'I am waiting to hear from Tsvangirai'

MDC founding member Grace Kwinjeh stands among the most loyal and dedicated members of the party, which has just concluded its primary elections in which some of the bigwigs have fallen by the wayside while others were protected from facing possible defeat at the hands of structures miffed by poor performance in Parliament.

Kwinjeh was a fortnight ago declared winner of the MDC Makoni Central constituency but strangely, she has been told she was defeated — raising fears of rigging and double standards by her party.

Our Senior Assistant Editor Guthrie Munyuki sought her views on the latest storm and below are the excerpts of the interview.

Q: What is the official position regarding the MDC Makoni Central primary elections in which you were announced as winner two weeks ago but now you are said to have lost?

A: At the moment there are two conflicting positions, one claims that the election has been concluded and the other is that counting is still being done.

Q: Why are we having the change of results now yet primary elections were held two weeks ago?

A: That is what I do not

understand, it discredits the whole process, I do hope the party leadership can resolve that quickly.

Q: How are you dealing with this new development which suggests manipulation of results?

A: I have lodged a complaint with the party leadership. I am waiting to hear from them, in particular our party president, Morgan Tsvangirai as he is the highest authority. I think in the case of a dispute he has the authority to decide.

Q: Is there a reason why you are being subjected to this situation?

A: I think that being female and also being exiled, meant some people thought I had lost grassroots support. And so when hundreds of villagers from Makoni Central voted for me, they went into shock.

Inspite of the fact that the people of Makoni Central approached me to be their candidate, they knew I am based here in Belgium.

This was not a major issue for them. Zimbabweans have a long memory and have not forgotten my work within the party and sacrifice.

Manicaland is a province I was assigned to by the party a lot of times, and so strong bonds with our structures were established.

Being in exile does not weaken those bonds.

Q: Did you see it coming especially in the wake of having to be subjected to a rigorous process at a time people like Tracy Mutinhiri got a “safe landing” in the party?

A: I believed I was going through a transparent and democratic process; I had faith in the system.  I think the party by accommodating Tracy Mutinhiri set a good precedence that not only can we manage to lure those from the opposition into our ranks, but we can also promote them to influential places in leadership.

However, I also feel that tried and tested cadres also deserve the honour and respect.

Q: Are you being targeted because you are out of the country?

A: That would be an area that people would choose to exploit.

Q: Why have you remained domiciled in Belgium?

A: My family is here in Belgium, the party is aware that I am here; fully understand my circumstance that led me to be here. I have been in constant touch with the leadership, they also rang me before the primary election wanting assurance that I will be back home soon to campaign.

I explained to them the processes I was going through in order to get home as soon as possible.

They accepted my explanation which is why I proceeded with the election while still here. Had they voiced concern I would not have bothered at all.

Q: What options are available for you since you are not accepting “robbery” of your victory?

A: The only option is waiting to hear what the party president says, then I take it from there.
Q: How do you feel in light of this situation?

A: I feel let down. That the women of Zimbabwe have been let down.

Q: For the benefit of people who might not know you and your profile in the MDC, how long have you been involved in the party?

A: I am a founding member of the party, been actively involved with it since formation. I was honoured last year for coming up with the party name.

Q: What are some of the moments you have endured during your association with the MDC?

A: I have endured arrests, torture and lost my freedom while I was in the country and could not travel after I moved back in 2005.

The Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede refused me a passport. I took him to court.

The records are there at the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights. I was separated from my children for three years.

The torture I suffered in 2007 left me badly scarred, the healing process has been long, but God has been faithful.

His Grace has been sufficient for me. I am still suffering from the injuries of the torture. My lower back for instance is still not fully healed. I am in constant pain, cannot do gym or run as much as I did before.

Q: How significant has been your role in fighting for human rights and advancing your party’s cause in Europe?

A: I feel that I have had a voice and the space to stand up for those under persecution, take for instance the Cynthia Manjoro issue, Jestina Mukoko; Beatrice Mtetwa, Solomon Madzore among others.

I was able to highlight their plight and bring to the attention of those matters in the international community; what they were going through.

I believe I have represented my party well in Brussels which is the headquarters of the European Union (EU).

Have also been the face of the party; have passionately defended our cause and our quest to see a democratic Zimbabwe — ensuring that issues concerning Zimbabwe are put on the spotlight.

Q: Where do you go from here?

A: Well I am a very principled person. I will continue to stand for what is right for my country.

My mission is to make a positive contribution to the needs of Zimbabwe; important processes which include healing and reconciliation and the whole reconstruction process.

The last 13 years have been really bad. I look forward to being part of a process and future in which Zimbabwe reclaims her lost glory. I believe with men and women of integrity in leadership this is possible.

