2 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Grace Kwinjeh Throws Hat in Ring for Parliamentary Elections

Grace Kwinjeh, a veteran MDC-T activist who was last year honoured for coming up with the name 'Movement for Democratic Change,' has announced her intention to contest this year's parliamentary elections.

The 38 year-old Kwinjeh told SW Radio Africa on Wednesday she will be returning to Zimbabwe this month to take part in the internal party processes to choose candidates for elections, expected between June and August.

A fierce critic of the Robert Mugabe regime Kwinjeh has lived in exile in Brussels, Belgium for the past three years. She has been arrested several times on various trumped-up charges and has been held in solitary confinement.

She was also one of the high profile civic and political leaders brutally tortured on March 11, 2007 in Harare. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was one of those tortured at this time and shocking images of this brutality circled round the world.

After being tortured Kwinjeh and the others were hidden and held illegally for almost 72 hours in various police stations. They were denied access to lawyers and medical care, even though they all had serious injuries, including head traumas and broken bones.

Kwinjeh failed to contest the 2008 elections as she was still recovering from wounds inflicted during the torture.

'I'm going back home to fulfil a dream and that is to represent people in parliament. I have received numerous offers from different groups to represent them but for now my mind is set on Makoni Central,' Kwinjeh said.

The Makoni Central constituency is held by the MDC-T but the MP, John Nyamande, died in a horrific car crash in November 2009. Nyamande had wrestled the seat from ZANU PF's Patrick Chinamasa in the 2008 elections.

There are prospects that if Kwinjeh manages to sail through the party primaries she might face Justice Minister Chinamasa in the parliamentary elections.

'I'm a child of the party and I do not want any preferential treatment. I want to go there and take part in the internal process because I don't want to be imposed on the people. We are a democratic party and people should have an opportunity to choose their representatives,' she said.

Kwinjeh, a journalist by profession, is a founder member of the MDC and has served as deputy secretary for international affairs. She said she has decided to give it a go because of key issues that need to be addressed in the country.

'Being a party committed to social justice I believe a new government led by the MDC-T will advocate for an inclusive society in which everybody has a chance in life,' she explained.

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