Article by Yvonne Mkondani
IT was all glitz and glamour in the August House last week as the recently elected Members of Parliament went all out with their stylists for the much-anticipated swearing-in ceremony.
Amidst all the rich designs worn and the excitement paraded, one lady stood out in her black shirt and red jacket and all I could think about was President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s speech since he became President, “leaving no one and no place behind.”
I, together with viewers who were following live proceedings from the event had one question, ‘Who is that lady in red wearing a fresh haircut?’
Where is she from?
Curiosity got the best of me and I had to know her story. She stood there unapologetic and took her oath before the nation and the Almighty to serve the country to the best of her ability and represent the youth in the August House.
She came from Rushinga, some 250 kilometres away from Harare. She is just a simple 27-year-old mother of two who, at the end of the proceedings, left with one of the most revered titles to her name, Honourable Barbara Thomson, ZANU PF’s Youth Quota representative for Mashonaland Central!
Girl power at its best!
Okay, but who is she and why her in Parliament? Some of the questions asked. The answer is rather a simple, Why not her?
Her story is nothing out of a fairy tale but everything from a motivational book of girls who do not back down from making a difference, women who do not shy away from politics and well-connected men, women who leave a mark.
Honourable Thomson was born and raised in Eyecourt, Harare from her father’s tow truck earnings in a family of four.
Unlike most girls her age, she could not proceed with her education beyond her Advanced Level as her father’s salary could not sustain the family.
“I was born and raised in Harare in Eyecourt. I learnt at Hatfield Primary and Hatfield Girls High School and I did my Advanced Level at Young Africa in Chitungwiza, Makoni. We are four in our family and I am the second born and only girl,” she said.
“My father had a tow truck, that’s how we earned a living. When I was in Form 6, my father’s salary had many responsibilities thereby failing to pay my exam fee and that was the end of the road for me academically.”
Honourable Thomson’s dreams and hopes of becoming a lawyer or a secretary were crushed as she could not further her education.
She always had an interest in politics and she began her journey.
“When I reached 18 years, as youths we were recruited into district committees. I was youth P.C and that is when I got used to politics. By then I lived in Harare South Constituency.
“I later got married in 2016 in Rushinga and there I started again my political journey as a cell secretary. In 2018, I was appointed youth treasurer for the district to date. Then eventually out of the blue, my councillor for Ward 18 asked for my qualifications and they were submitted and I qualified and was sworn into Parliament.”
Outside of the political roles that she has faithfully served in over the years, she is the village baker and a master farmer where she stays.
“I bake buns and sell in the village. I was always interested in baking and I asked my neighbours to teach me, but they were not interested and I had to travel to one of my mother’s in Mutoko who taught me to bake bread and buns. My husband built me a ngoda oven and that’s how I started.
“I started small but now I bake about 120 buns a day and supply the village and local shops. My husband is very loving and supportive of everything I do. He bought two pigs for us to keep. They were wild we ended up selling them and replaced them with Boer pigs and to date we have over 40 pigs that we keep and that is a very lucrative project we have. I also do a bit of farming for my family’s consumption.”
Honourable Thomson is all about youth empowerment and the nation should brace up for interesting debates and initiatives from her in the August House.
“I joined politics to speak up for the youths and women who are not taking education seriously thereby not being able to embrace projects and developments being offered by the President which are clearly life changing as I am testimony to that. I have been able to buy my own cattle as a result of the projects that I run.”
She is also a mother to two beautiful girls aged five and one and she looks forward to furthering her education.
The future of Rushinga, women and the youth is in safe hands, as evidenced by the new faces of people in Parliament with stories that the rest of us can relate to.