Female presidential challenger enters race

HARARE - Female challenger Irene Bete, has entered a sizzling presidential race comprising 29 men.

The 66-year-old becomes the only independent woman candidate in the hot race.

She becomes the 30th candidate out to win the hearts and minds of Zimbabweans.

She is squaring off with political heavyweights like President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in an election set to become a game changer in the country’s politics.

Only two women in the history of Zimbabwe have expressed interest in running for top office before Bete.

Zimbabwe Union of Democrats founder Margaret Dongo threw her name in the ring but did not contest in the 90s election after she failed to meet the presidential age limit and the late Isabel Madangure.

Madangure formed her People’s Democratic Party (ZPDP) in the mid ’90s and contested in the 2002 presidential election. She was described by Tsvangirai as the woman who put a new meaning to opposition.

Bete, an entrepreneur and mother of six, says it is time for an overhaul in the way Zimbabwean minds operated and the way they regarded themselves.

“We have a lot of potential that need to be unleashed in Zimbabwe,” she said.

“Our children do not need to migrate to other countries to be regarded as achievers, they can make it here, but they have been misled to limit success to land.

“We need new innovations because the world is evolving and not be single-minded by only concentrating on land,” she said, stressing that technological innovations were one major way in which Zimbabweans could make their mark.

She said it was time for Zimbabweans to look ahead and not waste energy concentrating on the wrongs of the past.

“We cannot always be told we fought for the country and be fed with the paranoia that there are people always after our country, vanotora nyika vachienda nayo kupi? (where will they take the country to?)” she asked.

Bete, who said her plastic manufacturing company was the first to introduce 20-litre plastic containers in Zimbabwe, said she has the wisdom to lead the country.

“I do not have a degree, but you do not need a degree to run this country and I applaud the constitution for providing any Zimbabwean with the opportunity to run for presidency.

“Wisdom is a crucial element, I am also a farmer who acquired land on my own not because of land reform,” she said. - Bridget Mananavire

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