Minister falls from grace, sworn in as rural councillor

DEMOTED: Mary Mliswa-Chikoka


Mary Mliswa-Chikoka, the former Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister of Mashonaland West, has found a new career path as a women quota councillor at Hurungwe Rural District Council. 

The once-powerful government official and Zanu PF provincial chairman was ousted from her Hurungwe West constituency by a nobody named Chinjai Kambuzuma in the 2023 Zimbabwe elections1.

But Mary is not one to give up easily. She decided to take advantage of the women quota system, which reserves 30% of the seats for female candidates, and secured a spot on the council.

 She even has ambitions to become the chairperson of the district, which is rich in wildlife and tourism2.

Some might say that this is a huge downgrade for Mary, who used to be in charge of the whole province and had access to the president’s ear. But Mary is putting on a brave face and pretending that this is all part of her plan.

Her brother, Temba Mliswa, the former independent MP for Norton, congratulated her on social media for staying in the game adding that being a councillor was much better than being an MP.

“Congratulations to Councillor Mary Mliswa-Chikoka on her assumption of office. The key to this is to stay in the game. You have done just that.

Well done, I’m proud of you. In practice you will find that it’s much better being a councillor than being an MP,” he wrote.

Mary’s story is a classic example of how politics can be unpredictable and cruel in Zimbabwe. She returned from the diaspora in 2018 and surprised everyone by winning the Hurungwe West seat, which was previously held by her brother. 

She was then appointed as Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister, making her the first woman to hold that position in Mashonaland West5.

But her meteoric rise also made her many enemies within Zanu PF, who accused her of being arrogant, incompetent and nepotistic. They plotted against her in the primaries and ensured that she lost to Kambuzuma, who had no political experience or popularity.

Mary’s fall from grace has elicited mixed reactions from Zimbabweans. Some have sympathized with her and praised her resilience, while others have mocked her and celebrated her downfall.

Here are some of the comments from X users:

  • “Mary Mliswa-Chikoka is an inspiration to all women. She shows that you can bounce back from any setback and still make a difference. Go girl!” – @SekaiMoyo
  • “Mary Mliswa-Chikoka is a joke. She thinks she can run a district when she couldn’t even run a province. She should just retire and leave politics to the real leaders.” – @TawandaMoyo
  • “Mary Mliswa-Chikoka is a victim of Zanu PF’s factionalism and patriarchy. She was sabotaged by her own party because they feared her potential and influence. She deserves better.” – @RuvimboChiweshe
  • “Mary Mliswa-Chikoka is a clown. She went from being a minister to being a councillor. That’s like going from being a CEO to being a janitor. What a downgrade!” – @TinasheMakoni

What do you think of Mary Mliswa-Chikoka’s new role? Do you think she can still make an impact as a councillor? Let us know in the comments section below.

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