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Dr. Masimba Mavaza: stick to Zanu PF/MDC-T politics please!

03 Oct 2020 at 20:24hrs | Views
Nomazulu Thata
I have just finished reading your today's article: "How Zimbabweans in the Diaspora wreck their marriages" is the title. Your article has the hallmarks of a misogynist who is hell-bent to defend his gender against gender-based crimes that Zimbabwean married men commit in the UK. Your first example is of a woman who followed her husband to UK, after a while she started going out with her friends, one occasion she was brought home by a male friend and suddenly she was seeking shelter in sheltered homes for abused women. Your narratives has holes, full of inconsistencies, incomplete narrative of a story: you obviously left out a lot of information so that you can portray women as the ones unstable, irrational in marriages. Fortunately, I have lived in the UK for six years and have witnessed breaking up marriages, many of them.

Once more, like in many articles I write, I bring back the culture of marriage in our societies as my entry point in this discourse. Marriage in our culture is not a marriage of equals but power-seeking: man enjoys long standing historical privileges of being a king of the family and commander of his wife and children. In Zimbabwe, a man is superior to the woman he is married to and this is how power is instituted. But not in the UK.

A man who tries to treat his wife as an equal; men will automatically say it loud that it is "love potions" given to him: he is not normal, under herbal sedatives, is not capable of rationally thinking. Our culture says the man is the boss in the home; be it at home in Zimbabwe or in the Diaspora, there should never be any difference. But the truth is that when women arrive in the Diaspora they are exposed to globalisation: global societal changes have taken place in the context of globalization with its politics, religion, and technological advancement. Our women learn that gender equality is not western based but an evolution process. They learn that in the UK gender issues are a hot topic debated everyday in radio and all other media social outlets. Which stupid woman will not take advantage to develop herself socially and economically?

But our men come to UK and want to stick to those traditions that tell him he is the chief and superior to his wife: If there are children, he will expect his wife to work and look after them including the housework. (There are no maids in the UK) This load of work exhausts the woman as time goes on. She expects the husband to share functions and responsibilities of housework and looking after the children. This is where the problem comes in. Our men do not want to be told anything by a female, that is below their dignity. Housework is a woman's job: washing clothes even with a washing machine, he feels insulted. Children in our culture are the sole responsibility of the mother: The bind comes in when the woman is expected to work full time, sometimes she will be connecting several care jobs to generate much needed income for the benefit of all.  

When a man is told by a wife to wash dishes, cook for the children, take the laundry to dry out, he becomes aggressive. At home in Zimbabwe such women are beaten as a corrective so that they learn hard who is the boss in the home. Now because the woman will have informed herself about the rights of women in the UK, she reports the husband to the law-enforcers who will then arrest the man for assault. This word assault is not a vocabulary at home in Zimbabwe, the word domestic violence is not spoken so loudly in Zimbabwe as in the UK. This is the information missing in Dr. Masimba Mavaza in his inward-looking, at best not critical analysis of gender issues. Zimbabwean women in the UK cope with crude gender violence every day.  Mavaza is not telling the truth when he says a woman asked for divorce because she asked the husband to wash dishes and he refused. This narrative trivializes a woman and her cause to liberate herself from patriarchy.

To quote the Doctor again verbatim: "She would remind him that they were now in the UK and that "border ndimaenzanise", meaning they were now equal since they were no longer in Zimbabwe after crossing the border. One day, Petros observed his wife being dropped by a man and he was angry, leading to an argument." Close quote. This statement is short-changing because it feeds into the narrative that women are loose when they fight gender imbalances to consciously destroy marriages. This a power-seeking fight between the two. The wife learnt fast about her rights as a married woman living in the UK. She suddenly got enlightened about her gender rights and was able to demand what rightly belongs to her.

This is how women are treated when a man wants to find wrongs in her to dehumanize her: he deems her a prostitute. He sees his wife being dropped by a male who innocently gave her a lift home after a shift. In Zimbabwe yes, it can lead to femicide to accept a lift from a male person. Mavaza's narrative means that this wife has a lover: Again Mavaza does not furnish us with the other side of the coin: What was the woman's story to this conflict? Back home in Zimbabwe, in any family breakage a man' story is the one to be listened to than a woman story. Mavaza listened to the story men facilitated as right and correct. The tradition, common law marriage find faults in a woman and the actions of a man are wholly sanitized to disadvantage the woman, but not in the UK, hence this statement "border ndimaenzanise" is legitimate and correct.

I quote you once more: Marriage has lost value, if one party in the marriage becomes stubborn the marriage is gone." Close quote. This stubborn is reference to the woman. A woman who has realized her rights is called a stubborn woman. It is not that divorce has become fashionable, for us who know the challenges of living under immense hardships: life in the UK is not roses in the garden, it demands focus and hard work. Now you find that a husband still wants to maintain those lavish lifestyles he is used to in Zimbabwe where he was King, he will rudely find himself having to cope life on his own; divorce him. Women in the UK find it better to cope with life alone with the children than to maintain a husband who does not wan to work. How many husbands do not work in the UK? Children continue to be born while men continue to live lavishly at the expense of their spouses: Very few women can cope with this kind of deceit.

Some Zimbabwean men laze around under the disguise they are studying at the university. They become professional students: studies stretch to about ten years without end. Conflicts in such classical cases are pre- programmed, pre-determined, unavoidable, no woman can maintain a loafer for so long, men who do not want to do care-work jobs like many women in the UK, but rather let the woman do the menial jobs. Having worked hard, connected three jobs in 24 hours, tired she accepts a lift from a male co-worker, instantly she is automatically labelled loose. She is cheating. These are facts Mavaza should have researched properly before he wrote his inward-looking article, a lot of information is missing.

How many Zimbabwean women have died in the UK because of gender-based-violence? The least I expect from Mavaza to learn to be sensitive in his articles on gender. We have lost many women's lives due to violence against women. Gender-based violence in the UK borders on financial constraints in most cases. The women can immerse themselves in hard work, but their commitment to the family fiscus is not reciprocated by the husbands leading to conflicts most of them are harmful to women.

Sure you highlighted something particularly important: you said that support structures that usually come to quell the marriage fires are not available in the UK. I grew up in Zimbabwe, I know how short-changing these social family units can be towards women in man-woman disagreements. Women relatives will tell you to cope with all the nonsense of man-stupidities to save the marriage breaking. This puts a lot of pressure on the woman to cope with cases unimaginable by common sense. Hence it is a blessing in disguise to use those laws where you are domiciled to quit the establishment that is unequal. We women have realized that it is pleasurable to be single, we cope well even with children to look after, you are not under pressure from a dishonest husband. But it is not the case with men. A man hardly can cope alone, worse if he has children under his custody.    

For Mavaza to go to the pub and share a glass of gin and tonic with disgruntled, frustrated husbands and then the next day he sits down and writes an article that trivializes, waters down a woman is certainly not clever, it is not amusing.

Source - Nomazulu Thata
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