Linda Kushinga Sibanyoni

‘Action’ politician Linda Sibanyoni guns for Harare East in words and deeds

By Tulip Chirova

On a scale of 0 to 10, how do you rate the self-confidence of a young lady seeking to contest for public office in Harare East as an MP? HOURLYHITS.COM spoke to Linda Kushinga Sibanyoni to find whether she deserves a 10-star rating as she continues on her path towards winning the seat currently occupied by MDC Alliance vice president Tendai Biti.

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Linda is a bold and articulate young lady who exudes the confidence of an achiever and not a mere dreamer. An auditor by profession with 10 years’ experience who served articles at Grant Thornton Zimbabwe, Linda has a solid career and doesn’t pass off as one of those who hop into politics for fame and a quick buck.

Having seen that Harare East constituency’s teething problems have been mounting instead of diminishing over the past 20 years, Linda decided to step up to the task and be the people’s representative herself. 

“It’s not a dream; it’s reality. A dream is something that hasn’t started,” Linda emphasized when we asked her what she was doing to ensure she wins the 2023 election. “I am a driven, resourceful and hard-working young lady, who has a strong passion for integrity and ethical leadership.”

Most people seeking to enter Parliament for the first time would think of a constituency where the incumbent is relatively unknown, but Linda is not afraid of anyone or anything.

“What gives me the guts? What shouldn’t give me the guts though? I am just a Zimbabwean exercising her constitutional rights to run for public office,” Linda says.

Linda is a Staley School of Leadership Studies alumni and a Mandela Washington Fellow 2019. It takes a leader of character to admit where one loses in an election. Admitting that one lost enables them to asses the weakness of their strategy and fine-tune it so that there is better chance of winning next time.

A rare politician

Linda contested in the 2018 elections and admits she lost but the fight is not over as she has a better approach for 2023.

“I am an independent candidate and I ran in 2018 against Honourable Tendai Biti and I lost,” says Linda. “I know I lost the last election because my value proposition simply did not resonate with the majority of voters.”

This is a rare admission in Zimbabwean politics where courts are choked with electoral petitions after every election. But maybe that’s not surprising because Linda is not your everyday kind of politician who blames everyone else except themselves.

“In 2023 my goal is to just present a better value proposition to the constituents with hopes of garnering enough votes to win the election.

“I was the only female candidate and youngest in Harare East. Running again in 2023 has been an open secret since the day I lost.”

She admits she had low funding in 2018, as she used own resources. That was like suicide in a contest that featured former Finance Deputy Minister Terrence Mukupe, then MDC-T vice president Obert Gutu and Biti. She managed 485 votes against Biti’s 20 592 but has picked herself up and is already pumping in own resources in the constituency.

Bullies and boreholes

Linda has already drilled two boreholes in Tafara and erected water tanks, with more boreholes lined up for the long-neglected community. Her intervention is timely considering the ravaging pandemic.

Linda is running as an independent candidate.  She tried party politics before but it appears she won’t last long in a political party where officials are whipped into line and have their views constricted all the time. She just talks plain straight and wouldn’t last an hour in either Zanu-PF or any of the MDCs.

“Political parties are abusive and if you are female and value your mental health and peace of mind it’s much better to be an independent politician;” Linda said.

She’s bullied nearly everyday by insecure supporters of rival politicians whenever she shares with her followers the developments she’s making on the ground in Harare East, but she’s not the type that gets cowed by bullies.

“You have autonomy as well to speak truth to power at all times versus speaking truth to political party. I’m a female independent politician because my ethics and integrity are important. It’s not about title nor office at any cost.

“It would be nice to be in office in order to be in a position to push for certain policies in the broader development agenda of Zimbabwe but not at the expense of my ethics and integrity. I came from a community of people made up of family and friends who expect my very best foot forward at all times.”

Apparently, she’s not reinventing the wheel. While the Zimbabwean voting patterns tend to be a binary shift between the ruling party Zanu-PF and the opposition MDC, there are instances where voters recognized and rewarded hardworking independent candidates. Former Minister Jonathan Moyo won Tsholotsho North as an independent in 2008 and Norton voted twice for Temba Mliswa as an independent.

