Feminist Groups Defend Abuser Turned Victim, Jocelyn Chiwenga
But ordinary Zimbabweans feel allegations of domestic physical and emotional abuse she suffered will be good respite to some of her victims she also abused without any recourse to the law.
An visibly spent Jocelyn Chiwenga was splashed on the face of this week’s Standard Newspaper pouring out on her domestic problems in a clear case of attracting sympathy.
Reactions to her dramatic change of fortunes from Zimbabweans and women’s organisations differed.
Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) programmes co-ordinator Magodonga Mahlangu said in spite of Jocelyn’s record as a Zanu-PF fanatic who went to ridiculous lengths to demonstrate her allegiance, there was no reason to gloat over her misfortunes.
“To us, she is still a woman and there are no justifiable cases of abuse of women,” she said.
“However, it would be very unfortunate if it turns out she was also abusing other people as a way of venting her frustrations over her experiences at home.
“Moreso, the abuse of a woman of Jocelyn Chiwenga’s status by a husband of such status shows that domestic violence knows no social class and it is disheartening for us to hear that our concerted efforts to end domestic violence are falling on deaf ears.”
Women’s Coalition national co-ordinator Netsai Mushonga commended Jocelyn Chiwenga for speaking publicly on her frustrations at a time some women would prefer to suffer in silence to preserve their dignity.
“Yes, she may have wronged others in one sphere, but what we do not want to ignore is that she has also been wronged in another sphere. She may have erred but two wrongs do not make a right,” she said.
A woman with the Federation of African Media Women Zimbabwe (FAMWZ) who spoke on condition of anonymity for professional reasons blamed the army chief for abusing his authority as the most powerful soldier in the land to prey on “a helpless” woman.
“I want to take a stand as a woman, there are no justifiable circumstances of abuse on women. Her husband should not use his power to abuse a helpless woman,” she said.
Reactions differed elsewhere.
“It serves her right,” said one Isabel Samuriwo, a Harare resident, “It is a shame that the same larger than life character who thought she and her husband owned the world now wants sympathy even from the same people she abused.”
David Kilasi, another Harare resident said it would have been very easy to feel pity for Jocelyn Chiwenga if she was a different woman who had no past transgressions against fellow citizens.
Others went for the army commander whom they accused of abusing everyone in the country.
“It looks like his trail of destruction does not end at only harassing Zanu-PF opponents. Even his wife is being abused. When power is in the wrong hands, it brings pain to those seeking protection from it,” said Peter Mazuru, a Harare resident.
Jocelyn Chiwenga’s shenanigans date back to 2001 when she accosted and beat up then Daily News lawyer Gugulethu Moyo at a Harare police station, condemning her to seeking medical treatment.
She was accusing her paper of “encouraging anarchy in this country”.
In April 2002, she pounced at a farm outside Harare accompanied by a Zanu-PF gang and ordered the farm’s white owner to turn over his property to her or be killed.
She reportedly warned the farmer: “I have not tasted white blood for 20 years.”
In August 2007, she hurled insults at then opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai whom she met at a busy supermarket in Harare’s Hillside suburb.
She slapped photo journalist Tsvangirai Mukwazhi who was covering the tour.
Tsvangirai, who was accompanied by several officials of his MDC party, had visited the supermarket to witness the impact of government’s price freeze decree which left shelves depleted.
“I want to take away your manhood today,” shouted an irate Chiwenga, who was in the company of bodyguards in army uniform.
Two other journalists sustained minor injuries in the stampede to escape from the shop.
Jocelyn Chiwenga is among over a hundred of President Robert Mugabe’s loyalists who were slapped with EU travel sanctions for rights abuses and suppressing democracy in the country.