By Byron Mutingwende
FreeZim Congress is a political party with its root deeply seated in the traditional cultural values, Philippa Jaya has said. The remarks come following kneeling by the party women upon the arrival of their leader Joseph Makamba Busha at a rally held at Freedom Square in Harare on 3 March 2018.
The practice of kneeling before their leader went viral on social media platforms after videos and pictures of Busha’s arrival were splashed on Twitter and Facebook.
“Women rights group where are you, see what women in Freezim Congress do in welcoming their leader Joseph Makamba Busha?” screamed one Facebook post by a journalist based in Harare.
Honourable Jessie Majome, Member of the House of Assembly for Harare West responded to the Facebook post: “The daughters in law of the Zezurus and the Korekores of Mashonaland Central also conduct this ritual of adopting this servile posture at family gatherings for a ‘tip’ – ‘kushonongorwa’. It certainly has no place in democratic party politics! We should instead have women leading, not kneeling in that party.”
Jaya later appeared to rubbish the criticism of the practice. She said kneeling is a popular Zezuru custom by the people from places like Murehwa, Zvimba and Wedza.
“When a respectable person arrives, women bow down as a sign of respect. In FreeZim Congress, we believe in the equality for all men and women. Those women were not commanded by Mr Busha to kneel but did so out of their own will and according to our traditions and customs. Instead of concentrating on trivial issues, the electorate should judge us based on the development projects we are bringing to the communities and on our sound manifesto which is arguably the best to steer Zimbabwe out of its economic quagmire,” Jaya said.
The view was shared by some of the women who knelt before their leader. These include Happiness Dhewa, Jessica Svodziwa and Teclar Ncube who hold senior leadership positions in FreeeZim Congress structures.