As 2013 comes to an end, it’s an important time to take stock of some of the developments – both good and bad – that took place in that last twelve calendar months. While that interrogation more often happens from a personal perspective, the list below points to some issues that got us happy, upset, angry and inspired either as Zimbabwean women, or on behalf of our nation’s women, this year.
This is by no means an exhaustive list and additions are welcome – as comments below the article – to add to what has been compiled here.
Arts and Culture
NoViolet Bulawayo receives acclaim for her debut novel, ‘We Need New Names’
The year 2013 brought much success for Bulawayo, winner of the 2011 Caine Prize for African Writing, with the debut of her novel ‘We Need New Names’. Shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award, ‘We Need New Names’ was also named by the New York Times as one of its 100 notable books for 2013. Bulawayo also made history by becoming the first black female African to be shortlisted for the prestigious Man Booker Prize. Forbes recently named Bulawayo one of its 20 Young Power Women from Africa.
Dudu Manhenga jailed and then released
The year in which popular musician, Manhenga, launched her gospel career with the album ‘For You’ was marred by the controversy of her arrest and sentencing to 24 months in jail after pleading guilty to charges of culpable homicide. In 2010, Manhenga is said to have driven unaccompanied, on a learner’s drivers’ licence, and hit a motorcyclist after failing to give way. The cyclist later died in hospital from his injuries. In the same month as the conviction, Manhenga was granted bail by the High Court pending an appeal against her sentence.
Chiwoniso Mararire dies
Arguably Zimbabwe’s best known contemporary mbira instrumentalist, Maraire died unexpectedly in July. The daughter of renowned Zimbabwean mbira teacher, Dumisani Maraire, Chiwoniso’s illustrious career was set in motion by the album ‘Ancient Voices’ which spurned classics like ‘Mai’, ‘Tamari’ and ‘Wandirasa’, her work featured on soundtracks to important Zimbabwean movies such as ‘Everyone’s Child’. A later album ‘Rebel Woman’ earned Maraire further acclaim. Her death came just over a year after that of former husband and fellow musician, Andy Brown, marking a poignant end to an important chapter of Zimbabwe’s musical history.
Hope Masike sets the pace for Zimbabwean music
Vocalist and mbira player, Masike continued to establish her rising star this year with concerts across Europe and Africa, both individually and with the band Monoswezi, of which she is a member. Earlier in the year, Masike won the 2013 National Arts Merit Award (NAMA) for Outstanding Female Musician. In September she announced a new creative take to her music which would infuse various contemporary and traditional genres. Already seen as the natural heir to Maraire’s mbira throne, Masike’s new musical interpretation sees her take on the moniker of ‘The Princess of Mbira’.
Zuwe Re wins the UK BEFFTA for fashion
The UK-based fashion designer won the 2013 UK Black Entertainment Film Fashion Television and Arts (BEFFTA) award for best female fashion designer. In an interview with Her Zimbabwe earlier in the year, Zuwa Re (born Fungai Munyoro) – a mother of three – said that due to the multiple roles that women often occupy, it is harder to break out as a female fashion designer. Optimistically, she stated that she hoped that this would soon change.
Politics and Activism
Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda vies for UN Women leadership position
In a spirited campaign that garnered much local support, Gumbonzvanda – Secretary General of the World Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) – stood for the prestigious position of UN Women Executive Director after the sudden resignation of former head, Michelle Bachelet, earlier in the year. The post eventually went to former South African Deputy President, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, stirring some debate locally about the selection procedures used by the UN. Bachelet has since been re-elected as President of Chile.
Legal Age of Majority Act turns 30
Not quite from this year, but close enough, the Legal Age of Majority Act (LAMA) turned 30 at the end of last year on December 10. The Act – from 1982 – broke new ground for women following the attainment of Independence in 1980, conferring adult status on all Zimbabweans over the age of 18, thus paving the way for women to enjoy equality in property ownership and the ability to vote.
A new constitution for Zimbabwe backed by the women’s lobby
After a complex process of consultations spanning almost four years, Zimbabwe gained a new constitution in March of 2013. Various women’s lobby groups including the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ) were at the forefront of encouraging women to vote yes for the new constitution which includes women-specific provisions such as female quotas for parliamentary representation and the establishment of a Zimbabwe Gender Commission.
Zimbabwe gets first female Brigadier General
In September, Shailet Moyo became the first female to hold the rank of Brigadier General in the Zimbabwe National Army after her appointment by President Robert Mugabe. Brigadier Moyo fought in the liberation struggle and joined the army in the early 1980s, immediately after Independence.
Outrage as 10-year-old Stacey Munjoma is raped and murdered
News of the brutal rape and murder of 10-year-old Munjoma in February brought renewed urgency to the fight against sexual violence in Zimbabwe as activists came together with Rugare residents to protest against the atrocity, as well as organise online to seek justice for Munjoma.
Munjoma’s body was found dumped in a maize field in the Harare suburb of Rugare. A post mortem report revealed that she had died from bleeding, trauma and excessive shock. A suspect in the case was arrested in May. In findings made by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Office (ZimStat) in 2012, it was revealed that at least 15 women are raped in Zimbabwe daily.
