Burj – Al Arab Hotel, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 31st March 2012.
I am naturally elated to receive this Award tonight. When I left school to join our liberation struggle, it was because of my conviction and determination that all Zimbabweans must be given a fair chance to live a decent life regardless of race, colour, tribe or sex. I was fighting against discrimination. The struggle for the liberation of Zimbabwe was bitter and protracted but because, like my fellow comrades, I was convinced that I was fighting for a just cause, I soldiered on. The liberation struggle was never defined by what post one would hold after independence, it was simply so that we would end discrimination in our country and build a Zimbabwe where everyone, black or white, male or female, Shona or Ndebele would have equal opportunities.
The settler army was well resourced. Fighter planes, helicopters, heavy artillery, all terrain vehicles, automatic machine guns, efficient communications systems, they had them all. What they did not have was a just cause for fighting. They were fighting to perpetuate a discredited system hence they did not have the people on their side. That is how and why we eventually brought them to the negotiating table. Now, as I receive this award, it is a stack reminder to me, as to my fellow comrades, of the need to be with the people. During the war they fed us, they clothed us, they were the mode of communication, and we survived because of them. They were fighting with us so that they too would enjoy the fruits of liberation.
I was nominated to receive this award because of my struggle for the upliftment of women and the less privileged in Zimbabwe, and my region, not because I have succeeded in uplifting them. This award therefore serves as a reminder that the struggle for the emancipation of African women is not yet won, but is worth pursuing. It serves as a reminder that there are women and children out there who can hardly afford one decent meal per day and yet they contributed, in their own special way, towards the liberation of ZImbabwe, and indeed the liberation of any other sister African State. It serves as reminder that political independence is just the beginning of the freedoms that women and men of Africa liberated themselves to enjoy, others being freedom from hunger, violence of any form, and gender based discrimination. Yes, Africa is free politically, but some of our people still need to be empowered for them to enjoy the fruits of the struggle and independence, this includes the disabled.
Yesterday we were together in the trenches with our brothers in our quest to liberate Africa. We were equal. This award serves to remind my brothers here and in the rest of Africa that as well were equal in the struggle and so should it still be today as we enjoy the freedom of uhuru. Let us join hands to empower the women of Zimbabwe, indeed the women of Africa! As we say in Zimbabwe “men of quality are not afraid of equality.” Empower women and you have empowered the majority! Empower women and you will have empowered the Nation.
Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, I will cherish this award for life, but a I receive it I know that this has been possible because of the support I received throughout my life from other people. Allow me therefore to pay special tribute to all the comrades who fought for the liberation of Zimbabwe.
Their contribution and sacrifice put together made me who I am today. I must also mention the Frontline States then, for the support, both material and moral they contributed towards the liberation of Zimbabwe. I would not have made it tonight if my country was still under bondage.
A special mention goes to my late husband, General Solomon Tapfumaneyi Mujuru, revered in the liberation struggle as ‘mukoma Rex Nhongo’ for believing in me and his endless encouragement. Thanks Baba vaChi for being there for me. Allow me also to thank, in a special way, my daughters and grand children for their tireless efforts to cover the gap left by my late husband. Tribute also goes to my mother, brother and sisters.
The women of Zimbabwe, particularly the ZANU PF Women’s League, have been there for me all the time and for that, I salute them. In this category also comes the team that works with me. I am a hard worker – no apologies for that – and I want to thank my support staff for living up to my expectations. Well done, but please remember the Family Dignity programme is just taking shape so I will be demanding more from you until dignity is restored to each and every Zimbabwean family.
To cap it all, allow me to acknowledge and thank my mentor and pillar or strength, His Excellency, President Mugabe for believing in me. When I came back from the struggle he appointed me as his first female Cabinet Minister when I was only twenty-five. He encouraged me to read and even personally took me for some lessons. That is how I got my Junior Certificate, then Ordinary level leading to my Advanced Level qualifications. On his encouragement, I proceeded to do my Bachelors degree and subsequently a Masters degree in Strategic Management. He gave me, and indeed millions of Zimbabweans, what no one can ever take away from us, education, and for that I say “thank you, Your Excellency”.
I want to thank the Centre for Economic and Leadership Development for acknowledging my contribution to the empowerment of the Zimbabwean woman, and presenting this award to me tonight. Allow me to thank each one of you for being here tonight to witness this event. If Mrs. Furo Giami was giving me this Award at her house or mine, just between the two of us, it would be different. It is my hope that this award will serve to inspire other African women and to remind them that as they get to the top, they should not forget the fellow sisters who helped them to get there. Thank you all for being here to celebrate with me.
Finally and most importantly, I thank God for the special gift of life and I pray He continues to bless me, my family and Africa.
I Thank you.