Olivia Muchena is a Zimbabwean politician belonging to the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party. She was fired from cabinet and party structures in December 2014 on allegations of harbouring elements of factionalism by supporting the deposed vice president Joice Mujuru who was accused of plotting to unseat president Robert Mugabe from power.
Olivia Nyembezi Muchena|
September 18, 1969
|Education||University of Iowa, United States of America|
|Home town||Mutoko, Mashonaland East|
|Political party||Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front|
She was born Olivia Nyembezi Muchena on August 18, 1964. She is married to Tobias Muchena and has three children. She comes from Mutoko in Mashonaland East Province. Muchena is also a pastor with the United Methodist Church.
Muchena holds the following degrees:
- Diploma in Adult Education from the University of Edinburgh
- Bachelor of Arts from the University College Of Rhodesia
- Doctor of Philosophy from University of Iowa, United States of America.
Muchena participated in the liberation struggle at a tender age when she was still a student at the University of Rhodesia (now University of Zimbabwe).She became a ZANU PF member and chairperson of branches in Edinburgh and Rochester-Syracuse-Ithaca, New York in 1977.
She became popular in 1997 when she was appointed Deputy Minister of Lands and Agriculture, a post she held until 2001. Muchena was then appointed Minister of State in the Vice-President (Joseph Msika) Office until his death on August 2009. She rose through the ranks to become Minister of Science and Technology Development in 2003. During the Government of National Unity, she served as Woman's Affairs and Gender Development Minister as well as Mutoko South member of parliament between 2009 and 2013. She was also a member of the Constitutional Select Committee (COPAC) that was charged with the drafting of a new constitution in 2009.
She has headed several organisations namely:
- ZANU PF Women's League Political Commissar
- Deputy Dean in the Faculty of Education at the University of Zimbabwe
- Senior Agriculture, Economics and Extension Lecturer at University of Zimbabwe (1983-1995)
- Research Fellow in the Department of Adult Education (1981-1982)
- Research Fellow at the Centre for Applied Social Science, Women and Development Unit (1978-1978)
- Research Officer at the School of Social Work (1977-1977)
- General Secretary at Young Women's Christian Association (1972-1972)
- Director at Sakubva Community Centre (1971-1971)
She allegedly suspended her church activities to concentrate on a brutal and violent campaign for Robert Mugabe during the 2008 presidential run off. She allegedly organized terror squads and instructed them to deal with opposition supporters that resulted in some deaths. She allegedly targeted the Movement for Democratic Change supporters around her Mutoko district.
During the "Meet the People" rally held by the then incoming Women's league Secretary Grace Mugabe at Amazulu Sports Club i Bulawayo, she covered up a massive walk out by the people from the stadium presumably as a sign of demonstration against the first lady. The people are said to have marched out of the stadium whilst the first lady was in the middle of her speech. This was generally viewed as resistance to the first lady. Muchena attracted attention when she attempted to justify the walk out by the angry electorate. She argued that the people went on to receive food donations which were being distributed simultaneously with the first lady's speech. It was clear that Muchena had made efforts to explain resistance by the people of Bulawayo most of whom are generally believed to be sympathetic to the opposition the Movement for Democratic Change.
Demotion from Government
Muchena was part of the so-called Mujuru loyalist who were fired from government by Robert Mugabe in 2014. The Mujuru loyalists were accused of taking part in a plot led by the then vice president Joice Mujuru to unconstitutionally remove president Mugabe from power. Muchena was believed to have worked closely with the outspoken former ZANU PF chairman for Mashonaland east province Ray Kaukonde. Muchena was fired together with other senior party members such as Nicholas Goche, Didymus Mutasa, Rugare Gumbo, Jabulani Sibanda and Francis Nhema. She was replaced by Oppah Muchinguri who was generally viewed as loyal to Mugabe.
Expulsion from ZANU-PF
Muchena was expelled from the ZANU-PF party on the 21st of May 2015. She faced the axe together with other six senior members from different provinces. This followed her initial sacking as the minister of higher and tertiary education. She was also dismissed from the party structures before the subsequent expulsion. The dismissal was believed to be an ongoing agenda by the ZANU-PF party to eliminate those believed to be loyal to the former vice president Joice Mujuru.
- Olivia Muchena is a pastor in the United Methodist Church
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