In a historic turn of events, three inspiring women have been elected to the Redcliff Council following the implementation of a women’s quota. Their election marks a significant step towards diversity and gender equity in local politics. These elected candidates, Josephine Mutangamira, Locadia Mukwapuna Mguquka, and Ruvimbo Keti, are now ready to work with women for a more progressive and inclusive future for Redcliff.
Keti is ready to work with the marginalized women in the Redcliff community including vendors, sex workers, and persons with disabilities amongst others. She has experience in advocating for women’s rights in the marginalized communities. Speaking in an interview with this publication, she said that she aims to motivate women to rise and stand for themselves so that they can make an impact on their families, and in the community.
“I am grateful to President Mnangagwa for giving us this opportunity as women through this quota system. As the youngest woman in the Redcliff constituency, I feel privileged to work with the community. There are so many issues affecting women that we witness in our areas but without solutions. Now that we are part of the decision-making board I will make sure that I push forward the voices of women.
“In Redcliff, there are so many women who need assistance for their social well-being, for example, sex workers, vendors amongst others because they are being left out in the community. These women need someone who can assist them to show that they are capable of uplifting themselves. So as long as these women are capable we will push forward through this avenue so that women can be given a fair share.
“The major challenge why women are not interested in venturing into politics is because many of them are afraid of being labeled names. The majority of the women when they join politics are labelled prostitutes. So as leaders, and through this role, we will also show people in the community that we can be leaders who possess good character, and attitude. So I am sure that we will motivate more women so that whenever the opportunity of elections come, they will all be willing to be part of politics,” she said.
Ensuring gender equality and empowering women is a crucial component of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and it extends to the realm of politics as well. SDG 5, which focuses on achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls, directly supports women’s participation in politics. According to Keti by supporting SDG 5, there is a need to create a more inclusive political landscape where women can actively engage in decision-making processes.
Mguquka, has experience in teaching, and through the women’s empowering programs that she and her colleagues implemented last year, is eager to continue. Speaking in an interview with this publication Mguquka said a lot of women in the Redcliff constituency are not aware of their certain rights especially when it comes to issues of inheritance where women are being bullied by husbands’ relatives.
“They say ‘When you educate a woman you have educated a nation’. As a teacher there is a program that we kick-started last year, engaging women to come and be empowered so that in the future they are able to go to tertiary institutions so that they can build their lives as women. We have bright women in our community, who did not get the opportunity in life so we have to empower them. We also need to educate women on their rights, empowering them on issues to do with inheritance, because many of them lag behind on such issues. So we will try to engage our honorable MP (July Moyo) to invite lawyers who can come and teach them about their rights. This will also empower them to understand the constitution, and their rights because many of them are having their rights infringed especially when it comes to inheritance. For example, a husband may die and the relatives will demand the house from the wife, who does not know what to do, or where to go in that situation. So we have to assist women, and make sure that they are empowered,” said Mguquka.
The closure of Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company (ZISCO) led to several challenges in Redcliff, chief amongst them unemployment. The majority of families in Redcliff are finding it difficult to cope with the harsh economic conditions. Furthermore, water woes have continuously persisted affecting women more. According to Mguquka, there is a need to address this challenge so that it becomes easy on the women who are bearing much of the brunt.
“Water is another serious challenge here. As mothers, they have to cook and wash for their families, but water is scarce. So will lobby the central government to assist us so that we get access to water, and so that the women benefit. There is also a need for more boreholes in our community so that it becomes easy for the mothers because they are the ones bearing much water woes. When water is available, it becomes easy for them to do gardens, even in urban setup, they are also supposed to come up with nutritious gardens so that they can feed their families. Women face these challenges, but their issues are being neglected, so we want to empower these women in order to see their value in society and not get bullied by men.
Mutangamira also echoed the same sentiments when she stated that when water becomes available she will ensure that women are involved in income-generating projects that can assist families in the Redcliff community. She said that this is no longer the time for politicking, but she instead advised all women in the Redcliff constituency to come together despite political affiliation and work towards a common goal in implementing incoming-generating projects that cater to everyone.
“We are grateful to the government for giving us this chance as women to represent each other. Our main goal is to find ways of assisting women and alleviating our households from poverty. There are projects that we have learned and given the chance to initiate. Something like a garden at home if we can have gardens at our places, nutritious gardens that comprise a variety of vegetables, even those herbs. So with these gardens, you do not have the pressure to buy vegetables, and fruits at the market so I think that is the first issue of alleviating poverty. We can also approach the authority to accord us more land so that we can have more gardens at a larger scale, where we can plant maize which we can sell at GMB after harvest.
“My thrust is on engaging women so that we can come up with income-generating projects. There is also a chance with the women’s bank where women can open accounts and apply for loans. Amongst ourselves, we have people who are experienced with cash flows, and business projects, so we can anchor on those people to assist us in order to get our loans from the women’s bank. While at the bank there are also financial advisors who will advise on how to advance with our projects until we get to the corporate level of business. Political campaigns are over and I want to urge all women to engage in projects that assist their families without considering any party affiliation. This is the time to look at your development as a woman so that you find ways of assisting, and feeding your family. It is difficult for fathers to care for the family when the mother is not working, but if as a woman you work hard, even the life expectancy of your husband will improve because you have removed another burden on him,” said Mutangamira.
Redcliff council comprises 12 councilors, including the three women Mutangamira, Mguquka, and Keti from the women’s quota and all the three are from Zanu-PF, while the other nine are from CCC. However according to Mguquka, though they are the minority in the council it does not have to affect their work towards developing the Redcliff community. She said that there is a need to build consensus amongst all the councilors so that they work towards a common cause.
“Yes we are the minority in the council, but we will try to work with our opposition counterparts so that we develop our community. I think there is also a need for team-building workshops so that we can work together, and forget about the politics that we had during the August election fever. We are now representing the whole community, and starting something new, so we will work with our colleagues from the opposition together,” she said.
The three elected candidates bring unique perspectives and experiences to the Council. Their shared dedication to serving the community and commitment to building a more inclusive Redcliff resonated strongly with voters during the election.