Disempowering Women in Postcolonial Zimbabwe

Maurice Taonezvi Vambe, BA 1990 BA 1991 MA D.Phil 1995-, Department of English, University of Zimbabwe

Although more than fifty percent of the votes which pushed Robert Mugabe's nationalist Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) party into office in 1980 came from women, this was however, not reflected in their actual representation by women in parliament. The few women in parliament were political appointees meant to window-dress the male-dominated august house. The nationalist government's commitment to equality and justice for all irrespective of sex, was put to test in 1984 when the regimes" security forces swooped down on the women travelling alone at night, arresting and detaining them for imagined offences of prostitution deemed to bring disrepute to the country. This incident reveals that despite waging a war in which women participated as equals, Zimbabwean law makers and enforcers still operate from the assumption that women are dirty, loose and dangerous. The patriarchal conception of women as mothers whose age-old role is to reproduce the community was further confirmed by the conspicuous absence of the voice of women at the centre of the male politicians who negotiated for the 1987 UNITY ACCORD between ZANU and ZAPU. Coming in 1988, the publication of Nervous Conditions can be seen as a crucial political intervention aimed at revising the marginal roles which women have been assigned under colonialism and continue to perform in the new dispensation of independence.

Gender and Class Issues in the Postcolonial Zimbabwean Novel

  • Postcolonial Politics and Shifting Identities in Africa
  • Disempowering Women in Postcolonial Zimbabwe
  • Subverting Traditional Images of Womanhood
  • Authorising Women, Women Authoring
  • Constrasting Views in Narrating the Nation in Victory (1992)
  • Class Struggle and the Vision of Social Reconstruction
  • Summary and Conclusions
    Postcolonial Web Africa OV Zimbabwe OV Gender Matters