It will not be easy: Letter to Thokozani Khupe

Thokozani Khupe

To my sister & friend Thokozani Khupe,

IN August 2014, I wrote a public letter to then First Lady Grace Mugabe on my thoughts as she prepared to become the Zanu PF women’s league boss. I hope she still has that letter.

When National People’s Party leader Joice Mujuru had her congress, I also penned a letter to her. After her loss, I did one to United States presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. I do this also because writing is therapeutic for most women.

Sometimes we pen letters to our lovers because we think a letter can communicate better.

Other times I will write to my significant other and never give them the letter to read, but writing down my thoughts helps deal with my internal pain, so it’s possible that Thokozani could miss this, although I do hope she will read it.

Halala congrats to you, amhlope! Not that you have been elected President, any idiot as we have seen can be elected President or better can declare themselves President.

My congratulations are for how against all the abuse and attacks you have remained strong and held on to what you believe in.

Many of us would have buckled under pressure or simply given up, but you, my sister, have stood firm. I know that April 21 must have been an emotional roller coaster.

It could not have been easy to lose friends that have been part of your life for almost two decades, friends that you were with, in the trenches of the first constitutional referendum, friends you tendered to during the height of Zanu PF brutality.

I know it must have been painful to see and hear that you are now a traitor or worse still, that you are a Zanu PF stooge.

When most of those colleagues throwing stones at you were the first to run away after the elections in 2008, you remained to deal with a Harvest House that had been turned into a refugee camp with people who were not only homeless, but were screaming with pain from gaping wounds inflicted on them for supporting the opposition.

It must be painful to be blamed for things you have not done, especially because I have seen and heard you refusing to take the battle to the courts, and yet I read daily the attacks on how you have been used by Zanu PF to create the legal chaos when you are not the one who took the conflict to the courts.

The way in which you are being attacked for merely defending and seeking to assert your rights is astounding.

I also know first-hand how many women in the women’s movement, including myself, have sought to persuade you to take legal action over the numerous assaults on your person, how we have persuaded you to take these violations to the Human Rights Commission, and you have refused.

I know how you have angrily responded to me when I have said you are behaving like an abused woman who feels reporting an abuse is disloyalty.

I hope as you experience the attacks on you for merely defending yourself and seeking to assert yourself, you now understand that abusers by their very nature don’t reward you for being nice.

I am proud, though, that in all this, you have not sunk to their level and that in all this my friend you have remained calm, dignified and mature, in fact I dare say you have so grown in stature.

I have great admiration for you. I don’t know how you have remained positive, beautiful and feminine.

I watched you walk up that stage in high heels, in fact, highest heels, even I can’t do that high heel anymore and nothing in your face spoke to the pain and stress that these last months have been, it is that which I congratulate you for.

In our tradition, it is on the day of the wedding that the family takes you for some counselling.

Let me, as a sister, counsel you before you embark on this treacherous and challenging road to leadership.

It is easy as you attain the title President to conform to male behaviour.

I was happy to see that at the congress, you did not do the big sofas, that the boys club are now accustomed to throwing at us.

I find those chairs nauseating, to say the least, they are so wrong in every sense of the word, as they represent a big man syndrome and a disgusting sense of self-importance.

Please my friend refuse them.

Avoid those big, burly and rude boys that call themselves security. Other than the fact that they usually are so rude, we all know that it’s a desperate attempt at playing a pretend game, if you were to be attacked they would be the first to run away.

I know our politics is violent and you will need some form of security, surely there must be some security that need not look like you are running a gangster group.

Allow people to call you Thoko, it is OK. That way, title does not become a barrier to people being honest with you.

I love that you have a good number of young women around you, cover them, protect them, they are going to be under attack for choosing to be with you.

Remember, too, that some of the most vicious attacks will be from women. Just remember that many times, what drives sisters is not that they hate you, but that your strength speaks to their fears and vulnerability.

Always know that what they direct to you, is, in fact, speaking to their disempowerment. As former US first lady Michelle Obama said during the Clinton campaign, “When they go lower, go high”.

It does not matter my dear if at the end of the road you are not the winner, remember, what you are doing is giving blows to the glass ceiling it will not shatter with just one blow.

People like Clinton [first woman in US history to become presidential nominee of a major political party], Ellen Johnson Sirleaf [former Liberian President], Joyce Banda [former Malawi President], Mujuru, a former Zimbabwean Vice-President, and yourself are giving punches to that glass ceiling and with each punch, there is a crack. One of these days one last blow will shatter it completely.

Just be proud that you my friend have joined that league and give it your best shot. There are many other silent women who in the privacy of their huts and bedrooms are saying a prayer, hold on to those.

Finally, and I know this is hard for us women, because everything sits in our heart, you have to learn to unhear bigotry, sexism, misogyny, tribalism and all forms of negativity and avoid toxic people they drag you down.

When people spend hours on your case, it means you matter, cockroaches are comfortable with darkness any light gets them scurrying.

I wish you the best my friend and may the good Lord protect you and give you abundant grace. You go gal.

 PS: I know this letter will invite abuse, but hey, I’ve been there, done that. I even have a T-shirt for it!
Your friend Priscilla Misihairabwi


  1. Our parliament has 210 seats. In the recent, ZANU PF primaries, we were told there were 22 women winners; one province did not even have a single woman winner. Whether you wish to talk of opportunities for women, human rights, corruption, election rigging, the abuse of public institutions and funds… (the list is long), the first strategic hurdle to get over is ZANU PF (as presently led and constituted) and its stranglehold grip on power. Does this mean that activists in any area of concern should compromise their principles for the sake of unity? No. But there is always the need to balance short-term against long-term objectives.

