MDC-T youth activist and feminist Maureen Kademaunga has fired a broadside at former party Vice President Thokozani Khupe over claims she was blocked from being the main opposition’s leader for being a woman.
The MDC-T was plunged into a bitter leadership feud following the death February this year of substantive party leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
Although the party had three VPs at the time, the duel has been more intense between Khupe and Nelson Chamisa, who has since been confirmed substantive party leader by MDC-T organs.
The move has incensed Khupe who has broken ranks with her colleagues claiming victimisation for being both a woman and a Ndebele.
Asked why MDC-T women have failed to defend one of their own, Kademaunga – a former secretary for international relations in the youth assembly – launched a tirade at the ex-Deputy Prime Minister, describing her as aloof and an extension of male dominance in and outside the party.
“Patriarchy is a perpetuation a system of dominance,” Kademaunga told a SAPES Trust policy dialogue forum called to discuss youth involvement in national leadership affairs.
“The system allows people who think they are stronger than others to dominate the weak. When a woman has an education, extra disposable income; when a woman is in a position of authority, it means that they are no longer vulnerable.
“So, for us (young women) to craft our struggles around just the interest of that one woman who is already in a position of privilege is a travesty of justice. We are betraying the rest of the women.”
Now coordinator with #SheVotes2018, a movement pushing for young women’s participation in elections, Kademaunga has been activist in MDC-T leadership affairs and was in 2013 designated as party proportional representation candidate for Mashonaland East.
As a prominent female member of the main opposition, she continued, she will never lose sleep over Khupe’s misfortune, let alone rally her colleagues to fight in Khupe’s corner.
The activist said Khupe had long lost any connection with vulnerable party women who wake up every day to face the daily struggles of fending for their children in a country that has its own perennial challenges.
As one time most powerful woman in the party and to a great extent in government, Kademaunga said Khupe failed to represent the aspirations of the less privileged.
“If we put you (Khupe) forward but you are not understanding what democracy is about, and we think that you must step down and we put another woman, that is not discrimination against another woman. It is the wishes and aspirations of the majority and must be respected.
She continued: “What we have seen in the women’s movement is that the women who benefited from the Beijing outcomes came back to monopolise the space and appointed themselves as patriarchal gatekeepers and said, ‘until we say yes, you will not pass a certain post’. And it’s been very difficult for young women.
“What we find is that the space is dominated by a narrative that is driven by women of privilege who believe that gender upliftment is about them and nothing about the ordinary woman. We are putting a stop to that.”
The outspoken MDC-T youth activist said Khupe was as good as former First Lady Grace Mugabe who alienated her fellow female colleagues through her public rants against rivals.
“If being a woman is the only criterion of value for someone to be in leadership, why did the women’s movement not stand with Grace Mugabe when she was coming to those rallies and attacking people! It’s because she was going against everything that we believe in.”
Khupe has since been expelled from the party and further recalled from parliament.