Reaction to abuser-turned-victim, Chiwenga

Feminist groups have stood out in defence of Jocelyn Chiwenga, the controversial wife to feared army commander General Constantine Chiwenga, who claims persistent abuse at the hands of her powerful husband.

Jocelyn Chiwenga
Jocelyn Chiwenga

However, ordinary Zimbabweans feel that allegations of domestic physical and emotional abuse she suffered will be good respite to some of her victims she abused without any recourse to the law.

A visibly spent Jocelyn Chiwenga was splashed on the cover of this week’s Standard Newspaper, pouring out on her domestic problems. Reactions to her dramatic change of fortunes from Zimbabweans and women’s organisations differed.

Women of Zimbabwe Arise programmes co-ordinator, Magodonga Mahlangu, said in spite of Jocelyn’s record as a Zanu (PF) fanatic who went to ridiculous lengths to demonstrate her allegiance, there was no reason to gloat over her misfortunes.

“To us, she is still a woman and there are no justifiable cases of abuse of women,” she said. “However, it would be very unfortunate if it turns out she was also abusing other people as a way of venting her frustrations over her experiences at home. Moreso, the abuse of a woman of Jocelyn Chiwenga’s status by a husband of such status shows that domestic violence knows no social class and it is disheartening for us to hear that our concerted efforts to end domestic violence are falling on deaf ears.”

Women’s Coalition national co-ordinator, Netsai Mushonga, commended Jocelyn Chiwenga for speaking publicly about her frustrations at a time some women would prefer to suffer in silence to preserve their dignity.

“Yes, she may have wronged others in one sphere, but what we do not want to ignore is that she has also been wronged in another sphere. She may have erred, but two wrongs do not make a right,” she said.

A woman with the Federation of African Media Women Zimbabwe, who spoke on condition of anonymity, blamed the army chief for abusing his authority as the most powerful soldier in the land to prey on “a helpless” woman.

“I want to take a stand as a woman. There are no justifiable circumstances of abuse on women. Her husband should not use his power to abuse a helpless woman,” she said. Reactions differed elsewhere.

“It serves her right,” said one Isabel Samuriwo, a Harare resident, “It is a shame that the same larger than life character who thought she and her husband owned the world now wants sympathy from the same people she abused.”

David Kilasi, another Harare resident, said it would have been very easy to feel pity for Jocelyn Chiwenga if she was a different woman who had no past transgressions against fellow citizens.

Chiwenga’s shenanigans date back to 2001 when she accosted and beat up then-Daily News lawyer, Gugulethu Moyo, at a Harare police station. In April 2002, she pounced on a farm outside Harare accompanied by a Zanu (PF) gang and ordered the farm’s white owner to turn over his property to her or be killed.

In August 2007, she hurled insults at Morgan Tsvangirai at a busy supermarket in Harare’s Hillside suburb. She also slapped photo journalist, Tsvangirai Mukwazhi, who was covering the tour.

Jocelyn Chiwenga is among over a hundred of President Robert Mugabe's loyalists who were slapped with EU travel sanctions for rights abuses and suppressing democracy in the country.

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  1. Constantly constipated Constantine

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