Speaking at the memorial service of her late husband, Retired General Solomon Mujuru, at Ruzambu Farm in Beatrice recently, Mujuru urged women to be subservient to their husbands and be good to them, no matter how late they come home.
She said she used to prepare the late general water for bathing and gave him food anytime he came home and warned women against fighting with their husbands’ girlfriends.
The VP said for 10 years, the late general set-up State security agents to spy on her movements, thinking that she was cheating on him.
She however said, Mujuru drank a lot of beer and sometimes did not sleep at home.
But women rights activists said Mujuru’s message was out of touch with modernity and the campaign for women’s rights.
“I think that (the message) takes the women’s movement 500 years backwards,” said journalist Grace Mutandwa.
“It is her prerogative to give such advice and it is up to women to take it or leave it, but I believe marriage should be a partnership and not a master and servant arrangement.”
Padare/Enkundleni/Men’s Forum on Gender programme officer, Nakai Nengomasha, said the way people viewed marriage was in line with how they were socialised.
He said he would encourage pro-empowerment messages, especially considering that women have been living under abuse for too long.
“It will be unfair for us to urge such things because we would have unleashed the men and allowed them to be irresponsible,” Nengomasha said.
“Leadership comes with responsibility and we have always said men are leaders, so we also expect them to be responsible and accountable.”
He added: “At Padare, we say men of quality are not afraid of equality and real men do not abuse women and children. They are always available to their families, they are loving and caring, they are responsible, they are willing listeners to women’s issues and rectify women’s plight, they are willing to be transformed from patriarchal tendencies and they are agents of gender justice.”
Mujuru prisoner of political experiences: Makoni
Girl Child Network founder and chief executive, Betty Makoni, said the younger generation viewed the issue of women’s right differently from older people like Mujuru.
She said women rights activists must not attack her, but engage her as she was a prisoner of her background and political experiences. Mujuru joined the war of liberation, which was dominated by men, as a young girl.
“To be frank, I sympathise with the VP. Many times we overlook that anyone can be a victim,” she said.
Makoni said Mujuru’s statement was in tandem with the norms which rights groups were discouraging young boys from embracing. She added that the statement reversed everything that had been done to empower women and girls in the country.
MDC-T MP supports VP
MDC-T legislator, Thabitha Khumalo, said she supported Mujuru, that women should not fight their husbands’ girlfriends, saying this could reduce the spread of infections.
She urged wives to establish a good rapport with their husbands’ “small houses”, as that way, they would always know the whereabouts of their husbands. She said fighting them would push them to other women, exposing the wife to infections and re-infections.
“That is brilliant advice. Under normal circumstances, he is expected to be yours alone, but I am sorry to say in reality, these men engage with other women and thus you have zero chances of having him all to yourself,” said Khumalo.
“Befriend the small house, understand the woman your man is with and safeguard your health and his.”