INCACERATED MDC-T activist Last Maengahama’s wife, Georgina, is bitter and disillusioned.
BY OBEY MANAYITI
Every day she wakes up to the sad reality that her husband is serving a 20-year jail term for killing a police officer, Petros Mutedza, in Harare’s Glen View suburb in 2011. Life has not been easy for Georgina, but she still hopes her husband will be released soon.
“I miss my husband. I just see him only once in two weeks,” she said in an interview at her Glen View home.
Among the biggest of her challenges is working to fill the void left by her incarcerated husband and she doesn’t want their six children to be distracted by the fact that their father is serving a long jail sentence.
Their youngest child was five weeks old when Maengahama was jailed.
“Things started to change from the day that he was jailed for 20 years.
“The children didn’t accept the sentence, they have too many questions concerning those 20 years. From their imaginations, adding 20 years to their ages now is an incredibly long time. They cannot believe it,” she said.
“All our children are still going to school except the 11 months old baby and I am facing serious challenges paying their school fees.
“I am trying to do many income generating projects such as gardening and poultry, but the burden is huge.”
The three MDC-T activists, Tungamirai Madzokere, Yvonne Musarurwa and Maengahama, are each serving 20 years in jail following the death of Mutedza.
Among Georgina’s many dependants is Maengahama himself.
The prison requires basic provisions valued at $130 monthly and she fears that if she fails to deliver, it might affect her husband who would then worry about his family’s welfare.
However, Georgina said she does not regret marrying a politician although she is frustrated that it has taken too long to bring change in Zimbabwe.
“When we got married he was already a politician. Of course, I might have regrets that what I expected from the opposition hasn’t come,” she said.
“I thought they would be in power by now but after all the years, nothing has changed. It has taken too long to get change. If you check, nothing has changed since 1980.”
She also said she was disappointed with the recent MDC-T split which left them isolated.
“The split has really caused us to feel isolated. Since his incarceration in December last year, I was only given groceries once in December by the MDC-T,” Georgina said.
“He joined (Tendai) Biti and (Elton) Mangoma during the split but now that they have split again I don’t know who he is supporting. However, before sentence last year, he was more into church.”
She said Maengahama was not a new name to President Robert Mugabe, saying the Zanu PF leader was saved by a close relative of her incarcerated husband when he was being hunted down by the Rhodesians.
“At the end God will prevail. The truth shall always come out. However, I believe he will be out at some point. I don’t believe he will be there for 20 years,” she said.
Meanwhile, Tungamirai’s sister Mavis Madzokere said they were struggling to make ends meet following his incaceration. She said Madzokere has two children.
“Things are hard. He was the bread winner and now we are facing financial challenges and life is no longer the same,” she said.
“Our biggest fear is that he seems disturbed by the sentence psychologically. Some of our relatives are avoiding us because of the matter.
“His children cannot get the luxuries they used to have. It is so distressing to us when his children ask for things that we cannot afford.
“If we fail to give them what they want they will start to say if only their father was around, things would be different.”
Mavis said it was frustrating that some officials in the MDC-T appeared to have forgotten about the activists’ families.
“The party is not helping us. We only got assistance before the conviction but now there is nothing. He always gives us a list of groceries that are requested at the prison to take to the party but we don’t get anything at all,” she said.
It is against this background that Concerned Citizens Support Network of Zimbabwe (CCSNZ) is working with the three families to fill the gap left by the incarcerated trio.
CCSNZ country director Assan Mtembo said they felt indebted to support the people affected by the rough political terrain in Zimbabwe.
“We believe in sustainability. This is not a once off thing but we want them to feel that we are one, we are family,” he said.
“Every month we will be giving them something and we wish to promote their income generating projects as well.”
Besides the monthly food vouchers, the organisation is paying school fees for the trio’s children up to university level.
Mtembo said they are working at identifying about 2 000 children affected by the political situation to pay their school fees.