Trailblazing Women in Zimbabwean Politics: From Lozikeyi Dhlodlo to Today’s Leaders

Documentary Chronicles Zimbabwean Women's Political Journey, Inspiring Future Leaders

by Adenike Adeodun

A recent screening in Bulawayo of Joyce Jenje-Makwenda’s documentary, “History of Women Politicians of Zimbabwe,” shed light on the pivotal role of historical and contemporary women in shaping Zimbabwe’s political landscape. The event, hosted at a local club, emphasized the importance of understanding the journey from the days of Lozikeyi Dhlodlo to current figures like Sandra Ndebele Sibindi for women aspiring to high political office.

In a candid interview with NewsDay Life & Style, Jenje-Makwenda, who directed and produced the documentary, shared her motivation. “Since 1984, I’ve been documenting women’s history. This project aims to empower them for the 2028 elections,” she said. Her vision started with exploring why women engage in politics and how they can reshape Zimbabwe’s political environment.

The documentary traverses the political involvement of women from the 1890s, spotlighting influential figures like Lozikeyi, who led the amabutho after her husband Lobengula’s disappearance, and Mbuya Nehanda, Betty Mutero, and Eileen Haddon, among others. It chronicles their significant contributions, including Lozikeyi arming the amabutho from her husband’s arsenal during the 1896 Ndebele uprising.

The film also delves into the lives of women like Johanna Mafuyana Nkomo and Victoria Chitepo, who were thrust into the political sphere through their husbands’ involvement in the 1960s and 1970s liberation struggles, emerging as formidable politicians themselves.

Aiming to demystify the knowledge and practices around women’s political participation, the documentary serves as a guide for passing the baton to future generations. It highlights how past contributions have paved the way for contemporary female politicians like Fadzayi Mahere and Ndebele-Sibindi.

The screening, attended by 15 women, proved insightful, arming them with strategies for improved political representation in the upcoming 2028 elections. Political activist Priscilla Tshabalala expressed her renewed inspiration, committing to fight for justice and fair representation in politics, albeit outside of party lines.

Local councillors Sikhululekile Moyo and Nokuthula Sibanda shared their challenging yet transformative political journeys, adding depth to the discussion and reinforcing the documentary’s impact on current and aspiring female politicians in Zimbabwe.

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