THE NGO NETWORK ALLIANCE PROJECT - an online community for Zimbabwean activists  
 View archive by sector



Back to Index

Taking up a career in politics
US Embassy
June 27, 2013

Politicians on Tuesday shared a panel to discuss careers in politics in a special DefZee Presents Food for Thought Session at the U.S. Embassy Public Affairs Section. DefZee is an online publication for youth in Zimbabwe. The DefZee discussion series is held monthly for youth to hear from working professionals about the nuts and bolts of a wide range of careers.

Tuesday’s session featured three elected politicians and two candidates running for the first time in this year’s elections. The speakers included two women: Honorable Lucia Matibenga, MDC MP for Kuwadzana, founding member of the MDC, and the first Chairperson of the Parliamentary Women’s Committee, and Honorable Sekai M. Holland, MDC-T Senator for Chizhanje, Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister, and one of three co-principals in the Organ for National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration in the Office of the President and Cabinet. There were also three male politicians: Honorable Saviour Kasukuwere, Zanu-PF Minister of Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment, and Member of Parliament for Mt. Darwin; Glen Dhliwayo, an independent candidate running in Highfield West constituency; and Jacob Mafume, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T)’s candidate for Harare South. Nqobile Moyo, the founder and Chairman of Voices in the Vision for Africa (VIVA) Zimbabwe, also spoke about his organization’s support for youth voting and peace building.

Below is an excerpt of the panel’s views on what motivated their interest into politics as well as their take on politics as a career. This is not a complete transcript.

Question: What motivated you to go into a career in politics?

Senator Sekai Holland: …I am in politics to actually clean politics. Politics is not a dirty game - it is the highest calling -- and as long as women and the youth make it what it ought to be - to serve the people - until I lay the foundation for that, I have failed.

Jacob Mafume: I was Director of Constitutional Affairs in the Prime Minister’s Office overseeing and supervising the constitutional process using the Prime Minister’s eyes. I am pleased with what we did. We have produced a new constitution, and I have now decided to present myself as the candidate for Harare South. I have always believed that my goal was to be able to represent people, the interest of the country, and to serve the country as best as I could. That is what inspires me and gets me going as a politician.

MP Lucia Gladys Matibenga: I observed a lot of injustices at the workplace, worse than the injustices that…we fought in the liberation struggle. I joined the workers union and ended up being president of the Commercial Workers Union and later Vice President of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions. I held several positions in the MDC… I was appointed Minister of Public Services. Why I joined politics - panongoita kahondo hondo so, kakudonzerana donzerana so, that inspires me. I take a side and ndorwa ndiriku side iroro.

MP Saviour Kasukuwere: What motivated me was the arrest of my father during the liberation struggle. How he was kicked as I looked at him and put into a truck and I wanted to understand, why dad? As time went I started understanding why we had to go through what we had to go through. In 1997-98, I was one of the leading youngsters with businesses in the country and I faced challenges in accessing capital - how as a young black man in a financial sector dominated and run by a colonial system would discriminate against me. We set Affirmative Action Group as we sought to break the challenges of accessing credit. What pushed me into politics is the desire to serve. I believe we have to change our country. We are the ones to build a country that we can enjoy.

Nqobile Moyo: Voices in the Vision for Africa (VIVA) - we conduct capacity building and peace building workshops for youth. We are looking at things from a balanced perspective, bringing in different views from the social, civic and political side. It is a national platform, not a political platform. We lobby parliament and we demand our space, voice, meaningful participation in these things.

Glen Dliwayo: People are born political. When young people play, that’s political; in the church, that’s politics. My mother was HIV positive and I did not see my father. At high school, I began my political career as a peer educator. Now I am a student engineer and I have been an outspoken person. I was SRC President at my college after being campaign manager for the previous president. Student leaders are always evicted or expelled from school and they have to do a degree that takes eight years to complete because they are always in running battles with the authorities. As a young Zimbabwean, I have a right to participate, and my cause if simple: being the rallying point for youth participation, which is why I took the seemingly silly position of running as an independent candidate in a country where only one independent candidate has made it. The end game is not winning an election. The end game is making a statement that young people in Zimbabwe are ready to become part of national processes.

