Independent Zimbabwe’s First Female Parliamentarians & Senators

The first female Parliamentarians in Independent Zimbabwe included the wives of prominent nationalists and liberation war fighters such as Victoria Chitepo, Teurayi Ropa Nhongo now know as Joice Mujuru, Ruth Chinamano and Sunny Takawira.

Below are some of the first female Parliamentarians (both House of Assembly and Senate) in Independent Zimbabwe:

1. Naomi Nhiwatiwa

Naomi Pasiharigutwi Nhiwatiwa was war hero, charity worker and former Cabinet minister. She was a former adviser to the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s Africa Region.  At independence in 1980, she became one of only five female MPs from the Zanu PF side – and along with Joice Mujuru and Victoria Chitepo, they were the only women in Cabinet.

Nhiwatiwa was the Deputy Minister of Posts and Telecommunications. You can read more about Naomi Nhiwatiwa here.

2. Thenjiwe Lesabe

After Independence, Thenjiwe Lesabe was elected Member of Parliament for Matobo district in Matabeleland South as a member of PF-ZAPU. She later represented Umzingwane in Parliament. She was again elected chairperson of ZAWU at Zapu’s 1984 congress.

She died in 2011 and was denied hero status by the Zanu PF politburo. She was instead offered a state-assisted funeral because at the time of her death she was no longer a Zanu PF member. Read more about her here.

3. Jane Ngwenya

Jane Lungile Ngwenya was raised in Buhera, the daughter of a migrant from Lesotho and a mother of Shona background. On January 22 1977 Jane Ngwenya was injured after an explosion of a parcel bomb that killed Jason Moyo in Lusaka, Zambia.

After independence, Ngwenya served as the Deputy Minister of Labour, Manpower and Social Welfare, a key portfolio that oversaw the rehabilitation of returnees and refugees from the armed struggle.

Read more about her here.

4. Sheba Tavarwisa

Sheba Tavarwisa was a primary school teacher and fighter in Zimbabwe’s war of liberation. She was a member of ZANLA the military wing of ZANU. She left teaching to become one of the first women commanders in ZANLA.

She is among other women liberation war fighters that were denied heroine status such as Catherine Garanewako, Thenjiwe Lesabe, Tichaona Freedom, Nyamubaya and Ruth Nyamurowa. 

Read more about Sheba Tavarwisa here.

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