    For better or for worse, as things stand presently, this election is going to be between Mnangagwa and Chamisa. In the short term, aligning with which one better serves your long-term objectives? That is the critical question. Finally, there is the question of pride and of being scorned; Chamisa elbowed his way past two other deputies; they have chosen to react differently – one of them (rightly or wrongly) complaining of a sexist and tribal agenda.

  2. Priscilla Misihairambwi you have every right like any living soul to believe in your own conscience, like what you like, support what you believe in, it is a free world. That is what thousands perish for in foreign lands, in this country, some are still in shallow graves and will never have proper burial, all fighting for freedom, freedom to express your thoughts. We may differ here and there but that does not make us enemies. Women must rise and fight for their space but you must also read the situation well so that when you deliver a punch as you say, certainly its a punch that makes a difference, that’s what matters most. Do not go against the wind for you will be exposed.

  3. am failing to get the meaning of this article , otherwise its nonsense

  4. Befitting advice that has no room in this patriachal society, unfortunately. Nonetheless, a wise man changes his mind often, a fool never. I’d rather cry in a BMW than laugh on a bicycle. Sometimes we suffer a lot clinging on to misplaced principles.

  5. Priscilla i know you have heard of bad timing, this is what your friend Khupe is doing.At this point in time, anyone whose manoeuvres compromise the people’s chance of freeing ourselves from the Zanu PF hegemony becomes indirectly part with the enemy. It’s unfortunate but we can’t miss this opportunity.It’s time we all put Zimbabwe first,patriotism at its best,just for now please.

  6. Priscilla, you meet Thoko regularly your advice could have been better presented at shebeen over few.

  7. HEY! ZANU PF is not an enemy of this country;they fought a very bitter war with much sacrifices before you even knew your so called rights& economy.They might b only your political opponents but not enemies;and have a right to remain if they are elected;don’t fool people of this nation;your Chamisa has already demonstrated an incapability to run this country only by his warped& foolish talk at rallies,if only for his sake u want to make everybody enemies-what more if he actually takes charge-we will only have our zimbabwean trump type

  8. Yes madam Khupe is brave. Brave to see Zimbos washed down the stream because of her miscalculations. If Zimbos are to suffer for the next 37 years, thanks to nmadam Khupe.

  9. why did khupe turn her face against top post of vice president of the country? is she cursed not to see clearly? sibanda was fooled by priscilla and he missed the chance of being deputy prime minister in 2009. a vice president has power to appoint ministers for matebeleland. a president will consult the deputy president. khupe and prisilla are you this blind. khupe you make me feel sorry for you. never never betraying the revolution for the revorution you dont have my vote. please rejoin the main party. obert gutu has has also joined the revorution and revolutionaries will not vote for him. politicians do need advisers who are history teachers.



  11. Although I am not MDC and I am male the article made good reading and has depth. I have just told my daughters to read the article

  12. priscilla wasuwa kuiswa uri kuvaviwa huya ndikuise siterek ndosaka vana vadoctor vakaramba kuti utore hupfumi hwababa wawo.khupenga kwarooo is an educated failure.handikuvhotere nekuti uri mukadzi kana murume but waratidza leadership mauri.iwe priscilla khupenga kwarooo anoti akavotherwa ngaaatipe mafigures yervite yacho.priscilla l thought u knew better the history of mdc but uri mafikizolo so chandinga kuudze wasuwa kuiswa ini l am available in fact l love to marry u

  13. I respect her. A heroine. Being destroyed by ambitious novices.
    This is what happens to heroes of the struggle. See the case of war vets
    Hers of course cannot be equated to heroes of chimurenga war vets.

  14. Good article. Misogyny is the problem here. Khupe has every right to be leader of MDC-T. Nelson Chamisa leads a breakaway faction called MDC Alliance. Why should Khupe work under underling Chamisa?

  15. ms. khupe would have ordinarily have a case given the way chamisa took control of the party post morgan… one now sees the wisdom in chamisa s move with the benefit o hindsind… ms. khupe has so far run the most negative campaign comparable only to zanu..

  16. PRISCILLA MISIHIRAMBWI is being hypocritical. She belongs to the party, MDC led by Welshman Ncube who is in the MDC Alliance that has endorsed Nelson Chamisa as the legitimate president of the MDC T as well as the presidential candidate for the MDC Coalition. Are we to understand that Priscilla is rebelling against her party? She claims to bed a parliamentarian. Yet she is completely ignorant that Chamisa was elected by the National Council under the relevant sections of the Constitution. And that Khupe violated the MDC Constitution when she convened the so-called Congress in Bulawayo.

  17. An ordinary Zimbo doesn’t need an explanation to realise a ‘mercenary’ when they see one! About the above letter, u don’t think it deserves any of my time

  18. Madame . …well written, but obviously trying to misguide your colleague to believe that what she did was right…far from it. She is being used to divide the Democratic vote, God knows by who… She obviously militated against the party, its National Committee and its leader long b4 the death of MT. She has no ground to claim any legitimacy at all, worse still she cannot unilaterally call for a Congress without the support of the National Committee or Politiburo. Her only strength currently is the support of ZPF and the compromised judiciary….period

  19. Priscillah stop being so psycophantic.zimbabwe is not for sell_outs like our sister thoko khupe.dont run against the wind ,you risk being swept away by the whilwind of this imminent change.wake up and smell the indisputable tru

  20. Priscillah stop being so psycophantic.zimbabwe is not for sell_outs like our sister thoko khupe.dont run against the wind ,you risk being swept away by the whilwind of this imminent change.wake up and smell the indisputable truth

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