Mpariwa: a veteran of the struggle

One of the top female members of MDC-T, Paurina Mpariwa (PM) was there when her party was formed in 1999, and was amongst the first MPs in 2000. The Mufakose MP shared her passion for turning around economic fortunes of her constituents with Nelson Sibanda (NS).

Paurina Mpariwa, MP for Mufakose.
Paurina Mpariwa, MP for Mufakose.

NS: When did you join politics, and why?

PM: It is wrong to say I joined politics. In fact, I translated my labour unionism into political activism when we formed MDC in 1999. I am one of its proud founders. Zanu (PF) was anti-people. It’s arrogance and its unwillingness to address problems affecting workers and the nation at large motivated me.

NS: When MDC was formed, Zimbabwe was virtually a one party state. How did you manage to rise above the fear enveloping the country then?

PM: The burning desire to prove that mass resistance and fighting Zanu (PF) at the ballot box could be done drove fear out of me. Life had become so unbearable that people of substance had to sacrifice their lives for a better Zimbabwe. I put my head on the cutting block and chose to be one of the warriors for democracy. For the record, I and my family have never been Zanu (PF).

NS: Is your activism paying dividends?

PM: For the people I represent in Parliament, I think so, though it is not exactly what I would have wanted their social, political and economic welfare to look like. There must be enough food on the table at every household. Jobs must be available for those who want to work, salaries and wages must be attractive and able to sustain families above the poverty datum line. Pensions should also be attractive

NS: You have been in Parliament since 2000. How sweet is power?

PM: There is nothing sweet about sharing power with Zanu (PF). The coalition is unbelievably painful. Though we are physically sitting in offices, spiritually we are still in the battle trenches. The struggle for democracy is not yet over. Our objectives as MDC have not been achieved yet. We want to bring genuine democracy to the country.

NS: You have expressed your soft spot for the poor in your community, what have you done to improve their welfare?

PM: I have used the Constituency Development Funds to uplift living standards. To make sure the CDF is accounted for and meets its intended purpose, we formed a committee charged with the identifying and overseeing the facility. We included stakeholders from across the political divide and different social categories. Mufakose has some 2,000 people living with disabilities. I closely monitor and take care of their economic needs through empowerment projects. I am actually complementing CDF objectives through family coffers. I went out of my way and mobilised family cash resources to empower vulnerable members of my constituency.

As a result, a peanut producing club is flourishing. Various clubs are specialising in different types of businesses such as selling of dried fish, buying and selling of old clothes, blankets selling, sewing among other lucrative activities. In January I bankrolled and launched a youth chicken breeding project. Some 50 road runner chickens were provided for the scheme. Some 100 elderly residents also benefitted from my fertiliser scheme on the same day. Old people and other vulnerable members of the community are struggling to sustain their small farming activities in the urban areas. When the crop is harvested, I expect every household to at least afford decent meals on the table.

NS: Besides empowering your constituency, how else have you been useful to the nation?

PM: At present I am busy mopping up the mess created by Zanu (PF) at the International Labour Organisation. The formation of the Government of National Unity ushered in MDC labour relations acceptable to the ILO. My office is making concerted efforts to harmonise the country’s labour laws.

I helped facilitate formation of the tripartite board which negotiates working conditions of government employees. I have managed to bring back the country into the family of nations. This resulted in me winning the vote to the Vice Chairpersonship of the International Labour Organisation governing body.

As labour minister, I have worked tirelessly and managed to harmonise relations between some suspicious stakeholders and NGOs. As you know my ascendency to the powerful post never received the deserved media publicity. May be it was because of my being a woman and non Zanu (PF). Following acceptance of Zimbabwe into the ILO fold, the country received motor bikes and computers from the labour organisation.

NS: What advice would you give to women regarding participation in politics and other sectors dominated by men?

PM: I would urge women to come out of their shells and participate. There is a lot of political and entrepreneurship among women. The talent needs harnessing. To shine like stars among their male counterparts, women must be united and supportive of each other. If we do not support each other as women, we risk having our gains amassed to date reversed.

NS: What kind of Zimbabwe do you envision?

PM: I dream of a Zimbabwe which is genuinely free, respects Human Rights, has free media space, equal opportunities for men and women, workers’ rights and decent salaries and wages, living pensions, availability of social facilities for the needy, rule of law, democracy, free and regular elections and food security among other provisions.

NS: How did you breakthrough into Mufakose constituency given that it was formerly Zanu (PF) territory.

PM: In the 2000 election I resoundingly beat Zanu (PF) candidate, Sabhina Tembani. I defeated her again in 2005. In the 2008 polls, I beat Victor Kuretu of Zanu (PF) as well. In Mufakose Zanu (PF) is an easy catch.


Born in 1964 in Mufakose. Attended various schools such as Farai Primary in Chitungwiza, St. Mary’s Secondary, Lower Gweru for Ordinary Level studies and Belvedere evening school for the Advanced levels.

Obtained several professional diplomas in personnel management, industrial relations, business studies, para-legal, social work among several others. Holds certificates in many fields such as finance and computers. About to complete a degree in social studies.

“I will continue studying until I die since acquisition of knowledge is meant to be a lifelong commitment. I am proud of my diversified education. Whichever post I am I appointed to, I will never disappoint.”

Participation in labour unionism started while working at OK chain stores early 1990s. Was branch workers’ committee chairperson and later rose to national chairperson. Represented grievances of shop floor workers from the company’s 37 branches around the country.

Elected chairperson for the Commercial Workers’ Union Zimbabwe. Was chairperson for Women’s Parliamentary Caucus, chairperson Women in Law and Development in Africa (WILDAF), Zimbabwe Parliament Treasurer Women Caucus, parliamentary deputy chairperson Portfolio for Labour, parliamentary deputy whip, Pan African Parliament rapporteur for health, labour and social welfare.

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