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Woman defies traditional leadership stereotype

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HURUNGWE – Joyce Mamina (59), a female village head in Chief Dandawa’s area of Hurungwe district, is proving that women in leadership can work well in communities to serve the interests of justice at local level in roles traditionally preserved for menfolk.

NHAU MANGIRAZI

In her past two years in office, Mamina, known as Sabhuku Mhosva, who lives in Deve, ward 24, has excelled in the discharge of her duties despite the resistance she initially faced. 

She hails from Deve, a rural outpost located about 100 kilometres west of Karoi farming town.

“The road has not been easy, given that we are living in a patriarchal society. Some men were reluctant to appreciate my rulings. I nearly gave up as I could not stand the heat. When I took over, some males never respected me when I called them to order during traditional court sittings. Some were rude and undermined my authority,” she said.

“It was a challenge and I was about to give up as I felt I had no constituency of my own although I had the mandate from Chief Dandawa. I however decided to soldier on and face the challenges head-on.”

Mamina says Chief Dandawa has also been a pillar of strength as he has encouraged her and other female traditional leaders to be firm while stamping their authority. 

Born in a family of six, Mamina never thought she could land such a powerful traditional post which has made her a focal person for food aid programmes and agricultural input schemes, among other development initiatives that require mass mobilisation.

Mamina took over as village head after the death of her husband Dickson Mhosva in 2019.

“My husband was the traditional leader as a village head here since 2000 after taking from his late father,” she said.

“Following my husband death in 2019, my family decided that I must take over the post as I was acting for six months when my late husband was bedridden. I was around and helped him during his tenure in office. I have three grown-up sons who are working in Harare and Gweru who said they could not come back home to take over their father’s traditional post and I was officially given the reigns by Chief Dandawa late in 2019. He has been our beacon of wisdom as he teaches us how to handle cases without bias for justice to prevail.”

Mamina explained that the “village court” has been functional as usual.

She further explained that before her husband’s death she was already being “groomed” to take over. 

“I was helping him preside over traditional matters brought before him for arbitration, especially social conflicts, boundary feuds, among others. It worked well as I was indirectly being groomed to be what I am today as a traditional head,” Mamina said.

“We have had our village court operating as it used to do during my husband’s days. The jury has always been there and I just work closely with them for guidance and we have never strayed as a committee on judgments.” 

Mamina said her sons are supportive of her role as the village head and do not interfere with her rulings.

“Once in a while when the sons come home they usually ask me what has been going on and are very supportive of my role. It gives them hope and pride because I am just and fair in my approach to justice in the community,” she said.

“My promotion to be substantive village head does not mean to say there are no males in our family. My sons voluntarily gave me the option to take over after their father’s death. Now I have enjoyed it as local villagers support me during our regular developmental meetings. We are now united.

“At times, I take the opportunity to counsel young girls to be wary of early sexual activities that may fuel early marriages.”

She said those who initially undermined or doubted her were now warming up to her work ethic.

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