Comments (16)

surely the MCD leadership ought to respond with some decisive action and not leave open ended questions like this

moriarty - 27 June 2013

Why ask leading questions...? To show her seriousness Grace should have come home to camapaign rather than leaving this to a represenative

Toni - 28 June 2013

Angade kukambena ari mhiri kwemakungwa here? Ngaauye kuAfrica kwete kugarira kure soo. Hapana mombe inofurira yakarara saka agaRigirwa maElections iwayo, asipo haapo, mwana wehuku anodya ndearipo.

Tugu - 28 June 2013

MDC should be serious with this woman, i see avery committed and dedicated woman to the cause of real change. From the way she is presenting herself one can tell that thats leadership material.

Chapa - 28 June 2013

ZANU PF for life kwinjeh ndewezanu uyo ndewedu

prophet jeremiah - 28 June 2013

I am also in Belgium where Grace hails from but I definitely think that she can not act politically through proxies. She was supposed to be on the ground in Zimbabwe weeks before the primary. This issue is not about being a woman or anything else but the mere fact that she decides to stay in Europe but at the same time needs to sit in our parliament -- if she really wanted to campaign for the Party, she needed to be home long back. I hate this attitude that if one is a founding member then one is better than those who joined later. I would rather vote Tracy Mutinhiri than Grace coz she is there in the fight right now.

Lex Varasika - 28 June 2013

My sister you are not serious come home and also feel what we are going through. You want to be voted for when you a like a chapungu which does not want to land on the ground enjoying the cool air in the skies. No way.

jackovic - 28 June 2013

Beautiful website, Daily News. This is excellent work. Thanks for giving your readers space for comments. Keep on telling it as it is. Keep it up!

Nkosi Mambo - 28 June 2013

True Grace I remember you that day when we started to match for the new constitution when you were bundled into that landrover together with that white man I can't remember it could be Mike Auret I think. It was when we demanded to match and Brian Kagoro was there saying we should not match because the police are denying us. If she remembers I deemanded we match with or without police clearance and Brian thinking I was taking glory from him started saying 'some people who are demanding to match have been send by ZanuPf' I challenegd him to prove it only for him to join when another group came matching from Julius Nyerere into Secomnd Street. We a were at Causeway. The girl Grace was in it and she deserves to be in parliament. I gave up politics because its too dirty for me.

wamaromo - 28 June 2013

Like the other writers above..Grace should have been on the ground not in Brussels..Eric and the other radioman came to campaign on the ground..she has to live with her decision not to campaign on the ground..if for some odd reason she felt her candidature should have been automatic then she must now live with the consequences. Mutinhiri has been campaigning from the time she crossed over to the MDC and this is the reason she won the seat. Do the honorable thing Grace and let the party move on to win the election. You could still get in through the seats reserved for women..Accept the result and move on!

gutter poet - 28 June 2013

Grace, I think you can tell from the comments that people appreciate your unquestionable contribution to the cause. Would you not be better off representing our new Zim from Brussels where your young family is settled, and then come back home when more convenient? Vanhu Havachada zanupf!!

Stop-a-Thief - 29 June 2013

sisy come home mwana wehuku anodya ndearipo come and stand for your self tikuonei lets move forward and see zimbabweans have a better life tatambura lets change to mdc

huyai kumusha - 1 July 2013

my beloved sister, very soon we will donate you to zanu pf if you keep on waffling like that. off course we value your contribution to the party but truely there are certain things which we strongly antagonise with you. How can you just send a representative and just leave like that. True cadres dont stay in belgium like you are doing and for your own information vawakarohwa navo vana chamisa never ran away. if you are clever just keep your mouth shut or else you will render yourself errelevant.

isaac nabasi - 1 July 2013

Good Interview Guthrie. But is it not possible to have a picture attached on the story?

James - 1 July 2013

What we have here is a symptom of one of the really unfortunate problems we have as Zimbabweans. The idea that living in the west somehow makes you special. Diasporans seem to think that they are due something special. I am a diasporan, who is actually now moving back home, so that I can use my ideas and learning to help communities back home (whether elections are a sham or not). Grace, you have to be on the ground to qualify. In Belgium, or anywhere else in the EU, for that matter, you would not be considered for any position whatsoever if you were expecting to enter political office, whilst sitting with your feet up thousands of miles away in comfort. Zimbabweans do not eat your founding status. They eat when their representatives are there, on the ground, working with them. MaZimbo tine some very big ego problems. If you don't go home, you don't even deserve an answer from Tsvangirai.

arne - 2 July 2013

thats bull shit kana mati mava veku Belgium itai zveikoko. How do u work for the pple muri ku Belgium nhai Tete. Matakadya kare haanyaradzi mwana. zvekuti muri founding member zvakapera kaaare kaaaaaaaaaare

tawanda - 3 July 2013

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