Question: Is politics a career?

Jacob Mafume: The stories people tell you make you think it’s a mountain. It’s not really that. It is something that an ordinary person can do as long as you have the need to serve the people at heart. You just need to know what society wants and how you can deliver those needs. Some of our politics was stuck in the past, and where I am situated we can deliver better now and, possibly, a better future for our people. In an ordinary story is where the greatest politics is.

MP Lucia Mativenga: Coming from the private sector where I started working, a career has a path. When I look at politics, I can’t say the same. Politics inochinja na five to. When we went for the inaugural MDC Women’s Congress in 2001, the campaign team told me we had all the 12 provinces, but the following morning the chief campaign officer came and said to me, “We are left with eight.” I don’t consider politics as a career. You cannot even tell what tomorrow holds. You don’t know until it is over, until someone raises my hand and says you are the winner. So how do you make a career of that? But for me, there are no painful moments. You can continue your representational role even in defeat.

MP Saviour Kasukuwere: I think it’s a calling…Politics is a game of “you must never give up.” Do you really believe in what you are doing?...It’s about people. You must know what you want to do and deliver…. Some of us are in for the marathon. I don’t exercise for 100 meters; no, long distance, the Comrades Marathon. It’s also about issues; you must identify the issues. I have my reasons why I joined Zanu PF. It is those values that I hold dear in my life…. When I started serving in Mount Darwin, in terms of vehicles, there were no more than 20. Today, I think, on a daily basis there are two or three accidents. This gives me a great sense of accomplishment…. As young people, if you want politics as a calling it means you must remain with the people, remain relevant. They should know you very well. When you go into politics, go in, not for the money, but to serve the people.

Nqobile Moyo: Politics is a career for young people because of the way people in politics have portrayed it. It is for those that have the muscles…But what is important is how you can take that energy that drives you inside to be relevant to the people within your constituency. All that is lost given the dollar sign...

Glen Dliwayo: … it is because of the circumstance that we find ourselves in, especially in Africa, that makes politics a career. Once you get into politics, it disrupts whatever career path you had planned. We cannot run away from the fact that politics has become a career. But should politics be a career? No. It is a calling that should contribute to the affairs of the nation… The tragedy is that those who fight oppression end up being mirrors of the oppressors. In 1999, PM Morgan Tsvangirai was saying President Mugabe had ruled for too long. Fourteen years on, he (Tsvangirai) is still ruling at his party. Where is the difference there?...Young people should redefine politics.

Question: A career in politics is not a place for the faint-hearted, people say. The intense media scrutiny, long working hours, and constant pressure to please are certainly not going to be to everybody's taste. All newspaper front pages start and end with politicians. How do you manage this public glare/ attention?

MP Saviour Kasukuwere: Attention is very exciting by the way. I have been looking forward for somebody to ask me about how I manage the Baba Jukwas of this country. I think at this stage I am the most vilified politician in Zimbabwe. You wake up in the morning. You check Baba Jukwa - Kasukuwere must be there. My mother is supposed to be a n’anga and so on. I do read (Baba Jukwa), I am a politician and a smart one too. I find myself in this limelight because of the portfolio I am in charge of. It naturally would attract much more than what I am going through. It is about the liberation of our people. It’s about the economic independence of our country. For as long as you believe in that cause, I am prepared to die for it. I receive no less than 50 or so calls a day, some insulting me, some insulting my mother, and I have developed a tendency of answering “urikudei”? Ndaitei? That does not worry me. What worries me is the fight on my hands - the empowerment of our people….The attacks on me, my kids - you know, I am family man and I have three kids. We sit on the table in the evening, and my kids are praying. They go to school, and somebody is saying, “Baba Jukwa says his father this and that” - look at the emotional stress. It’s a price we have to pay for our country. I go to my mum and say, “Mama, don’t worry; they have called me everything.” It’s painful…. Whatever they, say, it strengthens me. It gives me the resolve.

Please credit if you make use of material from this website. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.