HARARE, August 4 (IPS) – Idah Hanyani, commonly known as Gogo Chihera, has supported the opposition since Zimbabwe gained independence in 1980.
Born in Wedza, a district in Zimbabwe’s Mashonaland East province, the 91-year-old first supported the African Union National Council (UANC).
At her home in Glenview, a densely populated suburb of Harare, Hanyani told IPS she has been involved in anti-government protests for years. During the interview, she leaned back on a brown leather sofa given to her by opposition Citizens for Change (CCC) president Nelson Chamisa.
She said she has never missed a major protest rally since she got involved in opposition politics after the South African nation gained independence four decades ago.
“I am not new to opposition politics. I supported the UANC opposition led by Bishop Abel Muzorewa before he (Muzorewa) handed me over to Morgan Tsvangirai when the MDC was founded in 1999. Muzorewa announced that a new political party had been formed before that. he personally entrusted me to Tsvangirai to support his party at its formation, which I supported until Tsvangirai’s death in 2018,” Hanyani told IPS.
A mother of four, three of whom have passed away, Hanyani said she has 11 grandchildren. The country’s economic crisis has been unforgivable for her family, so they cannot support her.
“This is why I have told them to register to vote in the upcoming 2023 election, and most of them heed my advice,” Hanyani said.
Hanyani said only Olga, one of her grandchildren who lives in the UK, is supporting her.
Her husband died in 2004.
Hanyani said she has become famous around the country, being present at opposition CCC rallies, supporting the opposition from thick to thin as one of the country’s senior citizens, who yearn for political change in the face of Zimbabwe’s faltering economy.
On 20 February this year, she (Hanyani) was part of a sea of supporters gathered in the Zimbabwe Neighborhoods in the low-income suburb of Highfields, where her party, the CCC had a leader-led protest Party leader Nelson Chamisa speaks ahead of the March 26 by-election.
In March this year, Gogo Chihera was also present at the CCC rally in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second largest city.
“At every CCC rally I attend, I sit next to my son, the President, Chamisa and the host of the party,” she said, balancing her chin on her walking stick.
Hanyani said she knew she had become a celebrity in the opposition CCC, even occupying a high position in every major opposition rally.
For her, the protests have become a source of great joy.
“At every CCC rally, I feel overjoyed, like I’m being possessed by some strange supernatural power. At rallies where I go, people scream when they see me walking and sometimes dancing with the help of my cane. Everyone shouted – Chihera, hurry, Chihera, come! ” she speaks.
Ms. Hanyani said opposition CCC chair Chamisa intervened to directly deliver food packages to her every month.
Not only that, her outstanding support for Chamisa led to her receiving a sofa gift from the 44-year-old young leader earlier this year.
“Chamisa buys me food every month. Just one phone call to him, Chamisa can send someone to bring me food. Just last month, Chamisa bought me these leather sofas. He is a leader driven by love. I love that boy; he is a great leader,” said Gogo Chihera.
Hanyani’s support for Zimbabwe’s youngest opposition leader has been immortalized.
“I love Chamisa’s leadership. He has love and compassion like Jesus. Come what can, I love Chamisa until I die. I am not afraid of anything or anyone else. I support Chamisa with all my heart, with all my mind. Now, I can even stand out on the street or climb a tree and declare how much I support Chamisa without fear,” she told IPS.
But even as she supports Chamisa and the opposition CCC, her distrust of the Zimbabwe Elections Commission, the body that manages the polls here, has dampened her hopes of elections. transparent.
“Personally, I do not and cannot trust ZEC because Zanu-PF, at every election, sends thugs to chase Chamisa election officers at polling stations to stuff ballot boxes with fake votes. support the ruling party,” she said.
In a country where political intolerance is high, Hanyani also said: “I don’t like Zanu-PF people.”
“I don’t like Zanu-PF supporters even in my eyes, my mind and my heart. Hanyani said.
She said that she is not afraid of being attacked because of her political party, claiming that “Zanu-PF supporters are afraid of me. They know I speak my mind freely without fear in the face of them.”
She said Zimbabwe’s First Lady Auxilia Mnangagwa hugged her three years ago when she visited her area.
“Auxilia Mnangagwa in 2019, when she came here leading some cleaning campaigns, hugged me before she knew I was in the opposition. Then, when she learned I was an opposition supporter, she gave me the white cap that I still keep. I don’t know why she gave it to me. I don’t know if that’s a way of saying I’m coming to Zanu-PF,” said Hanyani.
Hanyani testified that she had many friends who secretly told her that they supported Chamisa behind the scenes because they were afraid of being persecuted by supporters of the ruling party.
“My friends secretly came to tell me that they supported me with Chamisa because they were afraid of violent Zanu-PF supporters. I am the bishop of change here in my area, and everyone here knows me. I know people want change right now,” she said.
Elder Hanyani claims that even some Zanu-PF supporters in her area are confiding in her about their secret support for Chamisa’s opposition CCC.
She said they (supporters of Zanu-PF) claim they only support their party during the day and switch to the opposition CCC at night, for fear of being brutalized.
In celebration of Zimbabwe’s Independence Day this year, Hanyani instead organized the celebrations.
“I agonize over this year’s independence celebration because many people, even with this independence, are suffering. I hate Mnangagwa. Mugabe is 100% better than him.”
Approaching the popular opposition slogan of the day, Hanyani said, “Mukomana ngaapinde hake”—- loosely translated to mean “let the young man in”, implying letting Chamisa take power.
Surprised at the upcoming Zimbabwean election next year, Hanyani said: “If Chamisa is declared the winner in 2023, even the birds of the sky will be happy to fall, angels. of Jesus Christ.”
“Then I will be the happiest person alive. Come the election next year,” she said.
Hanyani, aged 85 after the 2018 election, made headlines when, along with many other opposition activists, she stormed the Constitutional Court to tell President Mnangagwa’s lawyers that she wanted to leave. “they stole” votes back.
This comes after the controversial 2018 presidential election, which Mnangagwa won following a Constitutional Court ruling.
On the day of the IPS interview, Hanyani claimed that she only had tea and bread in the morning, and claimed she was hungry.
However, when she parted with IPS, she sang and danced, praising Chamisa.
“Chamisa, Chamisa, why are you doing this? Beware of enemies in the country; Chamisa; Chamisa; Your enemies abound in the water; Do you see the enemy? “singing old Hanyani.
Ironically, Chamisa has survived many assassination attempts.
Report of the United Nations Office IPS
© Inter Press Service (2022) – All rights reservedOrigin: Inter Press Service