She is one of the 30 women to have won Parliamentary seats in the May 20 Tripartite Elections. She comes from a background of luxury as former first lady, but now MP for Balaka West. At 49, she has a place in Malawi’s history as the estranged wife to former president Bakili Muluzi, Malawi’s first democratic leader of the United Democratic Front (UDF). Rebecca Chimjeka speaks to Shanil Dzimbiri, formerly known as Patricia Shanil Muluzi on her political journey to Parliament.
Tell me about yourself.
I am Patricia Shanil Nadzimbiri, 49 years old and the seventh born in my family. I come from Chimpikizo Village, Traditional Authority (T/A) Chamthunya, Balaka. I am a teacher by profession
How was your upbringing?
I had a very good upbringing; my parents were very strict and loving as well as disciplinarians. My parents always stressed one point that everyone is equal to each other. I am a staunch Catholic member.
When did you develop interest in politics?
It is not a long-time ago that I decided to venture into politics. Just last year, it was when politics crossed my mind. I never liked politics even when I was a first lady, the time I was at state house. I remember telling my then husband that, joining politics was not my priority.
Some people would deem your decision to join politics as a demotion having been a first lady. What is your take on this?
What do you mean? In fact I am feeling that I have been promoted. Is being first lady a career? Who said that? I would not even encourage young ones to think that being a first lady is a career. Being first lady is just as well as being a house wife. I wonder why people think that my being a Member of Parliament is a demotion. Is it because I am a woman? Take for instance, people like former vice-president Khumbo Kachali, who is now a Member of Parliament. Can you tell me that this is a demotion? I don’t really care what people will always say about me. I thank God for the promotion.
What exactly do you intend to bring on the political stage?
I would like to work together with the councilor in my area to make sure that we make a difference in the constituency. I will make sure to look at the needs of the people from Balaka West. There are a lot of challenges that need to be addressed. The first thing I would like to see is that people have clean water and that a government hospital is constructed. I will help in passing of laws that shall make our country heaven on earth.
Your former husband, Dr. Bakili Muluzi, is a member of the UDF. How did you decide to contest as an independent?
I decided to contest as an independent because I wanted to represent every one. It is because I don’t want anybody to feel sidelined
Tell me briefly about your life as first lady.
I enjoyed my life as I played the role of first lady to the fullest. I learnt a lot and, through the Freedom Foundation, I was able to help a lot of needy people.When I was the first lady I was able to intaract with people at all levels
What exactly have you been doing before contesting for the parliamentary seat?
I was just running my small businesses.
What are your political plans apart from contesting as MP?
Nothing much as of now, I will just concentrate on my constituency
What is your advice to women whofailed to make it to Parliament and women in general?
My advice to women who did not make it toParliament and to local councils is they should go for a second chance, because there is always a second chance in life. This is all possible if they believe I God. No matter how long it may take, God will make a way even where there is no way.
Any last words
I will be happy if society can change its mind set towards women. In the coming general elections in 2019, people should make sure to vote for more women in Parliament and local councils.