Leonard Ncube , Victoria Falls Reporter
SHE was the first female councillor among 11 councillors in Victoria Falls in 2003 and has made history by becoming the first female Alderman in the city.
Ward Four Councillor Patricia Mwale (55) has been loyal to the city’s aspirations and vision as a councillor for close to two decades.
Her loyalty and dependable service has earned her the Alderman status which was conferred to her by the council last Tuesday.
An alderman is a member of a municipal assembly or council in many jurisdictions founded upon English law. Even a woman is called Alderman.
The major difference from an ordinary councillor is that alderman is an honorary title given to an elected councillor who has served for a long time as a member of municipality.
Alderman Mwale becomes the fifth Alderman and only woman to have been given the symbolic honour in the history of the local authority.
Victoria Falls was granted Local Board Status in 1965 before being declared a Town Council in 1971.
The town was upgraded into a municipality in September 1999 before being conferred city status by President Mnangagwa in December last year.
Alderman Mwale joined Victoria Falls as a councillor after winning the Ward Four seat on an MDC ticket in 2003, then making history by becoming the first female councillor in the resort town. Government recently recognised
Alderman Mwale for her sterling job as she is one of the councillors elected into the newly constituted Local Government Board (LGB).
After the 2018 harmonised elections, she was elected deputy mayor, a positon she holds to date.
She deputises mayor Clr Somveli Dlamini.
Victoria Falls City Council has 11 wards but has nine councillors after two councillors were expelled due to power wrangles between the MDC- Alliance and MDC-T.
“After serving the council faithfully since 2003, the council has resolved in terms of Section 106 of the Urban Councils Act to bestow the deputy mayor Patricia Mwale with the alderman status. Congratulations deputy mayor alderman Patricia Mwale,” said council.
The conferment was made in terms of Section 106 of the Urban Councils Act which reads: “A municipal council may appoint to the dignity of alderman any person who has held office as mayor or councillor on that council for a period of, or for periods which in the aggregate amount to, “eight years or more in the case of mayor, or ten years or more in the case of a councillor. An alderman may retain the title and use the crest and armorial bearings designated by the council for aldermen, whether he is a councillor or not.”
Alderman Mwale says the Alderman status is an achievement for all women.
“I was the only female councillor in 2003 in Victoria Falls. It has been a great journey characterised by ups and downs but until today I am still there and gaining experience each day.
“I believe this is an honour of leadership. It says a lot on its own, that I have to be exemplary, leave a legacy and be a way for other women to follow. This challenges me to do better and so I receive it with humility and appreciation that something has been seen in me. It’s not about me but a show of support from other women and community especially the electorate,” she said in an interview from Harare where she is attending a LGB meeting.
She left the city on Thursday going to Harare and said she had learnt to balance LGB demands and her role in council.
Alderman Mwale said her biggest challenge as a politician has been that she has been looked down upon especially by male counterparts.
“Getting into politics as a woman was my biggest challenge. People especially men didn’t believe in me and thought I wouldn’t manage. This was a huge challenge as I had to carry the burden of fighting a women’s agenda over and above the local government agenda,” said Alderman Mwale.
She was part of female councillors who attended the inaugural Zimbabwe Local Government Association (Zilga) women’s conference indaba in Victoria Falls last year under the banner of the Women in Local Government Forum (WILGF).
The organisation appealed for a 30 percent women quota in councils citing under representation.
President Mnangagwa acceded to the call and Government has started putting systems in place to implement the 30 percent quota.
In the 2023 general elections, councils will be asked to reserve 30 percent of the seats for women.
“It was a great pleasure when President Mnangagwa last year announced the 30 percent quota for women in local Government. This issue has been topical for years and we thank the President and all organisations and Government departments that supported us as women,” said Alderman Mwale.
Now as alderman, her duty will be to attend community engagements and civil ceremonies.
She urged women to believe in themselves.
“I want to tell other women that we can do it. Let’s have confidence and envy to upgrade ourselves academically and professionally. This is time to stand for our rights on merit. Gone are the days when women’s place was only in the home, we have to work and associate with others and fend for our families too,” she said.
Alderman Mwale is a mother of three sons and is married to Mr Abraham Mwale.
The couple relocated to Victoria Falls from Harare as newlyweds in 1986.
Alderman Mwale did secretarial studies at Range House in Harare before enrolling for a diploma in Executive
Leadership with the Zimbabwe Institute of Management.
She has also completed a number of short courses during her tenure as councillor.
Alderman Mwale joins the league of former mayor Alderman Nkosilathi Jiyane who was honoured in November last year as well as former councillors Roy Dube, Josephat Sipulila Mpofu and Enoch Sibanda who were honoured in 2006 after serving 10 years as councillors.
Alderman Jiyane was elected councillor on a Zanu-PF ticket in 2001 through a by-election. He retained the seat and became Mayor in 2008 until 2013.
Victoria Falls City Council Chamber Secretary Ms Kholwani Mangena said while there are no monetary benefits attached to the status, the new position will help in council operations.
“There are no financial entitlements to this honour except to enjoy the title, attending council civic functions and use of council crest. Council business can be complicated and history has shown that experienced people like the Alderman usually provide solutions,” she said. — @ncubeleon