I attended Minister Priscilla Misihairabwi Mushonga’s press conference yesterday the 17th of May 2010 at Meikles Hotel where she announced that she was relinquishing all her claims to her late husband Christopher Mushonga’s estate. As she went through her statement outlining the challenges she had endured since the death of her husband in August last year, I could see a tormented face, a face filled with bitterness, anger and frustration. Tears filled my eyes as in front of me stood a defeated woman who was using the little strength left in her to announce her defeat. The most confusing part was the involvement of the CIOs and the police in an issue that was already in the civil courts. Priscilla’s relatives were being harassed and intimidated and all this was meant to break her spirit not only to fight for her husband’s estate but also her political spirit.
The painful part is that I have known Priscilla Misihairabwi as a fighter and a woman liberator and for her to end up throwing in the towel on an issue I believed she had every right to contest, I got scared, scared for myself and all the other women that are in marriages and those that are widows.
After the press conference people stood in groups discussing Minister Mushonga’s announcement. People held mixed views on this because some felt Priscilla had disappointed and broke the spirits of all the people who believe in women’s liberation and some felt that she was only human and could only take so much. To me what Priscilla did might be a disappointment to many but her action and decision is a sign and a depiction of the reality in Zimbabwe. Our society is still very patriarchal and continues to pull down and destroy women who attempt to liberate themselves. All those women who attempt to fight for their survival are labelled as prostitutes, witches and gold diggers. Clearly, Zimbabweans have not fully addressed the issue of supporting women and the civic society groups have not clearly supported Priscillah yet they claim to support disadvantaged women and to me she is one woman who has been disappointed.
Priscilla’s defeat is defeat for all of us. I therefore urge women to rise up in support of her so that she at least gets a decent home to live in.