Ruth Butaumocho Gender Editor
Re-elected Chimanimani West Member of Parliament Cde Nokhutula Matsikenyeri believes gender should not be used as basis for gauging competency in any leadership position. Cde Matsikenyeri who returns to Parliament for the second time after her brief romance with the Lower House in 2016, says despite the historical perception that politics is a domain for men, women are natural politicians and leaders.

“Women are natural leaders. They are  hard-working and can measure up to any task,” said Cde Matsikenyeri during an interview recently.

Cde Matsikenyeri who beat six other contenders — all men — in the just-ended harmonised elections, to retain the Chimanimani West seat, believes that women can do as much, if given the opportunity to lead and implement their ideas.

Cde Matsikenyeri romped to victory when she polled 10 757 votes, in a tightly contested race in the harmonised elections, giving her another five-year mandate to lead the people of Chimanimani West. She attributed her victory to hard work and unique leadership skills, which she said are among women’s greatest attributes.

“Our nation needs to appreciate and value the leadership skills that women have. Communities that have embraced female leadership can attest to increased production right across,” said Cde Matsikenyeri.

A teacher-cum-businesswoman and seasoned politician dating back to her college days, Cde Matsikenyeri’s leadership skills are unparalleled.

In the two years she has b at the helm of the constituency, she made great strides in changing the lives of people in Chimanimani West.

Within that short period and stewarding 13 wards, Cde Matsikenyeri was instrumental in a lot of developmental projects, bringing smiles to hundreds of people nestled in this mountainous and humid community. Realising the problem of water in the constituency, her immediate task was the facilitation of the construction of boreholes in the area, to ensure adequate supply of water.

“I facilitated the drilling of 22 boreholes around the constituency with people from Gudhlanga, being the major beneficiaries.

She said her plans were to have more boreholes drilled, to ease water problems especially in several wards where women and girls travel up to two kilometres to fetch water for household use.

“We have a programme of water harvesting, and we are planning to build weirs in Shinja, Biriri and Nhedziwa Ward 4. These will help people with income generating projects” she said.

To some, hers was a “Sisyphean endeavour” since the constituency she is leading had been literally abandoned by those who were entrusted to bring development to it.

A spirited and determined individual, Cde Matsikenyeri who took over from Engineer Munacho Mutezo, after he was recalled from Parliament in 2016, said when she took over, the constituency yearned for development amid years of neglect.

Although she had been assisting people in the community as early as 2013, before declaring her political interest, Cde Matsikenyeri said Chimanimani West was in great need of development.

“Roads were in a bad state, school kids were travelling long distances to the nearest schools, while lack of water was the biggest challenge.

Through the local community cooperation, Cde Matsikenyeri started goat and poultry projects for women and the youths in several wards, to improve food security at household level.

The community immediately embraced the initiative and in no time, Cde Matsikenyeri was getting requests for the implementation of similar projects in the remaining wards.

“Now that the people have given me the mandate for a second term, we intend to continue along the developmental trajectory and afford the community an opportunity to enjoy the same benefits as any other Zimbabwean,” she said.

Mindful of the perennial water challenges that Chimanimani West face, Cde Matsikenyeri’s immediate task would be to facilitate the harnessing of water for irrigation purposes.

“We are also in the process of starting a crocodile farming project in the area. I am happy to say that we have since secured a market, and we will soon hit the ground running,” said the seasoned businesswoman, who is also into farming.

Cde Matsikenyeri believes with the cooperation of people from the constituency, Chimanimani West is destined for great things.

“There was nothing on the ground when people from Chimanimani West elected me to be their MP. The constituency was as good as abandoned and it was in a sorry state in terms of development.

“Through working with the people and listening to their grievances, we have been able to make positive change,” she said.

However, despite Cde Matsikenyeri’s spirited attempts to transform the constituency, some of the challenges facing the constituency need outside intervention from several stakeholders.

“We have several gardening marketing projects in the constituency. Sadly, we have not been able to get markets for our farmers, and we are calling out to potential customers to come to our rescue.”

A wife and mother to four adult children, Cde Matsikenyeri also bemoaned the problem of unemployment in the area, mainly among the youth.

“Our youth need jobs. There is need for robust projects, which can create employment for hundreds of our youth, who are presently roaming around hopelessly.”

However despite the challenges hovering above her head, Cde Matsikenyeri is ready to take the bull by its horns and lead the people.

“The future is only beginning. There is so much work that we need to do to ensure a better future for the community,” she said.

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