The Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe on October 4 issued a statement calling on MDC leader Nelson Chamisa to apologise to his wife, Sithokozile, over a September 28 incident at a rally in Harare.
Chamisa was about to speak at the MDC’s 20th anniversary celebrations at Rufaro when he acknowledged the presence of his wife before inviting her to greet thousands of gathered supporters.
After Sithokozile, a lawyer, had greeted the crowd and acknowledged the pioneering work of the party’s founding leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his wife, Susan, Chamisa walked up to her and took back the microphone.
“Zvakwana,” Chamisa said, and then turned back to his wife who had returned to her seat, joking: “She almost pre-empted my speech which I came here to make. We thank you Amai, you have greeted the people and also thanked our father Tsvangirai and Amai (Susan).”
The Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe condemned Chamisa for the incident, saying in a statement: “As the women of Zimbabwe, we can only interpret this behaviour to be an act of discrimination on the grounds of gender.
“This case thus represents thousands of women, globally on the frontlines of gender stereotype. Hence, we ask the following fundamental question: if influential highly esteemed men can subject women to such gender stereotype while the whole world is watching, what more behind closed doors?”
Sithokozile, who is a member of the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe, has now written to the organisation expressing “utmost shock” at their statement which she says was issued without consulting her.
Here is her letter in full:
Attention: Ms Ronica Mumbire
The National Chairperson
Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe
13 Bates Road
It is with utmost shock that I learnt of your statement dated October 4, 2019, requesting a national apology and respect for women from Advocate Nelson Chamisa over an incident that happened at Rufaro Stadium on September 28, 2019.
As the person who is purportedly directly affected by the actions of the said Advocate Chamisa, I find the action by your institution inconsistent for a number of reasons outlined below:
I am a fully paid up member of WCoZ. Surely, if you purport to act on behalf of women and allege as stated in your statement that I was heckled, then ought you not to have sought my side of the story? Alternatively, as you conclude that I am a victim of abuse, would not your first port of call have been to offer support to enable me to come out of the abusive circumstances?
I would allege further that in the publication of your statement you have even further abused and traumatised me by making me an object of public ridicule and pity as an “abused wife.”
You seem more worried about a national apology than the welfare of a woman victim who according to you continues to live with an “abuser.” I am further shocked that you have picked this one incident to act on my behalf when there have been other incidents of abuse targeted at me where the WCoZ has chosen to remain silent.
I have been subject of abuse on social media that included body-shaming. I expected on those occasions for WCoZ to have responded with sisterly love and demanded respect for women, but no support was forthcoming.
Earlier this year, The Herald carried a story with a scathing attack on me alleging that I had purportedly used my official position in one organisation to support a partisan agenda, a story that attacked my integrity as a professional woman.
The story was published by the Herald on February 13, 2019, entitled ‘Chamisa’s Breakfast Prayer Meeting: The Untold Truth.’ Again, as a WCoZ member, you would have known that to be false and I expected that you would have come to my defence.
I have also followed other incidents on abuse of women where I personally thought they were of such serious magnitude that WCOZ should have acted but you did not act.
A case in point is the abduction of popular comedian Samantha Kureya where the women’s voice was notably absent. The Herald for instance has on various occasions carried stories that have attacked women using very abusive language. A case in point is the attack on Hon Joanna Mamombe made on June 29, 2019, in an article titled, ‘The Saturday Column: The day cyclone Mthuli came to town.’ Again no response was heard from WCoZ.
Other WCoZ members Rita Nyamupinga and Sithabile Dewa are facing trumped-up treason charges. Again, WcoZ is conspicuously silent.
It is light of the above that your purported sympathy in the press statement you, made on October 4 then exposes your hypocrisy in the whole matter.
If as you say you represent the rights of women, your exploits in this regard must be consistent, holistic and informed. Otherwise they come across as partisan and lacking in all sincerity.
I felt compelled to register my displeasure personally by writing to you directly before I make any public statement on the matter so that we can engage constructively as a member of the movement who has served in it in various capacities.
I await to hear from you.
Sithokozile Thabethe – Chamisa