ALTHOUGH Paurina Mpariwa made a decision not to contest for a legislative position in the 2023 general elections, she has revealed that her journey in politics has not yet come to an end.
REGINA RUMBIDZAI PASIPANODYA
Mpariwa is now a self-appointed mentor and consultant, focusing on grooming young women into political leadership.
“At this stage after 23 years as a legislator I feel that it is now time that I share with other women what I have learnt in politics, and with this initiative I will not only focus on the women in my party, but even outside the MDC-T. I decided that I will remain available also to the civil society who do work to mentor other members of Parliament, and this is not a secret,” said Mpariwa.
Born in 1964, Mpariwa was a legislator for Mufakose constituency from 2000 until 2013 and she was nominated as a senator through proportional representation (PR) the MDC-Alliance ticket.
However, Mpariwa, who is still the vice-president of MDC-T, seems to have prepared her retirement as a legislator after she decided not to contest for any position in the 10th Parliament.
She is now a lecturer of ideology, as well as a mentor and consultant.
“I did not file for my nomination in this year’s election because I believe that I have contributed enough as a political leader and have played my role as a mother and a woman of the country as well as in my constituency,” she said, adding:
“I will help other women grow by imparting the knowledge that I have gained over the years, making them understand how to remain relevant in politics as well as how to be effective in their own circles like in the constituency, how to carry out a campaign, how to win the hearts of the people in a campaign among other things.”
During her tenure as a legislator, Mpariwa said she had managed to groom several women to take up leadership positions.
“I think it is high time that I pave the way for new blood and young leaders and I am happy and confident that during my tenure I had women as councillors in other political wards,” said Mpariwa.
Mpariwa is one of the pioneers of the formation of the MDC in 1999 under the leadership of Morgan Tsvangirai.
At that time, she was a unionist, fighting for the rights of workers.
“The formation of the MDC party was an idea that we got from the late Zimbabwe president, Robert Mugabe, because when we had gone to the State House with a petition as labour unionists, he told us to start our own party which would represent workers,” she said.
“He said ‘I am tired of talking to you, start your own political party that will represent the interest of workers’ and this is how the MDC was formed.”
Since then her passion, commitment and determination have seen her career in politics flourishing and becoming one of the most influential politicians in the country despite the harsh political environment she faced as a woman.
In 2009, she was appointed minister of Labour and Social Welfare as part of the national unity government.
Mpariwa was also chairperson for the Women’s Parliamentary Caucus, chairperson of Women in Law and Development in Africa (Wildaf), deputy chairperson of the parliamentary portfolio committee on Labour, parliamentary deputy whip, and Pan-African Parliament rapporteur for Health, Labour and Social Welfare.
At one time, she scooped a medal as one of the best committee chairpersons in the 8th Parliament.
“Do you know that Jacob Mudenda, the Speaker of Parliament, is not an easy person to please, but when I was chairperson for the parliamentary portfolio committee for Public Accounts, I was awarded a medal for producing results, making follow-ups, and actually making institutions jump,” said Mpariwa.
“This is just who I am when I am given a responsibility. When you are a chair, you need to do oversight and summon ministries, the local government authorities and corporates, for the committee to conduct an analysis to understand whether there was deliberate neglect of duty or whether there was theft or fraud and all these things should be categorised and you present findings to Parliament.”
Professionally, she trained in personnel management, industrial relations, business studies, para-legal work, social work, finance and computers.
“Working across different political divides as the legislator for the MDC, as a minister in the Government of National Unity and also senator for the MDC-Alliance has made me understand political issues better,” she said.
“However, what I have seen and experienced all these years shows that politics is not favourable to us as women and up until the ground is levelled it still remains difficult for women to grow in politics.”
Added Mpariwa: “Recently, we have seen recalls of several legislators by Sengezo Tshabangu claiming to be the secretary-general for Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC), and nothing much can be done about that since the constitution of Zimbabwe allows that. But these recalls have also affected women whom we thought have done their best this year, which saw a decline in women’s participation in politics as compared to previous years in penetrating in the political leadership.”
Mpariwa’s vast knowledge and experience in politics that she gained over the years have capacitated her to become a role model as she is managing small projects like running an early child development school for children with disabilities.
“Because it is my passion to promote the rights of people including persons with disabilities and this passion developed when I was minister of Labour, I signed the ratification of the Act on the people with disability, so I’m running with that as well,” she said.
Mpariwa is also running a poultry project as well as a clothing business.
*This article was supported by the Canadian Embassy in Zimbabwe in partnership with the Centre for Public Interest Journalism (The NewsHawks)