“I am not a political shark” says Zimbabwe legislator who has represented three different opposition parties in 20 years


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Following its merger with the Zimbabwe African People’s Union in 1987 and the abolition of the 20 seats reserved for whites, the new party, which retained the name ZANU-PF, won 117 of the enlarged house of 120 seats.  ZAPU had been ZANU-PF’s main rival winning 20 seats in 1980 but dropping to 15 in 1985.

The House was enlarged following the abolition of the Senate.

ZANU-PF increased its majority in 1995 by winning 118 of the 120 seats. But the year 2000 was different. ZANU-PF faced its first defeat in February when it lost its bid to change the country’s constitution in a national referendum. Then in June, it won 63 of the 120 contested seats.

Misihairabwi-Mushonga represented Glen Norah. The other six women who joined her were Thokozani Khupe (Makokoba), Getrude Stevenson (Harare North), Paurina Mpariwa (Mufakose), Hilda Mafudze (Mhondoro), Evelyn Masaiti (Mutasa), and Nomalanga Mzilikazi Khumalo (Umzingwane).

She retained the Glen Norah seat in 2005 but lost in the 2008 elections. The MDC had split two years earlier and she had joined the minority faction led by Arthur Mutambara. The faction won only 10 of the 210 contested seats while the main opposition led by Morgan Tsvangirai won 100 seats, beating ZANU-PF which won 99. The remaining seat went to an independent candidate.

Misihairabwi-Mushonga, however, bounced back as a non-constituency member the following year when Zimbabwe formed an inclusive government that brought together ZANU-PF and the two MDC factions. She was appointed Minister of Regional Integration and International Cooperation.

She moved from Harare to Matebeleland South in the 2013 elections and was elected a non-constituency member under the proportional representative system introduced by the new constitution crafted the same year and approved in a national referendum.

Though she had risen to secretary-general of the MDC, now led by Welshman Ncube, Misihairabwi-Mushonga had a difficult time and decided to quit politics ahead of the 2018 elections. She, however, found herself back in politics when she decided to help Thokozani Khupe in her presidential bid.

“I had actually intended to step down from politics and I meant it,” she said. “I was done. I had had my time and I felt I had done what I needed to do. Zvandakanga ndatadza ndakanga ndatadzawo (If I had  failed in a few things that was it).”

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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