By Wisdom Mumera
Hurungwe West legislator Mary Thandiwe Mliswa is more famous as Temba Mliswa’s sister than as her own person. Politically she has perennially been in the shadow of the Norton legislator who has been in the trade longer.
Mary who is also Minister of State for Mashonaland West, however, draws her political inspiration from her parents and specifically her father, Peter Mliswa, who fought in the war of liberation.
“I grew up in a home that introduced me to the political world at a tender age. My father was a decorated veteran of the struggle and it was this that inspired me to take on a different mindset.
“It is this strong political socialization at home that caused me to be always politically active,” she said.
Before returning home, Mary used to be a member of the Zanu PF UK branch and has learnt a lot from her brother politically.
“We are wired the same in terms of our political mindset and passion. Accordingly, he played a crucial part and showed me the ropes so to speak and I became his student.
“At that point, I wanted to make sure I get a thorough understanding of how the system works. Thus I spent a great deal of time being Honourable Mliswa’s apprentice and I eventually decided to start my political career in Karoi,” she said.
She started her political career from the cell level in Karoi, graduating to the district level until she eventually contested in the Zanu PF primary elections for the Hurungwe West seat defeating Keith Guzah and Chinjai Kambuzuma in the process.
Although the primary elections were marred by violence and alleged vote rigging, Mary contends she one due to her track record in the area.
In 2013 Mary headed the Hurungwe West Development Association, a developmental organisation vital to Temba Mliswa’s Parliamentary win.
“We did quite a great deal of developmental works. These include the sinking of boreholes, road resuscitation and reconstruction of bridges. We have also electrified three schools in Hurungwe West and started an ongoing solar project,” she said.
Mary is the third born in a family of five (two girls and three boys) and has been a card-carrying member of Zanu PF.
Her inability to rise on her own until the seeming intervention of Temba Mliswa has led to allegations that she was foisted upon the people of Hurungwe due to her brother’s track record in the area but she rejects the allegation.
“How can I ride on the popularity of Temba Mliswa when I’m Mary Mliswa? I have worked so hard in Hurungwe West, the people know me and they know what I’m capable of and I’m on the ground, I love the people, I work with them,” Mary said.
Her challenging task now is being in charge of a Province where she has to be in charge even of her hard-working brother.