Tinopona Katsande sex video leak causes stir
After a sex video leak in September, radio DJ and actress Tinopona Katsande (popularly known as Tin Tin) became embroiled in a controversy that spurned discussions around Zimbabwean women’s sexuality, media ethics and privacy rights. The tape, leaked to popular Harare tabloid ‘H-Metro’, has since been viewed and shared on various platforms including Whatsapp. The night before details of video were made public, Katsande released a statement via social media stating that the phone featuring the video had been stolen from her. As a result of the video, Katsande was suspended from her job as DJ with ZiFM radio station.
Bona Mugabe’s pending marriage makes headlines
After leading a relatively private life, the 24-year-old only daughter of the first family was in the media’s full glare this year for two main reasons; her virginity status and the value of lobola presented to her family for her hand in marriage to Emirates pilot, Simba Chikore. However, it was probably the former that caused the most controversy as First Lady Grace Mugabe used a women’s conference to publicly dispel rumours that Bona had been raped in the past, declaring that her daughter was still a virgin. Prior to this announcement, which made front page news, it was widely reported that a total of $35 000 and 15 head of cattle had been requested of the Chikores for Bona’s hand in marriage.
Women charged $5 per scream during childbirth
In a story widely reported by the international press, a Transparency International Report announced that a local hospital is charging women $5 every time they scream while giving birth. The Ministry of Health is reported to have initially shown little interest in taking action against the matter.
New cabinet features less women
Though women constitute the majority of Zimbabweans, their numbers in the nation’s new cabinet hardly reflect this, with three out of a total 26 ministers (about 12%) being female. In a slim line cabinet shrunk from 33 members, the only females are Oppah Muchinguri (Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development), Olivia Muchena (Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development) and Sithembiso Nyoni (Small and Medium Enterprises and Cooperative Development). Flora Bhuka sits as Minister of State in the President’s Office.
Media and Sport
Cara Black named National Awards Sportsperson of The Year
Ten-time tennis doubles grand slam champion, Black, this year won the 2013 Annual National Sports Awards Sportswoman and Sportsperson of The Year awards. Black’s doubles titles for the year include the Pan Pacific Open and China Open.
Soneni Gwizi selected as UNWTO brand ambassador and wins Women4Africa Award
An outspoken radio personality for Spot FM and advocate for the rights of people living with disability, Gwizi was selected as one of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) celebrity brand ambassadors in the build up to the UNWTO General Assembly jointly hosted by Zimbabwe and Zambia this year. Earlier in the year, Gwizi was the 2013 winner of the highly contested Women4Africa Award in the Recognition for Outstanding Achievement category.
Edna Machirori wins Lifetime Achievement Award for courage in journalism
In October, Machirori was conferred with a lifetime achievement award by the US-based International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) for her service to journalism in Zimbabwe. Machirori, who sits on the board of the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe (VMCZ), was the first black female editor of a newspaper in Zimbabwe and news editor of the Bulawayo-based ‘Chronicle’ newspaper at the time the publication broke the infamous 1988 ‘Willowgate’ scandal which incriminated several government officials in a scheme that involved illegal resale of vehicles for profit.
Tabitha Tsatsa wins Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon
A drugs scandal that saw initial marathon winner, Russia’s Natalia Volgina, stripped of her title reaped good fortune for Zimbabwe’s Tsatsa whose second place finish in a time of 3h 39m 57s, was elevated to the winner’s position. Volgina tested positive for a banned anabolic steroid.
Zimbabwe Association of Female Photographers (ZAFP) launches
The first female photographers’ association of its kind, ZAFP launched in May with about 25 female members, both professional and amateur. With a mission to “create a platform for female photographers in Zimbabwe to work together and support each other as a means of furthering their professional careers”, ZAFP has successfully hosted exhibitions over the course of the year, the most significant being the ‘Before And Aftermath’ exhibition which provided visual social commentary on the 31 July harmonised elections.
Her Zimbabwe Social Media Stories
Should maids kneel for their employers?
In a thread that attracted 150 comments, we asked our following for their thoughts on the issue of maids kneeling for their employers, both male and female. The debate raised various perspectives on the matter, with questions raised around whether the practice perpetuated patriarchy, or whether it was rather a necessary sign of respect and authority.
Mini skirts and sexual abuse
After a young woman wearing a mini skirt was stripped to her underwear with a hoard of hwindis (kombi touts) touching her in her private parts, a debate ensued around what the mini skirt signifies in contemporary Zimbabwean society.
Over 200 comments were elicited on our Facebook page when ZANU-PF youth Sheila Mutsenhi stripped to her underwear in protest to US Ambassador Bruce Wharton’s visit to Mutare. Mustenhi vocalised concerns around what she termed illegal sanctions against the nation. What followed was a conversation that brought participants to interrogate – among other issues – ownership of the female body, connotations of the unclothed female body in protest, and many other issues.
Photograph credits are as follows;
Photograph of Chiwoniso Maraire reproduced from www.mg.co.za. Zimbabwean woman voting is taken from www.telegraph.co.uk, that of Stacey Munjoma is from the Facebook Page ‘Justice For Stacey Munjoma’, while the photograph of Soneni Gwizi is from www.thezimbabwean.co. That of ZAFP members is derived from their Facebook page, while that of Sheila Mustenhi is taken from www.nehandaradio.com.