INTERVIEW Veneranda Langa
Newly-appointed MDC deputy secretary-general Concillia Chinanzvavana (CC) says political persecution and arrests that she experienced when she joined opposition politics will not deter her from participation in the emancipation of Zimbabweans who she said were a violated and hungry people.
Chinanzvavana spoke to NewsDay (ND)’s Senior Parliamentary Reporter Veneranda Langa about her appointment and other issues. Below are the excerpts:
ND: You are now occupying a top post in the MDC, an achievement for a woman, what does it mean to the party and women in general?
CC: I am honoured to be accorded the chance to be the deputy secretary-general of the main opposition party. Though I am not the first, it is a recognition of the women’s worth that I don’t take the accord lightly, but consider it a show of great confidence and trust in women’s capacities by the president (Nelson Chamisa) and the party at large.
ND: What new things are you going to bring to the party in your new post?
CC: Our recent congress ran on the theme Defining a New Course for Zimbabwe, so as a people-centred organisation and as the new deputy secretary-general, I will strive to make a change for the better, prioritising competency in the execution of duty at every level of the party, based on quality performance management of all human resources as well as optimum utilisation of all other resources be it financial or otherwise for measurable outcomes that can be evaluated timeously.
ND: You were once arrested because of your political activities, are you not afraid that with you now occupying a powerful position you may suffer political persecution as you have to lead from the front?
CC: Yes, at the inception of the MDC, I was abducted, arrested, tortured and beaten and it was a traumatic experience which affected my whole family. However, the incarceration and abuse I suffered before for the sake of the struggle of human emancipation in Zimbabwe only served to toughen my resolve that total independence will be realised for the masses of Zimbabwe in our lifetime, as a legacy for the coming generation. From the front, we will lead the party in this tough time of the struggle against this human-induced torture of a nation, until respite is realised.
ND: Politics is known for violence. What is your strategy for dealing with violence?
CC: Against a draconian regime, violence is inevitable for it is forced upon us. Violence cannot only be defined as physical violence. People have no food and not having food is violence, but nevertheless, we have to ride the tide, the street will speak to make sure food is provided on the table for the poor Zimbabwean.
ND: What are the key issues affecting the country that you think the MDC leadership should speak to?
CC: As a leadership of the people, we will not remain quiet when human rights are being violated. We will speak to the rule of law. We will demand that people have food on the table. We are demanding an end to corruption, a cancer that has eaten into the fabric of our dignity and survival. We will not be quiet about lack of health care. Our hospitals have become death traps and we demand an end to such genocide. The education system has deteriorated, but it is every child’s right to be in school. We will continue to fight for free primary education for every child and the right to decent work for every adult.
ND: Who is Chinanzvavana? How did you grow politically to end up climbing the ladders within the MDC?
CC: Concillia is an MDC MP for Mashonaland West who rose through the party structures from the ward level at the party’s inception to the district structures in 2002. I became Mashonaland West provincial women’s assembly chairperson in 2006 up to the national, executive main wing from 2011 to date, holding the portfolios of national healing peace and reconciliation, social welfare, training and cadreship development, up until I got this appointment to the office of the deputy secretary-general last month.
In Parliament I am a Proportional Representation (PR) MP. I was also a PR MP during the previous Eighth Parliament. I am an educationist.
Born in Chinhoyi, I attended my primary to high school in Chinhoyi and attained a Diploma in Education at Belvedere Teachers’ College, later on studied for Bachelor of Commerce in Human Resources, Labour and Industrial Relations with the Zimbabwe Open University. I am a teacher by profession, with a passion for the enlightenment of the girl child and education for all.
ND: Why politics?
CC: I was pushed by the urge to be a voice of the voiceless, especially the marginalised – the girl child and women. Growing up in the teaching profession, I felt their voice as professionals is highly stifled; the so-called “noble profession” who are not allowed to air their voice as a public service.
Teachers, even though they have their unions, are not allowed job action by our laws, notwithstanding that their standing in communities of noble professionals has been highly eroded, to the point of being pitiful because the conditions of service for our public service professionals are appalling. I strive to keep on being a voice that helps address such anomalies so that our professionals can stand and walk tall again upon proper recognition of the great work they do to make this nation respectable.
ND: What challenges are you facing as a female MP?
CC: As a female MP, like others, we suffer the hindrance of lack of resources to deliver our mandate. The nation’s economic quagmire affects more the legislator, who has a duty to represent the people of the nation in the realisation of their livelihoods and enjoyment of their basic rights. The right to food on the table, health, decent work, shelter and all the necessities that makes an individual’s life decent and preserve dignity.
Women MPs are condescended upon due to our patriarchal nature that have a negative bias towards female leadership. Our male counterparts and even some of our constituents have the tendency to look down upon the female MP’s capacities, albeit the fact that some women can execute better, if not double, the capacity of some of their male counterparts given the necessary resources.