- She had joined the MDC-T by invitation after the party considered her track record in women rights activism, but when Nelson Chamisa took over in 2018, the party went quiet on her.
By Mutsa Makuvaza
A MEMBER of the opposition MDC Alliance National Executive Committee who is also the party’s former MP and its former shadow minister for women’s affairs, Fanny Chirisa, has died.
She was 68.
Chirisa, a former Proportional Representative MP for the party under Morgan Tsvangirai, died this week in Harare.
In a statement, the party said: “MDC Alliance is saddened to learn of the passing of prominent women’s rights activist and former MP, Hon Fanny Chirisa. Hon Chirisa was a member of the MDC Alliance National Executive Committee.
“We extend our deepest condolences to her family on this sad loss. We remember the immense contribution of Hon Fanny Chirisa to the cause of women’s participation in politics. She will be deeply missed by the MDC Alliance, civic society and Zimbabweans at large.”
Chirisa had so much love for women emancipation to the extent that it cost her marriage.
Born in Mutare in 1951, Chirisa grew up in Sakubva where she attended school and subsequently got into a lot of courses on women’s issues where her passion all her life was. She got married and had two children, then trouble began.
When Chirisa started women rights activism, it got into the nerves of her husband and resulted in the couple’s separation.
She remained unrestrained in women’s rights issues while working for Nango, a coalition of non governmental organisations.
In 1984, attended a United Nations programme at the University of Iowa in the United States where she attained a diploma in social work.
Her long career in charity and activism has seen her work for Save the Children Norway and was deployed in Masvingo where she headed the organisation’s feeding programme for seven districts.
Chirisa also had a stint with the Zimbabwe Women Resource Centre Network as a programmes officer where she worked with women MPs, linking them to their constituents. Later she joined the Women in Politics Support Unit (WiPSU) where she worked for 13 years as director from 1998 to 2011.
From activism and charity work, Chirisa joined the MDC-T led by Tsvangirai and was appointed a proportional representation MP. In Parliament, she served in the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Public Accounts (PAC) and the Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs.
She also served on the Portfolio Committee on Gender and Women Affairs, the Foreign Affairs Committee and finally the Mines and Energy Portfolio Committee where she chaired the sub-committee on energy.
Tsvangirai also appointed her the party’s shadow minister of women affairs.
The death of Tsvangirai in February 2018 signalled the end of the road for Chirisa’s active political career. She had joined the MDC-T by invitation after the party considered her track record in women rights activism, but when Nelson Chamisa took over in 2018, the party went quiet on her.
“I do not know yet (if I will return to Parliament under Chamisa) because the party is still quiet about who will represent them under the proportional representation quota. But, I believe I have done well and would like to come back,” she said ahead of the 2018 elections.
Meanwhile, mourners are gathered at 1391 Picknick Park, Waterfalls, Harare. – Zimbabwe Voice ■