HomeOpinion & Analysisbuilding narratives: Ex-minister clears air on her ouster in new book

building narratives: Ex-minister clears air on her ouster in new book

By Fungayi Sox
Former Higher and Tertiary Education,Science and Technology Development minister Olivia Muchena has set the record straight on events which led to her ouster from government after being accused of plotting to “dethrone” the late former president Robert Mugabe from power.

Muchena was dismissed from both the government and Zanu PF in 2015 following a long political career in which she served in different ministerial portfolios which included Agriculture, Lands and Rural Resettlement, Women’s Affairs, Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development, among others.

In her latest book titled The Next Generation African Political Leaders: The Power of Preparation, which was launched in Harare recently, Muchena insists that she was never part of any plot to oust Mugabe.

My service in government was terminated in December 2014, and my political career came to a dramatic end in May 2015. I was expelled from the Zanu PF during the inter-factional purging of party members around succession issues, on allegations of plotting to remove the President of the country and party by unconstitutional means – allegations which proved to be false. (pp 3)

The book is a leadership and political manual whose focus is centred around preparing the next generation of African political leaders and lays out the foundations for political and governmental leadership in an African context.

The next generation of African leaders do not need to go through the trial-and-error route,repeating mistakes of their predecessors.Some basic  knowledge of the political culture and terrain as well as Christian principles should result in a renewed political mindset,that in turn should transform political actors and political roles. (pp 5)

The launch was attended by prominent figures in the business, church, political and economic spheres with some of the guest speakers being dignitaries from different African countries who graced the event via Zoom.

Muchena, who is also a pastor, dismissed speculation  that she wanted to form a political party further stating that she had received warnings and that “there had been attempts to frustrate her book project including those of a “spiritual nature”.

In his foreword of the book, Brigalia Bam, who is the former chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa stated that: “the handbook provided political aspirants, especially the young leaders, with a foundation for leadership that is based on Christian values, practical advice based on Olivia’s 20-year experience in active politics, and lessons from the Bible” and further added that: “The detailed discussion of the personal, social, and institutional factors provide useful information that aspiring public leaders should consider before entering political life”.

In the book, Muchena makes use of her personal and political experience and shares a personal conviction, as a born-again believer, that it is desirable, imperative and possible for Christians to be “salt and light” in politics and government.

The book is rooted to the conviction that: “Christians have the potential to bring God’s kingdom values, and His will to be done in politics. It is essential to address wrong doctrines and teachings which have inhibited political involvement for many in the church. Christians and non-Christians alike must be equipped and empowered with basic knowledge, values and skills of the practicalities of politics”.

As she wrote her book, one cannot ignore, but notice how Muchena regains her previously stifled voice and redirects her moments of political wilderness and emotional turbulence to a call for transformational leadership and shift in political mindset and she does this through picking key important lessons learnt during her 20 years of service in government and the legislature.

Firstly, she makes a vociferous call for the church to occupy and provide guidance in the political leadership space through instilling good morals and integrity for the common good.

Secondly, she shuns out the politics of personality and calls for the next generation of African leaders to personally prepare for exit in politics through solving succession issues citing “preparation of exiting through grooming,coaching and mentoring”.

A common weakness in African political leadership is the inability to call it a day, leave office and pass on the baton. This often leads to succession conflicts and instability. Continuity mechanisms such as term limits, grooming and mentoring next generation leaders should be part of every political party at every level, including deliberate training and exposure to successful examples and how they achieved the success. The application of this principle at all levels of political leadership will help grow a culture of continuity and peaceful transition. (pp 61-62)

Finally, her motherly call and shift in focus to the plight of the young people and women on the African Continent is one of the prevalent areas of focus she points out in building the Next Generation of African Leaders and says her political and leadership handbook is her contribution to the attainment of Agenda 2063 aspiration number three “An Africa of good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law”.

She points out that young people belong to the digital generation, a powerful trait for organising through social media notwithstanding the urban rural divide and abuse of social media, have the great opportunityin taking the lead to initiate transformation in political mindset and leadership.

Muchena,“the woman MP from Mutoko South who was thrown into the Deep End in 1995”, as she refers to herself  in the book, may have fallen as a Cabinet minister in the governmental and political context, but her new assignment as a minister of the gospel of transformational leadership and renewed political mindset at a Pan-African levelmay just be beginning.

  • Fungayi Sox is the managing consultant at TisuMazwi — a communications consultancy firm that facilitates book project management including writing and publishing, marketing, digital media and personal development. He writes in his personal capacity and can be contacted on 0776 030 949 or connect with him on LinkedIn at Fungayi Antony Sox.

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