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Misogyny, cyberbullying and toxicity in Zim politics

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By Faith Zaba

ELECTIONS have come and gone. The contestation between the ruling Zanu PF and the main opposition Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC) is now mainly on the diplomatic front. It’s back to basics for many Zimbabweans.

There was a patently problematic phenomena that emerged from the August 23/24 poll – toxic politics and cyberbullying against women.

There is a great divide between Zanu PF and CCC.
Some scholars, such as Michael Bratton, describe the party affiliations in Zimbabwe as “hyper-partisan polarisation”.
In post-election 2023 political environment, violence against women moved to online spaces.
Social networking sites such as Facebook and X (formerly Twitter) are being used to attack female politicians.
While some researchers blame polarisation on political elites, many ordinary citizens are stuck in firm partisan loyalty. This manifested in the post-election period.

How then does Zimbabwe, with 40% of its population being internet users, heal from toxic politics where women, in particular, can flourish without being harassed, insulted and intimidated?

In recent years, Zimbabwe has seen a rising trend of cyberbullying against female political leaders. This transcends party lines, reflecting deeply entrenched issues of toxicity, patriarchal society and misogyny.

The attacks are a disturbing symptom of broader societal challenges facing women. This is worrying. This might be the reason why there are few women entering politics.
Examples of women in politics in Zimbabwe, who have endured cyberbullying include former CCC spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere, Senator Thokozani Khupe and opposition leader Linda Masarira.

The latest victims are the new ICT minister Tatenda Mavetera, one of the six women in President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s 26-member cabinet, Sunningdale MP Maureen Kademaunga, Mutare Mayor Sophia Gwasira and 25 year-old Shantiel Chiwara, a post-graduate banker, who was elected the first Masvingo female mayor.

Female political leaders have found themselves disproportionately targeted. The attacks are often laced with misogyny and an insidious undercurrent of sexualisation. They are nasty and harsh – a reflection of a society that has, for too long, struggled to accept women in positions of power and influence.

The Women’s Academy for Leadership and Political Excellence (Walpe) noted that there was a decline in the number of female candidates from 14% in 2018 to 11% this year, with 70 women contesting for parliamentary seats and only 21 winning.

It is toxic politics that discourages women from participating in elections for public office; hence there is urgent need to develop politics of tolerance.
It has been 43 years since independence – and this must show by promotion of inclusivity and equality, especially for women.
Where the law must take its course to punish online abusers, so be it, to discourage such toxic behaviour.

Political elites must lead by example; stop fuelling polarisation and engage in healthy debates.

The ascension of young women to top posts should be celebrated as a beacon of hope for posterity. It should signify progress in dismantling patriarchal norms.
So how can we change this narrative? It starts with embracing SuperSport’s “Here for Her” message, which celebrates women. It emphasises support for women in all spheres.

Faith Zaba is the Editor of The Zimbabwe Independent, an AMH Business Weekly.

In Conversation with Clive Mono Mukundu

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He calls himself ‘God’s Favourite Guitarist’. Clive ‘Mono’ Mukundu is a renowned music producer, composer, and multi-instrumentalist. Mono shares intimate parts of his life and his musical journey working with Oliver Mtukudzi and Chiwoniso Maraire. Mono’s fathers was strongly opposed to his career choice and says his father’s blessing later in his career opened doors for him. Watch his episode here..

Audience Responses

From the Mono Mukundu episode, our community had this to say:

@gsimbiemarufu-madziwa4139:
Such an honest conversation. Mr Mono is an amazing story teller! The way he remembers all the details and dates is a true reflection of how purpose driven and intentional his life is. Blessings to him and his family!
@davidmbiriri7880:
This was another great interview mkoma Trevor. I am happy Mono is getting the recognition he deserves. Talented. Humble. Speaks his mind. Honest. Genuinely happy to see others succeed. Authentic. Happy belated birthday God’s favourite guitarist. Wish you all the best in all you do.
@mrrocca8531:
The difference between authenticity and originality blew my mind. Mono is a treasure who needs to be protected at all cost
@marg86:
I’ve followed this man for years now and I just love how honest and candid he is. I always say every Zimbabwean musician needs to take a leaf out of his life. He is a true legend! I am so happy he has been featured on such a platform. Most men will say akadyiswa after sticking with your wife through her illness – I salute you Long live Mono!

Coming Next: In Conversation with Henry Bindu

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Don’t miss the next episode with Founder & CEO of Real Man Talk & Extreme Fitness Total Body Gym Henry Bindu In Conversation with Trevor.

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Podcasts

in conversation with trevorZimbabwean entrepreneur and newspaper publisher Trevor Ncube sits
down with various high-profile guests in a series of candid,
conversations that seeks to go beyond the headlines
and beyond the sensational.

Book of the Week

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Poor and Famous by Clive Mono Mukundu

Order
yours on Amazon

Recommended Reading:

The 48 Laws of Power

by Robert Greene


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