You Must Know Them: Janet Zhou.

You Must Know Them

17 October 2020

Nyari Mashayamombe- Editor in Chief

In this interview, Identities Media (IM) introduces Janet Zhou (JZ) who wants to be remembered for having given all that she has within her for this earth, to be for us all. Enjoy!

Janet Zhou

IM: Tell us about yourself.

JZ: My name is Janet Zhou, I am 39 years old and the current Executive Director with the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD)- a leading social and economic justice coalition in Zimbabwe and in the region. I have over 10 years experience in the civil society sector in Zimbabwe. I have served in different capacities in the sector which has continued to nourish my passion for a just and equal society. 

I have worked in communities to stimulate citizens agency in social and economic governance issues, in programme management spearheading advocacy and campaigns for people centred economic policies and at strategic levels where I present all the evidence I am able to gather from people’s lived experiences, community experiences and challenge leadership to respect humanity, human dignity, human rights and decent livelihoods for those further away from the different centres of power presenting at different levels.

I am also the Secretary General of the Southern Africa People Solidarity Network ( SAPSN). This is a Network of social movements in the SADC region engaged with reclaiming the state centric SADC regional bloc for people’s development.

At the SAPSN we provide platforms for social movements in the 16 SADC countries for people to people solidarity in the struggles for political, socioeconomic, gender, climate, and environmental justice among other human degrading issues.

I am honored to have been part of a number of illuminating citizens initiatives that keep solution holders, duty bearers and powers that be on their toes in terms of  accountability, transparency and rights respecting economies at the  local, national, SADC and Pan African levels. 

I would want to be remembered for having given all that I have within me for this earth to be for us all. I want to be known for having raised many other courageous men and women who are never comfortable in their own bubbles but seek to continue with the quest for Ubuntu.  I am because you are, You are because I am!

You Must Know Them

IM: What drives the work that you do?

JZ: I wake up every morning because as long as I have another breathe and the privilege for another day it means the purpose is not yet accomplished.  I am still aware that we are still far away from being a society where we all have equal opportunities to live dignified lives.

There is still a girl who does not have water to wash her hands, who cannot have sanitary wear,  a college graduate to be productively employed, a woman dying in maternity ward, a family that can be washed away by a Cyclone, girls who cannot go to school, so much poverty, unprecedented inequality levels etc and someone has to wake up and speak to power on actions and  policies that are contributing to all this and that someone is me. 

I simply want to see every person living to their full potential and not be limited by barriers set by society and how they have been defined by the political- economic system. I am all for a  just society that has people with their voices and using those voices to change their circumstances and usher in transformative development.

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IM: What do you see in the near future?

JZ: I am persuaded to continue to disrupt the comfort of leadership, to be a more apt policy advocate as an individual and within my community of practice.

For Zimbabwe- I still hold on the truthful fact that we shall emerge one day as a democratic developmental state. The different parts of this nation shall find one another glue together in the embodiment of Ubuntu.

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IM: What are your parting words or advice?

I would like to urge all Zimbabweans to be willing to act against exclusion and marginalisation of others in development. Let us act together to end poverty, injustices and for human dignity.

In the face of the challenges we face may we not turn in on each other but help each other to rise above the binary narratives we have been accustomed to and focus on the livelihoods  that are likely to benefit from a social contract that can  bind our society.

Let us continue to challenge the use of the 17th “official” language called Violence as we build a better and prosperous Zimbabwe for all. 

Nyari Mashayamombe

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