Political tolerance my aim: Hopley Farm councillor

Rai Gwenambira, the recently elected Zanu (PF) councillor for Hopley Farm’ s Ward 1, in Harare South, said she would prioritise political tolerance, reconciliation and development for her constituency.

Zanu (PF) councillor Rai Gwenambira chatting to Mt Pleasant MP, Jason Passadi.
Zanu (PF) councillor Rai Gwenambira chatting to Mt Pleasant MP, Jason Passadi.

Gwenambira believes that because Harare South has in the past been linked to violence against members of the MDC- T, her task as the councillor given the mandate to lead the people is to ensure that she delivers on their aspirations for a good standard of life and development.

She spoke to Sofia Mapuranga about her plans to promote peace, tolerance and co-existence among members of Zanu (PF) and opposition parties.

“Real leaders are committed to delivering on their promises”

QN: What motivated you to become active in politics?

RG: At the age of 14 I went to war and was trained at Tembwe in Mozambique. I stayed at several bases – Mabvudzi, new Maroro, and Tete Batario, all in Mozambique. I decided to become active in politics after interacting with the guerrillas. As a young girl, I had witnessed the gross injustices done to the black community in Rhodesia. I decided to join the liberation struggle and since then, politics has been a top priority for me.

QN: What key positions have you held within the party and at local government level?

RG: I have never held any local government position but at party level, I was the Security Officer for Manyame district from 1997-2000. I was then elevated to district Chairwoman from 2000 to 2011. I lost the post in 2011 and assumed the vice chairperson post, which I hold to date.

QN: What do you think are some of the key reasons why you lost that post?

RG: Change is inevitable. It could be that the people wanted to change the leadership because I had been in the same position for too long. It could be that the woman who assumed the chairperson role convinced the electorate that she could deliver better than me.

QN: From your experience at the helm of the women’s wing at party level, what would you consider to be the most important character traits of a good leader?

RG: Good leaders are responsive to the aspirations of the people. Leaders promote peace and encourage integration and unity. They are not self-centred and they put the needs of the electorate first. Real leaders are committed to delivering on their promises to the electorate and they lead by example.

QN: What are your plans for Harare South?

RG: Contrary to expectations that we are going to chase MDC- T supporters from Hopley Farm, we are extending our hand to them. Plans are underway to seek more land to resettle all those whose houses are encroaching into the graveyard.

I am working towards setting up more co-operatives in the area and these are going to be open to everyone regardless of political affiliation. This way, I will ensure that people bring developmental ideas under one roof and it will not be difficult to implement them considering the involvement of everyone.

Service delivery is important and the establishment of road networks, sanitation services and health centres for the community are some of my top priority areas. I am going to ensure that I raise these issues at council and advocate that they be given the urgency that they deserve. More boreholes should be drilled to ensure that people are protected from diarrhoea and related diseases.

Currently, we have a lot of cases where women are delivering their children at home because the nearest health centre catering for pregnant mothers is Edith Opperman in Mbare. I am going to move with speed to advocate for the construction of a maternity clinic for this constituency.

QN: Hopley farm is known as a Zanu (PF) stronghold, what other ways are you going to use to integrate the opposition into the developmental agenda for your constituency?

RG: The leadership of the party is the first port of call. I believe that if we can engage the leaders of the opposition in the constituency, then it is not going to be very difficult to get the buy-in of their supporters.

I think it is the right of everyone to support a party of their choice. Of course we have had problems before, but I am optimistic that the previous election demonstrated that it is possible to campaign and go through the electoral process peacefully.

“I am working towards setting up more co-operatives”

If leaders preach peace and hold their supporters accountable if they violate the law, then it is not difficult to integrate members of the opposition into supporting the developmental agenda even if those at the helm of power belong to rival parties. Promoting the unity of purpose peacefully is important and I believe Zimbabweans are now politically mature to work for the development of the nation beyond political lines. As councillor, I am going to promote co- existence and political tolerance.


Born in 1953 in Nyadire, Mutoko. Rai Gwenambira is a mother of four and went to school up to grade seven.

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