Linda respects those in political parties as much as she need her choices respected. At the end of the day, the voters will simply choose the best proposition for their circumstances.

“As for the many political parties (in Zimbabwe), I agree it is very good for democracy. No one is owed a vote by virtue of just being opposition,” Linda said.

“A candidate or the party that has the best value proposition that resonates with the voters will always win.”

None but ourselves

Linda urges Zimbabweans to look amongst themselves for solutions to their challenges because no outsider would do that.

“We all know what is wrong with Zimbabwe, no one is coming to save us and that’s why I decided to put my best foot forward and do the best I can to serve my nation. The economy could be better.

“Zimbabwe has been facing challenges for last 20 or so years and we have been on a downward trajectory. Add the Covid-19 pandemic to it, so we all have been challenged extremely including developed economies.

“However I do believe we have no other nation but Zimbabwe so we must commit to ensuring Zimbabwe works. We must commit as Zimbabweans to be diligent and patriotic at whatever station we find ourselves at in the economics of our nation.”

Each Zimbabwean can play their role towards a common good, hence her port of service being a solution implementor within her capacity to the challenges that are faced in Harare East.

“I describe myself as a working politician which means I’m not a career politician. As a working politician I am involved in a number of entrepreneurial activities and various investment pockets.”

It is unbelievably easy to get Linda Sibanyoni to talk about her politics and career, but we hit a thick brickwall with regards to her personal life outside politics and work. She’s under no illusion as to how dirty politics can get, and won’t be bulldozed into divulging what she believes isn’t for public consumption.

“My personal life is not privy to the public as I have family and friends to protect from malicious and unsolicited attacks that come with political terrain.”

Solid career

As young as she is, Linda has already seen a lot of the corporate boardroom and continues opening new avenues in her profession. As an experienced Articled Clerk with a demonstrated history of working in the auditing and accounting profession, she has had vast exposure in various industries such as financial services, manufacturing, not for profit organisations and the energy sector.

After leaving Grant Thornton in 2015, she went into accounting and business advisory services for start-ups and SMEs. She incorporated Trinity, an advisory firm which provides tailor made accounting and business solutions to mainly start-ups and various SMEs

She sits on several boards including theTrustees for Girls 4 Girls (Zimbabwe), which is part of the international organisation Project Girls 4 Girls. G4G aims to help young women develop courage, vision and skills to take on public leadership.

Linda describes herself as a “dynamic impact entrepreneur” and has varying interests in the clothing and retail industry, the agro-processing industry andbthe food industry.

She entered mainstream politics in 2016, with a view of “ushering change in Zimbabwe and adding the much needed almost silenced voice of a strong and courageous female youth”. She joined the African Democratic Party.

In November 2016, she was appointed the party’s head of policy responsible for the general oversight and development of the organisation’s policy in line with its resolutions. She was among the various opposition leaders who met in Cape Town for a four day retreat organized by In Transformation Initiative to discuss the crisis in Zimbabwe and form a broad coalition.

Linda also sat in both the Coalition of Democrats (CODE) Secretary-Generals weekly meetings and as well as ZINERA weekly meetings. ZINERA sought to close ranks in opposition parties and form a broad coalition, but the parties would just not agree on one route to take.

Actions speak louder

Any politician can mouth any big words and entertain the voters, but it takes character and a genuine desire to serve for one to really be on the ground using own resources to change livelihoods in the community. Linda must be applauded, at least for being on the ground doing projects when there’s not even an election in sight.

“I’m ready to build Zimbabwe with whoever is leading. Zimbabwe comes first that is my politics,” Linda said in one her social media posts nearly three years ago.

The fact that she’s still living up to it, three years later, probably shows a politician who does what she says and says what she does.

“We have to keep Zimbabwe going in whatever sphere of influences.”

Let’s throw in the question again: On a scale of 0 to 10, how do you rate the self-confidence of a young lady seeking to contest for public office in Harare East as an MP? It’s simple: You go on the ground and see who has got projects going on in the constituency. – HOURLYHITS.COM

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