Zimbabwean politics toxic: Molokele

Daniel Molokele

MDC national spokesperson Daniel Molokele entered the political fray ahead of the fifth MDC congress as a stranger to many frontliners of the main opposition party led by Nelson Chamisa.

Unlike his competitors in the race for the party’s powerful post of secretary-general, Molokele was not a familiar face.

In a bid to demystify the soft-spoken MDC spokesperson, NewsDay caught up with him. He revealed that he finds the current political and socio-economic environment toxic.

“The current political and economic situation is very bad. I believe that our politics is too toxic. It is not adding value to the people of Zimbabwe. Millions of Zimbabweans are stranded at the moment. So my wish is that politicians must put the nation first. Politicians must find each other and work together and make sure that we, as a country, unite and build a better future,” he said.

Zimbabwe is torn along political lines, with the main political parties the MDC and the ruling Zanu PF failing to come together to resolve the deepening socio-economic and political crisis.

“So I believe there should be a way in which politicians work together; that is what Zimbabweans need right now. There should be a way in which politicians can work together.

Then the economics will be sorted out. Seek first the political kingdom, then the economic benefits shall follow,” Molokele said.

A pro-democracy human rights lawyer, Molokele has a proven record in the fight for democracy in Zimbabwe and South Africa. Over the years, he has also established himself as a pan-African civil society leader and until recently, he was based in Johannesburg, South Africa. He has now relocated to his hometown of Hwange where he is MP for Hwange Central, where he is carrying out various community-building initiatives to improve livelihoods.

Molokele was born on January 31, 1975 at the Wankie Colliery Hospital in the town of Hwange. His father, Godfrey Majahana Mguni, was a career trade unionist and a well-known community leader in Hwange. Among his accomplishments was being elected as the workers committee chairperson between 1979 and 1994. He was also a key leader of both the Associated Mineworkers’ Union of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions. He died on September 28, 2003.

Molokele’s mother, Jane Mpofu, was a career educator specialising in pre-school education. She has since retired and is now based in Bulawayo.

Politics runs in Molokele’s family.

Molokele’s parents were active local leaders for Zapu during his childhood years.

Molokele spent his childhood years at No 1 Colliery (Lwendulu village) and did his primary education at Ignatius, secondary schooling at Ingwenya Mission, Ntabazinduna, John Tallach and Fletcher High School.

In March 1995, he was admitted at the University of Zimbabwe (UZ)’s law faculty where he completed a Bachelor of Laws honours degree in May 1999.

He also holds a Masters in Human Rights Litigation degree from the University of South Africa. He has also commenced Masters in Business Administration (MBA) studies with the African Leadership University that is based at Kigali in Rwanda.

Molokele was a student leader between 1995 and 1999, holding the positions of secretary-general, vice-president and then finally as the president of the students representative council.

He was also involved in the national and international students’ politics. Specifically, he was elected vice-president of the Zimbabwe National Students Union from 1997 to 1999.
He also participated in different programmes and conferences of the Southern African Students Union from 1997 to 1999.

He was one of the prominent student leaders who were instrumental in the setting up of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) in 1997. He was also at the forefront in the setting up of MDC in 1999.

Unlike his peers, the late Learnmore Jongwe, Job Sikhala and Tafadzwa Musekiwa, among others, he opted not to be a Member of Parliament in 2000 and chose to work with the broader civil society movement initially in Zimbabwe before working in South Africa and Africa at large.

After his university years, Molokele relocated to Bulawayo where he initially worked as a legal practitioner at Ben Baron and Partners. He was soon lured to full time activism when he was appointed the NCA Bulawayo regional programme officer. Afterwards, he also worked as the Zimbabwe southern regional programme officer for the local chapter of Transparency International (TIZ).

From June 1999 to December 2003, Molokele was actively involved in the creation of various organisations such as the Christian Legal Society, Gospel Music Association and the Christian Leadership Forum and the Bulawayo Agenda, among others.

Molokele relocated from Bulawayo to Johannesburg in January 2004.

Prior to that, Molokele had changed his name from Fortune Mguni to Fortune Daniel Molokela-Tsiye in 2000, after a personal quest to reclaim his original family identity. His father’s family started using the Mguni surname after the death of his grandfather in the early 1970s. The process culminated in him being re-united with his father’s people, the Batsieng clan in Mahikeng, South Africa, in September 2004.

During his early years in South Africa, Molokele continued his activism and was actively involved with various organisations and platforms. These included the Peace and Democracy Project, Zimbabwe Diaspora CSOs Forum, Zimbabwe Diaspora Development Chamber and the Global Zimbabwe Forum (GZF). It was due to his active role at the GZF that he was seconded to set up its office at Geneva in Switzerland between May and December 2008.

Molokele has also been employed by various other organisations in South Africa over the years. These include, among others, Zimonline Media Trust, Doctors Without Borders, Southern Africa Editors Forum, the World Aids Campaign International, Southern Africa Regional Programme on Access to Medicines and Diagnostics and Aids Accountability International.

He was based in Cape Town, South Africa between May 2009 and April 2011 where he was instrumental in mobilising the Zimbabwean community there under the local chapter of the GZF.

In recent years, Molokele has been actively involved in such platforms as the Zimbabwe Diaspora Support Initiative, Learnmore and Rutendo Jongwe Memorial Trust, Friends of Nora Tapiwa, Highlanders FC Bosso South Africa branch and the southern Africa regional offices for the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition.

Molokele has also been actively involved with the local South Africa civil society. He has sat in the national boards for such organisations as Transparency International South Africa, Amnesty International South Africa, and MISA-South Africa. He has also been an active member of the South African Institute of International Affairs, Freedom of Expression Institute of South Africa and the Gender Media Network of Southern Africa.

Molokele has always regarded himself as a creative writer. He has over the years written several unpublished works and manuscripts ranging from biographies, fictional stories, poetry and movie scripts. Added to that, he has also written regularly in various media outlets in South Africa such as the Mail & Guardian and Zimonline. He has written personal column articles in such publications as Moto magazine, NewZimbabwe.com and The Zimbabwean.

The MDC spokesperson is an active Christian. In this regard, he has been also actively involved in the setting up of both the Johannesburg and Cape Town branches of the Victory Fellowship Church that is originally from Bulawayo. He has also been an active member of Every Nation Church at Rosebank, Johannesburg. He now attends the local Hwange branch of Victory Fellowship Church.

He is married to Samukeliso Dube and they have a daughter, Matilda-Jane, who was born on in 2006.

“In Hwange, we have tried two separate initiatives to improve people’s lives. We set up community-led companies focusing on daily commodities so they are different companies that are led by the community people. They are focusing on things like detergents, honey, pork, fish and things that one buys every day,” Molokele told NewsDay.

“We have also been engaging non-governmental organisations to come to Hwange. Fountain of Life Widows Network has responded and we have been encouraging ministries of small-to-medium enterprises, Women affairs and community affairs to work with us. We have worked well with the Women Empowerment Bank and just a week or two ago they trained over 300 women. They have a training concept for women who want to apply for loans.”

Molokele is the chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee for Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development.