Zimbabwe: Sikhululekile Moyo

Zimbabwe: Sikhululekile Moyo

Date: September 16, 2019
  • SHARE:

Sikhululekile Moyo
My major driving mission statements are ” To change your experience, change your perceptions” and “Plan your work, work your plan”. I started off as a youth representative in the youth residence association where I gained experience on how to mobilize and lead the youth in my area on civic matters. I also worked with the local leadership the then councillor, residence association chairpersons, church leaders and local authority staff. I also worked with non-governmental organizations that were working in the area. It is here where I attended leadership, community mobilization and other civic matters.

Some of the objectives as a gender activist and councillor are to make sure that the gap between males and females is bridged by ensuring constant engagements with key players in the sociopolitical and economic fields. My vision is to encourage and influence the inclusion of fundamental human rights in the curriculum and also have a massive civic education drive in my ward and beyond. The gender mainstreaming exercise should have government support in all sectors and I intend to intensify the promotion of women to positions of authority.

The nature of my work includes taking part in the good governance of the City of Bulawayo through consultative meetings with the people in my ward. This entails participating in the committee systems of the City Council and regular updates and consultations with my constituents/residents. My roles as a councillor and gender activist also mandate me to be a marriage/relationship counsellor. Many times I have helped patch up marriages and relationships in my ward. I also mediate in disputes amongst landlord and tenants and these are mainly on non-payment of rentals and or in some instances on issues of sexual relationships between landlords and lodgers’ wives or husbands. I have also intervened when the local authority cut off water supplies to the residents due to rates arrears and helped the residents to come up with payment plans. I also conduct monthly meetings in my ward to keep residents well informed about service delivery.

The major challenges have been to try to overcome the historic perceptions that women activists are of loose morals and I have proven my detractors wrong. The challenges also include the allocation or election of women to less influential positions in the organizations and I had to prove that I am also capable of occupying a major position of authority and influence on merit rather than on the so-called affirmative action. The quest to prove myself has been hindered by lack of financial resources to actively campaign against my better-funded male counterparts. The other challenge has been lack of exposure in the male-dominated political field. My line of work has seen me being targeted with some negative comments due to my political and civic activities. These stem from the historical patriarchy societies. However, these have not dampened my work-rate. I have taken every opportunity to attend capacity building programs organized by the council, Ministry of Local Government and non-governmental organizations such as Gender Links, Zimbabwe Women’s Resource Center and Network, Women Coalition of Zimbabwe and others.

Championing gender and being a female councillor has significantly improved my life because I have refused to be relegated into lower echelons of society and this has earned me respect from both my female and male peers. I even refuse to be assigned to less influential roles in my everyday life and this has also given me an opportunity to network with different people and organizations. This has opened up avenues that have brought about personal changes in my life. Networking has enabled me to meet people who have inspired me and motivated me to change.
Linda Sibanda, a Bulawayo based gender activist, is on record saying, “Skhue has matured and grown politically and I think she is ready for the post of Bulawayo’s number one citizen or even a legislative post is definitely for her.”
Championing gender equality has seen my family delegating me to handle sensitive family issues due to my exposure and ability in negotiating and solving disputes. This also applies to my close friends who always ask me to help them in most of the challenges they face in their daily lives. I also give equal opportunities to demonstrate leadership and agency to young members of my family whether they are girls or boys.

My election as a councillor has made people realize that my organization is also embracing gender equity by having a record number of female candidates participating in the last election. The institutional changes are now evident in my organization because at this level we have an almost equal number of positions occupied. Bulawayo City Council has for the first time a record number of 9 female councillors.

Bulawayo is located in a dry region and as a city, we experience perennial water shortages. It is my duty as the chairperson of the Future Water Supplies to ensure that water is conserved and distributed equally among the wards. The local authority rations water and when the reservoirs are exceedingly low we implement a water-shedding program for certain days to allow the amount of water in the reservoirs to pick up. This information is communicated to the residence through newspapers, the council website, social media, notices at council buildings and through the councillors themselves. It is important to communicate to the residence about such drastic measures about water-shedding so that women and men, boys and girls including persons with disability are able to collect enough water before the actual water-shedding starts. This is in line with the council’s disability and gender policies. Council also allocates five thousand litres of free water per household per month to ensure that even the most vulnerable member of the society has water for their basic needs.

I have conducted workshops on safer cities in partnership with plan international. I have also taken advantage of the annual budget consultation meetings in my ward to educate residence on the importance of paying council bills, service delivery, protection of property from vandalism.
The power of networking is one of the lessons learnt by my community. This opens numerous avenues for the empowerment of gender activists. I further learnt that continuing with education allows one to have a deeper understanding of issues. The exposure has also allowed me to appreciate the dynamics of the society we live in. I also learnt that when you become a councillor you become an agent for development in the ward and in the city.

In future, I intend to engage the local authority to enhance its employment of young women. I have also noticed that vocational training centres are poorly equipped and as such I will advocate for prioritisation by equipping these training centres with state of the art machinery. I have further noticed that women in my ward lack funding for their projects, hence I intend to approach the Women’s bank and invite them to my ward to assess these projects for possible funding.