Shuvai Ben Mahofa, the national heroine who passed on last Monday phoned several top Zanu-PF officials just hours before her death, it has emerged.
In her final phone calls she was encouraging them to ensure the ruling party remained united. Among those she called were Environment, Water and Climate Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri; National Assembly Deputy Speaker Mabel Chinomona, and Zanu-PF Politburo member Cleveria Chizema.
The state media say she telephoned Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri 10 times from around 10pm on August 13, 2017 and constantly relayed a single message about unity ahead of the 2018 harmonised elections.
The 11th phone call that came from Mahofa’s residence between 3am and 4am on August 14, was informing Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri of the Masvingo Provincial Affairs Minister’s death.
Mahofa (76) died last Sunday at Makurira Memorial Clinic in Masvingo after a long illness, and will be buried at the National Heroes Acre in Harare today.
In an interview with the state media Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said Mahofa was a true hero who was loyal to her party and country until death.
“On the night before she died, she phoned me at around 10pm, and spoke passionately. I could tell, though, that her health was failing as she coughed constantly throughout our conversation which lasted about 20 minutes.
“We spoke on various issues; her major subject was Zanu-PF. She pleaded with me to encourage party members to bury their differences and stop bickering and factionalism. At one point, she cried as she expressed displeasure over bickering within the party.”
She continued: “She spoke about next year’s elections and implored party members not to fight each other at such a crucial time when we are heading for elections. This was how passionate she was about Zanu-PF. Even in her last hours, on her deathbed, she was still concerned about Zanu-PF, and wanted it to remain strong.
“At around 3am the next morning, I then received a call that she had died. I later learnt that she had also spoken to Chizema, Chinomona and others.
“She had also told me that there should be deliberations on how more women can get into Parliament as proportional representation which favours women lapses in 2018.”
Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri described Mahofa as a revolutionary who championed empowerment and steered policies that uplifted women.
“I first met Mai Mahofa when I was returning from the liberation war. At that time, we were mobilising for the elections. We had come from the war and had no experience of civilian life. The likes of Mai Mahofa, Mai Chizema and Mai Mashonganyika helped integrate us into society.
“They were very powerful women as they had done work on the ground while we were at the warfront. This shaped the position that we took at Xaixai in Mozambique. They raised money and clothes for us because we had nothing when we returned from the war.”
On Mahofa’s views on equal rights, she said: “At the time, issues such as the imbalance between men’s and women’s (welfare) started to gain traction. Women were paid less, even if they were on the same job with men. Women also paid more tax than men.
“Mai Mahofa was instrumental in lobbying against such practises because she had the background, having worked with NGOs and done community work. She was the party’s point person when it came to equal rights. She used her powerful voice to good effect.
“As the Zanu-PF Women’s League Political Commissar, Mai Mahofa was a very strong character, and on many occasions fought men who ganged up against her in Masvingo.”
Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri also said: “She did many projects alongside all secretaries of the Women’s League. She pushed for programmes such as community gardens, chicken rearing, training centres, education for women and child development initiatives.
“She advocated equal opportunities for women in politics. Her experience in community work also helped in setting up women’s clubs that went on to be very popular in the 1990s.
“She played an influential role during the signing of the Unity Accord. She spoke fluent Ndebele and easily conversed with people from both Zanu and Zapu. This helped interaction among officials from the two parties. We drew a lot from her as she was one of the founders of the Women’s League.” – state media