Women Empowerment, Zimbabwe's Independence Milestone

When Zimbabwe celebrates its 42nd Independence Anniversary on April 18, one of the achievements to look back to with pride is the significant milestones the country has recorded in its quest to empower women.

During the colonial era, blacks were restricted to menial jobs and low paying professions while very few blacks owned businesses.

In schools, opportunities were mainly opened for the minority (whites) at the expense of blacks.

Women were the worst affected by the colonial segregation system.

After independence, the Government came up with deliberate policies and affirmative programmes to empower women both economically and politically.

One sector where women have made strides is the tourism industry where there are now tour and safari companies and hotels owned and operated by women.

Some run the businesses with their partners as family businesses while others are directors.

There are many women who have also risen to positions of authority and are general managers or directors of various tourism entities in Victoria Falls.
Women Empowerment, Zimbabwe's Independence Milestone
Women Empowerment, Zimbabwe's Independence Milestone
A quick scan around the country’s tourism capital shows that there are a number of women who make it to the list of the “who-is-who” of Victoria Falls.

Dr Mati Nyazema

An in-exhaustive list would include the likes of Ms Barbara Murasiranwa, who is a director at Wild Horizons and is Matabeleland region representative for the Tourism Business Council of Zimbabwe (TBCZ), former TBCZ national president Ms Winnie Muchanyuka who is South African Airways Zimbabwe country manager, Dr Mati Nyazema; owner of the luxurious Mbano Manor Hotel, Dr Rangarirai Tatenda Gunda; widow to national hero – the late Brigadier General Paul Armstrong Gunda who operates Tatenda Safaris and Lodge, Mrs Judith Dzimbanhete; proprietor of Dzimbahwe Lodges, Ms Yvonne Jandles who is owner of Routes Through Africa and Mrs Susan Makanza of Pamusha Lodges.

Mrs Judith Dzimbanhete

The others are Mrs Elisabeth Curiger, co-founder of Zambezi Explorer-Pure Africa, Ms Patience Musonza; general manager for Cresta Sprayview, Ms Sarah Gardiner who is co-founder of Matetsi Victoria Falls, Elephants Walk operator Mrs Gail Van Jaarsveldt and Ms Elisabeth Pasalk of Gwango Lodge in Hwange.

There are some who are into environment conservation, a key component of the tourism sector and these include Ms Veronica Chapman and Ms Charlene Herwitt of Greenline Africa.

The list is endless with several women operating various tourism entities.

Two regulating authorities that govern operations of the tourism players have women at the top.

Victoria Falls City Council’s deputy mayor is Councillor Patricia Mwale, the first woman to occupy the position since independence while the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority’s Matabeleland North regional manager is Ms Tsika Mberi.

Ms Barbara Murasiranwa

Ms Murasiranwa said women can succeed if they learn to say no to minor endeavours and go for bigger initiatives.

She joined Shearwater in 1996 where she became financial director before becoming managing director.

Ms Murasiranwa is now corporate affairs and business development director at Wild Horizons and regional representative of TBCZ.

“This means that as women we have equal chances in the industry and I encourage all the other ladies not to give up. We can make a difference to the industry and the country,” she said.

Asked how she manages to balance between demanding work roles and family, Ms Murasiranwa had this to say: “Plan it well so you have time for work and family as well as fun. Use one diary for all your commitments and make use of alarms and reminders to keep you in check. Also learn to say no to minor projects.

“Prioritising is the mother of success in my life,” she said.

Mrs Dzimbanhete, who operates a 22-room property said determination is key.

“I was in the industry for a long time until we decided to start our own thing. It’s all about determination and knowing what you want in life. As long as you are determined you will never complain about segregation of whatever type. Yes, there are challenges like unequal opportunities, but we have managed to make it through determination and others have utilised opportunities coming through Government for women,” she said.

Ms Tsika Mberi

Dr Gunda, the first black woman to own a safari company in Victoria Falls, however, said women are still not empowered on land ownership.

“Independence meant freedom and should not end there. It should include access to land for women. Land should be cheaper so that women have access and if it is expensive then the colonial imbalances will remain. So it’s not easy to get land, especially for tourism and even access to financial loans from banks. No black woman can access land at US$85 000 for a 200 square metre piece,” she said.

Dr Gunda said despite all imbalances, she survived by bulldozing.

“I am a bulldozer. I was the first black woman to open a safari company and things were tough, but now we are happy because so many lodges are owned by blacks and some are women. What we need is to be united as black business persons, especially women,” she said.

Dr Gunda said women’s empowerment programmes should be extended to those in tourism, including small scale players.

AquAmanzi Borehole Drilling Is One Of Zimbabwe’s Leading Borehole Drilling Companies Specialising In Borehole Siting, Borehole Drilling and Borehole Installations.

WhatsApp: +263 77 460 7351
Address: 16911 Old SPCA Complex Unit 2,Seke Road, Graniteside.