive change into the community. Politics an be a dirty game but it helps me to reach higher levels. This is the most challenging undertaking that I have ventured into, and I was about to surrender if it were not for Gender Links.

After completing my secondary education, I started working as a receptionist at Linnex Hiring Services. After the death of my husband in 2000, life became very difficult, as I was supposed to run all the family affairs. This gave me the strength to look for something that would change my life. This is the time that I got involved with politics, and I was voted into office in 2008. At first, I saw it as a solution to my problems, but it turned out to be wrong. The political road I embarked on keeps winding and doubles back upon itself, and sometimes I even find that my problems multiply.

I first met Gender Links in 2009 at the Harare City Council. This is the when the organisation was doing research on local government. The encounter was convenient, since it came at a time when I was lacking in terms of confidence and essential skills required for running the council office. During the session, I did a genuine analysis of gender issues and seeing the results, I requested for more workshops. I realized very quickly how working with GL was going to shape my political career and develop me into a politician with a difference.

My main role as the councilor is to come up with policies and programmes that will ensure good service provision to the community. I must provide people, who voted me into office, with clean water, well maintained roads, a clean environment in which refuse is collected, and I must come up with income generating projects to uplift people’s livelihoods. However, the implementation of these services is a challenging undertaking, due to resource constrains. Despite all the negative forces at play, I do my best, and have managed to create space at Belvedere shopping centre for market stalls. The project was done through funds from the Constituency Development Fund which was disbursed by the Member of Parliament of that area. This noble idea resulted in the curbing of illegal vending and encouraged people to trade at properly designated areas.

GL has trained me to be able to come up with project proposals that will in turn benefit my community. I always keep the residents at heart as they are the ones I am mandated to serve. My efforts are sometimes frustrated due to sabotage and lack of cooperation from the most influential people, but support from the community encourages me to carry on.

I was once beaten by political rivals when I was carrying out a budget consultative meeting with residents. As if this was not enough, I was arrested for doing a land audit that exposed the corrupt acts of top officials. These terrible experiences hardened me, and made me a fearless woman. Now I am prepared to leave a legacy in the history of Zimbabwe.

While this was definitely a low point for me, and something that really discouraged me in my job, related events encouraged me even more. I helped four female council employees in getting residential stands. These women were failing to acquire stands because men and those who are financially stronger always grabbed everything. I was consulted by people who were not under her ward about land ownership issues, a sure sign that I have developed good leadership qualities. This brought me to the realisation that people need help, and I must give it to them with passion.

Now, I am doing my best to pass on the skills I acquired through working with Gender Links. The projects I was taught to implement will impact positively on the lives of residents. I am now interacting with people for a purpose and I attribute the successes I’ve had so far to GL. I understand that it is my role to make a difference to the lives of both women and men. I have tremendous hopes and expectations for the future, and one element of this is having more workshops with GL. I am planning to participate in the highest levels of the political arena, and I am following the footsteps of my role model Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe. I was born a politician and through me people will embrace genuine Change.




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