THE just-ended elections left the majority of female politicians traumatised and dejected.
A recent media interface organised by the Gender and Media Connect (GMC) opened a can of worms as female politicians narrated their ordeals and experiences during the election period.
Some could not hold back their tears as they recalled the pain they endured before and during the plebiscite.
According to the female politicians, the terrain was bumpy for most candidates — from candidate selection to the voting day.
They experienced a plethora of challenges, among them victimisation, violence, lack of funds, lack of support from political parties and lack of freedom of expression.
Speaking during the meeting, Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) ward 17 councillor for Bulawayo, Sikhululekile Moyo said she at one point considered pulling out of the race due to various challenges she experienced.
“I am not free, I am not happy and at one time I remember after the elections, I wanted to resign because of the pain I was having, intimidation from men and victimisation. After winning you continue to be victimised, get threatened with this and that,” Moyo said.
Moyo added that most women politicians were suffering in silence.
“It’s important that women can lead, but they face a lot of challenges. At the moment, it’s been mentioned that we can go for counselling and there are counsellors that can deal with me. I had not thought about it because I have a problem. You are elected into council, you don’t have freedom to speak, otherwise we can’t even speak because we are told what to say.
“I am in the CCC led by Nelson Chamisa. It’s so sad that when you are a woman you want to lead and on primary election time you have to stand by your own because those women you think will assist you will be also suffering in their own corner. There is nowhere to report to. The families, the support system, the friends, especially in my case I had the support structure from the community, the women and the young women.”
“I had 100% support from the community. The grassroots knows the issue of supporting other women. The party is nowhere near us because the time when you break down or you feel it is difficult, they take a chance,” she said.
Nompilo Bhebhe who was campaigning under Zimbabwe African National Congress (ZANC) echoed the same sentiments saying she wishes the situation to change for the next generation.
“On August 23 , when I woke up to vote, I found a heap of fliers inside my yard. There were some youths who were also singing 20-30 metres away from my house. I asked them what was happening, they were like “Uzasenzani? (what will you do to us?). Imagine the intimidation.”
Gender and Media Connect programmes officer Kudzai Muchenjekwa said the event was mainly to converse with female candidates who participated in the recent harmonised elections.
“So the workshop was mainly to hear the experiences of female candidates post-election. And just as a way of capacitating them to continue encouraging them to participate in elections, whether they won or they lost. For them to continue with the elections despite the winning or losing,” he said.
Though Moyo made it to the council chambers, it was not all rosy as her journey was marred with traumatic experiences that will continue tormenting her even after quitting politics.