Misihairabwi-Mushonga Suffers Clinical Depression

FORMER Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) secretary general, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, has been diagnosed with clinical depression for which she is under medication, the outspoken legislator revealed to the this week.MUSHONGA WEB

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This comes in the wake of reports that a few weeks ago party president, Welshman Ncube, whom Misihairabwi-Mushonga had confided in, might have let the cat out of the bag by revealing her condition in one of the meetings of the MDC standing committee. Ncube has, however, strenuously denied being the source of the leak.

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This development has, however, led to Misihairabwi-Mushonga opening up about her condition in an interview with the Financial Gazette, breaking her silence for the first time since she was diagnosed with clinical depression a few years ago.

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“It is not a dark secret. It is true that I was diagnosed with clinical depression and a panic disorder for which I am under medication. This is common in people who have gone through trauma. I went through trauma; I went through many things including that whole process of inheritance battles when my husband died,” said the former minister of regional integration and international co-operation.

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Depression can happen to anyone even to people who seem to have it all. It ranges in seriousness from mild to temporary episodes of sadness. Clinical depression is the more severe form of depression. It is a mental disorder affecting how one thinks, feels and behaves and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. It may also make one harbour feelings of worthlessness. Clinical depression can, however, improve with psychological counselling, anti-depressants or a combination of both.

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Misihairabwi-Mushonga was widowed in 2009 after her husband Christopher Mushonga died of injuries sustained from a botched robbery.

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Following the tragic loss, her late husband’s children petitioned the Master of the High Court to determine the inheritance of his estate following reports he left   two wills. They alleged the second had been tampered with.

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A battle ensued. After an initial spirited fight Misihairabwi-Mushonga ceded the Mount Pleasant home the couple had lived in as well as a flat and funds in the couple’s joint accounts. She also gave up cars, clothes, houses and household property, among other things.

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She has also gone through countless trials and tribulations on the political front.But perhaps one the most tumultuous period for her was when after she became the legislator for Matabeleland South, there was resistance from the constituency and beyond, with party members accusing the MDC leadership of foisting her on them.

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The matter snowballed resulting in bad blood in the party which claimed the scalp of at least two members who were expelled over voicing the protest against the leadership.

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The most recent battles relate to accusations that she was working to undermine Ncube in the run-up to the merging of the party with the MDC Renewal Team.
\nThe accusations were that, as one of the negotiators in the unification talks, she was pushing for herself to be secretary general of the United MDC at the expense of Ncube being president of the outfit.

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These fights have taken a toll on the politician.

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“If indeed he (Ncube) said it, then he must have had a reason to discuss that. It is true I have that condition, and Prof (Professor Ncube) would know because as someone I have worked very closely with and has been my adviser for over 30 years, I confided in him. But for Prof to say that at a meeting, if he did, he must have had a good reason to mention it,” Misihairabwi-Mushonga said.

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This week, Ncube said suggestions that he might have leaked the information at a meeting of the MDC standing committee were a result of fabrication.

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“It’s bullsh*t. If people have nothing to gossip about they should go to hell. Am I a doctor to say so and so is suffering from what. It is insulting to even be asked that,” Ncube said.

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“I have never said anything about her in any space. There can be no meeting about her; she left the party ages ago.”
\nDetermined to win against the diagnosed depression, Misihairabwi-Mushonga said the problem was that people did not want to discuss issues of mental health because of the stigma attached to the condition.

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“We should talk about it. There are many people, including women and widows here in Zimbabwe that are similarly affected. It is nothing to hide. It is treatable. I am more worried about whether or not affected people are seeking treatment,” she said.

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Misihairabwi-Mushonga, a vibrant politician, considered one of the most powerful female politicians in the country, quit her position as secretary general in the MDC in February citing unrelenting pressures which were bearing hard on her from a number of quarters particularly within her party.

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Ncube and Misihairabwi-Mushonga have worked closely together for decades.

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Their collaboration and support of each other most vividly showed when as two of the most vital cogs of the MDC, they stuck together when their outfit broke away from the main MDC party.

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As a negotiator on behalf of the party during the global political agreement, Misihairabwi-Mushonga proved her mettle as an able and trusted plenipotentiary of the MDC, one whom over the years Ncube had come to depend on.
\nAlthough she has resigned from the secretary general position, Misihairabwi-Mushonga has continued in her capacity as Matabeleland South Member of Parliament on a proportional representation ticket.

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A firebrand activist who has sought to fight social injustices including gender disparities wherever she has encountered them, Misihairabwi-Mushonga became a socio-political activist in the 90s as a youthful and energetic force raring to go.

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Influential in founding a number of non-governmental organisations for various causes, Misihairabwi-Mushonga also jumped on the MDC bandwagon in its initial stages and fought in the trenches in the main movement before splitting alongside Ncube and others in 2005, the very first splinter from Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC-T.

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Apparently a number of high profile people have suffered or are suffering depression globally. Democratic Representative Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island, United States, spoke openly about his depressive disorder. So did Princess of Wales, Lady Diana. Celebrities such as Catherine Zeta Jones, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ashley Judd, among a host of others have battled depression.

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Although it has not been common for public figures to come out in the open about depression in this country there are others who have come out with other health conditions. MDC-T vice president, Thokozani Khupe, a few years ago came out publicly about her affliction with cancer. So did the late popular musician Tongai Moyo. Others have also come out with other diseases.