Margaret Dongo only joined Parliament in 1990 as a ZANU (PF) candidate. Her entrance into the contest for the parliamentary seat in itself indicates she was a survivor because most of the primary elections were really not up to the constituents, witness the Luveve primaries that had to be held several times until the favoured candidate, Angeline Masuku, finally won.
Unlike most people who enter politics on party tickets and therefore tend to reserve their harsher comments to party meetings Margaret Dongo is believed to be causing a lot of consternation within the party hierarchy as she has not only confined herself to women’s issues but to the bread-and-butter issues that affect every citizen.
Right now there are strong feelings that if there were an election and she stood in any constituency she would only be beaten by a few veterans who too have not spared government resulting in President Mugabe openly saying: “There are those among us, and they are only a handful of individuals, who think that democracy within an organisation is the art of differing within that organisation. They will avoid debate of issues in this forum (central committee) and seek cheap popularity in their communities through public negation of criticism of policies properly adopted by the party and government.
“Do they still belong with us, or they are merely pretending to belong to ZANU-PF when their true membership lies elsewhere. The doors are always open.”
Dongo has been outspoken on a number of issues. These include who should be declared a national or provincial hero and what criterion is used. The motion had at one time to be dropped after she insisted the debate should go ahead but was advised by the leader of the house, Emmerson Mnangagwa, that Parliament may not be the right platform.
She has also raised queries about the genuineness of the leaders of the Indigenous Business Development Centre. She said the leaders of this august body should not only seek benefits for themselves but for their members as well.
She has been spearheading the War Veterans Bill and at one time got emotional when colleague Micah Bhebhe said ex-combatants should concentrate on improving their educational qualification.
Dongo has criticised the slow distribution of food and the appointment of resident ministers saying this was just another way of building useless empires. What the people need is food and not ministers, she said.
She has called for the abolition of school fees introduced in January saying because of the drought most people cannot afford to pay for them.
Dongo, however, appears to be a lone star, especially among the women MPs, as former firebrands like Ruth Chinamano now seem to have taken the sidelines perhaps now only waiting for a pension since she is only in the house at the mercy of the President who appointed her a non-constituent MP.
One can hardly believe there are other women MPs in the house. The only visible women leaders are the ministers and deputy ministers but most of the time they are praise singing.