Fadzayi Mahere, a young and articulate advocate made her name on social media as she took on politicians, demanding answers on issues affecting ordinary Zimbabweans.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
The debates raised by her FacebookLive broadcasts where she features prominent people divided opinion.
Some platforms labelled her as having been planted by Zanu PF because her father was a senior civil servant, while others saw value in her work in a country where information is tightly controlled.
It was no surprise that when Mahere took to Twitter and Facebook to announce her decision to contest the Mt Pleasant parliamentary seat last week, Zimbabweans could not agree if it was a good or bad omen.
MDC-T politicians were scathing in their reactions, accusing her of being a Zanu PF decoy to split the vote in next year’s keenly awaited elections.
A lengthy interview in the Herald, a privilege that is never extended to those that threaten Zanu PF hegemony only added fuel to a raging fire.
Mahere acknowledged in an interview with The Standard that the Zanu PF tag was haunting her political career before it even takes off but she believes she is not being treated fairly.
“I am not Zanu PF, and just because my father believes in something does not mean that I also believe in it,” she said.
“If my father likes certain things, it does not mean that I like them. If he eats certain food, it does not mean that I like to eat that food too.
“I have my own political conscience and it is different from that of my father.
“My beliefs are independent, and if I really wanted to be Zanu PF, I would be Zanu PF, but because I am capable of making my own decisions, I am independent.
“I actually find such comments regrettably patriarchal. The bottom line is I believe in what I believe.”
Mahere blamed Zanu PF for the economic and social decay in the country, saying it was particularly for those reasons that she decided to have a shot on a parliamentary seat.
“Actually, Zanu PF is the party that has brought this country to its knees,” she said.
The advocate of the High Court and Supreme Court said she decided to stand as an independent candidate because of the squabbles and factionalism rocking mainstream political parties in Zimbabwe.
Mahere criticised the current crop of legislators, saying they had failed the nation judging by the quality of motions raised in Parliament which do not deal with issues affecting ordinary people.
“I am young and would like my generation and the future generations to see change,” she said.
“We do not want to wait our lifetime without seeing change. We have a weak Parliament, and some of the issues they discuss do not translate into much and do not represent our concerns, and at times they fall on deaf ears.”
She does not share the notion that standing as an independent candidate would divide votes to Zanu PF’s favour.
“It is not for me to energise the opposition, and so I do not believe there is subtraction of votes,” Mahere added.
“More importantly, democracy is about choices and let the best man win. If the opposition field a good candidate, they will win.
“They are involved in political squabbling, but we want to solve issues affecting the people like long bank queues, unemployment, and many others. We want those issues on top of the political agenda but it is not happening.”
Political violence that has become a common feature during Zimbabwean elections would not deter her either despite being a female potential candidate, she said.
“We want peaceful elections where the electoral playing field is even and voters cast their votes peacefully,” she said.
“I use modern methods of campaigning where I have formed a website Fadzai4MP.com and people have come forward to donate to my campaign. In 2017 we must not underestimate the power of social media.”
Young, educated and very vocal, Mahere claimed most of her supporters were young, and that her students at the University of Zimbabwe were supporting her campaign.
In June 2016, Mahere together with #ThisFlag pastor Evan Mawarire and Vince Musewe approached Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe concerning the introduction of bond notes, saying they must not be forced on Zimbabweans.
She also caused a stir on social media when advised women against focusing marriage, saying they should instead pay more attention on the self-development.
“There is nothing wrong with marriage, but I was saying that women must focus on empowering themselves first,” Mahere insisted.
Despite the criticism on social media, Mahere said she was serious about seizing the Mt Pleasant seat from Zanu PF’s Jaison Passade come next year’s elections.