Ruth Butaumocho Gender Editor
When Cde Chipo Madiwa enrolled for a Master Degree in Public Policy and Governance in 2014, her dissertation was on policy knowledge levels and skills of legislators in Manicaland. She chose to focus on the topic after noticing shocking levels of ignorance among the sitting Members of Parliament.
She never imagined that one day, she will wear the same hat, albeit on the other side.
Cde Madiwa is the Zanu PF Member of the Parliament elect for Mutasa North, following her election in the just ended harmonised elections, where she romped to victory ahead of four male aspiring candidates.
Hers is a milestone achievement, which she attributed to hard work and determination to effectively carry out the mandated roles of a legislator.
“I will now be able to address the grey areas that I noticed during my research and also fulfil my passion of serving the people,” said Cde Madiwa in an interview in Mutasa North recently.
Cde Madiwa, a renowned community builder, who spent nearly 20 years working in the civil service in different ministries, before hanging the boots to get into politics, said her victory was a result of sheer hard word, determination, and strong networks within her constituency.
From the onset, Cde Madiwa realised that entering into politics as a novice to wrestle the parliamentary seat from seasoned politicians, was not going to be a stroll in the park.
While she boasted of years unquestionable experience in community mobilisation, gleaned from her relationship with various communities during her tenure as director of gender in the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Affairs, Cde Madiwa acknowledged that all would come to nothing, unless she created a rapport with the grassroots support.
Running with the ruling party’s popular thread, “musangano kumasero”, Cde Madiwa hit the ground running when she resolved to run for public office on realisation that the majority of MPs representing the people of Manicaland had no clue what their role in Parliament was.
While some of the aspiring candidates were coalescing with political bigwigs to get a seal of approval, Cde Madiwa went back to her home area of Mutasa North and engaged the community on several projects across age groups in 2015.
“Then I had not publicly declared my intention to stand in as the Member of Parliament for the area,” she revealed.
Her first port of call was the introduction of the Chido Madiwa Tournament, which was a potpourri of sports activities that included football, netball, volleyball, athletics and fun games.
The tourney which debuted in Ward 30 the same year became an instant hit with locals, who were now able to mix and mingle across ages, while revelling in the scenic and ambiance of this rich eastern Highlands Constituency.
“The response was overwhelming and in no time, I was inundated with requests from other wards to hold the tournament in their areas, “she said.
For someone, who had lost the zeal and energy for her job, which was proving to be frustrating than enjoyable, Cde Madiwa embraced the opportunity to make a difference within the community, and redirected her energy to Mutasa North.
Several well organised tourneys punctuated by entertainment from various local groups were to follow in the area.
In less than two years, the tourney had gone viral, attracting thousands of fans every event, what with the huge trophies for the winners that were a major crowd puller.
“It was during that time that I told myself that I was ready to run for public office, with the support from the local community, which was hungry for development,” she enthused.
Cde Madiwa encountered her biggest hurdle after some party officials tried to frustrate her efforts to throw her hat in the ring as one of the incumbent candidates for the ruling party in primary elections.
“The hurdles did not worry me because I knew my support lay with the people.”
Because of the support she had, Cde Madiwa won the primary elections, beating the sitting Member of Parliament Cde Luke Masamvu.
Her victory in the ruling party’s primary elections, gave a competitive edge and firm resolute to up her stakes against five male candidates from various political parties who were vying for the same position.
Some of her contenders included MDC Alliance’s Mr David Chimhini, Mr Shepherd Tapuwa Chideya from ZIP, independent candidates Mr James Masamvu and Mr Paul Chiremba of Code Alliance.
Despite the threat of split votes, Cde Madiwa was determined to land the posts, that not even the presence of “ high hormonal levels of testosterone around her”, could put her off the track.
Cde Madiwa who was now on terra firma in Mutasa North Constituency, also came up with a child empowerment programme, through payment of school fees for various academically gifted kids, from underprivileged families.
The project which initially targeted a few kids from the community, grew and in no time, Cde Madiwa was now receiving requests from various families for assistance. Through her networks, Cde Madiwa managed to mobilise resources from various stakeholders enabling the two projects -the tournaments and the child empowerment programme- to run parallel with each other.
Her determination, perseverance and commitment to the Mutasa North constituency which yearned for development endeared her with the voters, who could now relate to her vision.
The July 30, harmonised elections handed her the victory of the election she had worked hard and planned for.
Cde Madiwa, who earned herself the moniker “Pamukaka” for her femininity and distinguish her from her male competitors, attributed her victory to the community, which believed in her vision.
“If you are passionate about what you are doing and the need to serve people, you will always achieve,” she said.
A holder of two Master degrees in Master of Arts degree in Applied Community Change and Conservation from West Virginia, United States of America, and a Master of degree in Public Policy and Governance, Cde Madiwa believes that her strong networks gave her a competitive edge in the tightly contested election.
“I entered into the race as political minnow, but emerged victorious because of the strong networks that I had invested into, and I am happy to say my victory is grounded in the grassroots. They believed in me and I would not want to disappoint them,” she vowed.
Contrary to long held perceptions that resources are vital in winning an election, Cde Madiwa implored female aspiring candidates to endear themselves with the grassroots support to strengthen and nurture their political careers, even with minimum resources.
“Even to this day, some people still wonder where I campaigned. I did not have to struggle, because I employed result the based management strategy, where people chipped with whatever they had, because they wanted to see the results,” she enthused.
An ambitious and motivated developmental professional with combined women empowerment, gender, community development, policy, advocacy and lobbying experience, Cde Madiwa says she is more than ready to serve the people.
“Mutasa North is endowed with vast natural resources. However within that realm, the Constituency is also heavily weighed down by several challenges.
“We would need to harness water for use by our farmers and also encourage value addition for our produces,” said the mother of three.
“I am empowered enough to change people’s perceptions and also be part of their developmental narrative.”
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