The first lady of Zimbabwe, Auxillia Mnangagwa is the brains behind traditional meal cookout competition aimed to promote the uptake of indigenous dishes and ensure citizens benefit from their nutritional values and medicinal properties.
“Amai (mother) Traditional Cookout competition” as the cooking competition is known, was launched on Thursday 18 February 2021 at Chinhoyi University of Technology.
March 2021, barely a month after the launch of the cookout competition, Joyce Mujuru, former Vice President of Zimbabwe announced her resignation from politics following a meeting with Auxillia Mnangagwa at Zimbabwe House in Harare.
Joice Mujuru’s nom-de-guerre is Teurai Ropa Nhongo, a Zimbabwean revolutionary and former politician who served as Vice President of the country from 2004 to 2014.
The office of the vice president is the highest political office ever attained by women politicians in Zimbabwe and Joice Mujuru is the only women yet to achieve such height.
Mujuru’s heroine exploits are chronicled on how in 1974 she downed a military helicopter after having been in Zambia in 1973 to receive military training
On attaining independence, Mujuru is one of the youngest person to become a government Minister under the leadership of the late President Robert Mugabe.
She rose through the ranks to become vice president, the second highest powerful political position in the present day Zimbabwe.
However, Mujuru became so ambitious, and it is alleged that she became a factional leader in ZANU PF party with the aim of toppling Mugabe who was clinging to power.
The other faction is allegedly to have been led by the current President of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Mujuru was accused of a number of crimes such as corruption, assination allegations and several others as revealed by The Sunday Mail on 16 November 2014.
Fast forward, Mujuru became an ordinary card carrying member in 2014 after ZANU PF’s congress and was later sacked from the party in 2016.
Political persecution did not force out Mujuru from politics as on 1 March 2016, Joice Mujuru announced the formation of Zimbabwe People First (ZPF), an opposition political party during a press conference in Harare.
Mujuru at one time was nicknamed as the leader of ‘Gamatox’ faction with the intention of poisoning ZANU PF party.
Allegations were also that she was also using ‘juju’ or black magic in an effort to eliminate Mugabe.
No amount of pressure, intimidation or criminal charges could break Mujuru’s resolve of being a politician.
Auxillia Mnangagwa’s meeting with Mujuru after the launch of “Amai’s traditional cookout competition” saw the iron lady of politics giving up to politics and finding joy in farming and raising the family.
Joice Mujuru’s political ghost still haunts Mashonaland Central Province, where Mujuru hail from if Zimbabwe Election Commission report on the number of female candidates is anything to go by.
Only 1 woman is contesting for Member of Parliament in the 18 constituencies available in the province.
The fall from grace to grass of Mujuru is a living testimony of how the political terrain is not a stroll in the park in the province especially for females who might wish to contest in elections.
The cooking competitions were done in the 10 provinces of the nation.
The wives of traditional chiefs who are custodian of traditional values as well as opinion leaders, set to recast and remold feminine gender roles in the traditional landscape premised on household chores.
Feminine cooking roles were championed during the cooking competition spree, gender equality was forgotten for once as evidenced by dominance of female participants.
As the first lady was busy with women doing dishes, the men were flexing their political muscles and consolidating political power.
Only 70 females are contsting for the 210 constituencies which is 3,4 percent drop from the number of women who contested during the 2018 harmonised elections.
Despite the fact that the first lady had the capacity to organise women from grassroots level for political office through her cooking competition, she moulded a traditional “Amai” away from politics.
There are other factors equally important that led to reduced number of women participating in the national assembly.
Nomination fee of $1000 USD for national assembly candidature is so huge an amount for an economy with 95 percent of its population unemployed.
72 percent of Zimbabweans are living below the poverty datum line and more than 50 percent of them dwells in the rural areas.
Women being more than 50 percent of the total population, they are the ones that are mostly affected by poverty.
This brought the analogy that women are the face of poverty.
Failure to raise the required amount of money for nomination fee caused by poverty is the reason of few number of women participants for national assembly candidature.
Politics is symbolic of violence in the local landscape.
For a women to be invovled in politics, it require courage, stamina and thick skin to be prepared for the violence which is associated with politics.
It is alleged that former deputy information minister and ZANU PF aspiring MP Energy Mutodi, recently fired gunshots at Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) members who had gathered at Baradzanwa township in Bikita awaiting leader Nelson Chamisa’s arrival.
This is the kind of violence that force out women from contesting and aspiring for political office among other militating factors.