Welcome to Margaret Dongo’s official website!
Dongo is a distinguished Zimbabwean politician, former parliamentarian, human rights activist, social commentator, and former freedom fighter. She served as an elected MP in the Parliament of Zimbabwe from 1990 to 2000. Dongo holds a Masters in Public Policy from Harvard University. She lives in Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital, with her family.
Dongo has spend much of her life breaking barriers for women and the marginalized.
In 1975, at the age of 15, she skipped secondary school and journeyed on foot to neighboring Mozambique to join guerrillas fighting to liberate Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia), from colonial rule.
After independence in 1980, Dongo worked for the new majority government led by Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF in various capacities.
Dongo was first election to Parliament on a ruling Zanu PF ticket in 1990. She distinguished herself as an authoritative uncompromising voice for good governance, transparency, accountability, democracy, and the rule of law. She fearlessly challenged Zanu PF’s corrupt rule. This led to her fallout with the party leadership.
As the 1995 general elections approached, the Zanu PF leadership plotted to prevent Dongo from being re-elected. They refused to endorse her candidacy for the Harare South constituency. Unbowed, Dongo, contested as an independent candidate. The party rigged the election against her and she lost.
Dongo successfully challenged the results in the High Court of Zimbabwe, forcing a re-run. She won the re-run, becoming the first Independent MP in post-independence Zimbabwe. She served until 2000.
In Parliament, as one of only three opposition MPs, Dongo continued to advocate for the rule of law, and speak for marginalized Zimbabweans. Outside Parliament, she supported numerous pro-democracy activists and movements. She helped numerous individuals contesting Zanu PF as independent candidates. She mentored or inspired numerous individuals now elected to parliament on the opposition ticket.
In 1998, Dongo and leading pro-democracy activists formed a new party, the Zimbabwe Union of Democrats (ZUD). She was elected as the party’s founding president.
Since leaving political office in 2000, Dongo has supported various progressive grassroots initiatives.
In 2006, Dongo challenged a discriminatory section of Zimbabwe’s Guardianship of Minors Act in the Supreme Court. Section 23  deemed that a woman married under customary law held no legal guardianship over her children. For example, she couldn’t legally sign forms to assist a minor child to obtain a passport.
In June 2010, the Supreme Court delivered its verdict on the case, now known as Margaret Dongo vs. Registrar General of Zimbabwe. It ruled that the mother of a minor child can legally assist a child to obtain a passport. The Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association, which teamed up with Dongo as part of its advocacy strategy, summarizes the court’s judgement this way:
They (women) CAN now apply for passports for their children without having to resort to unwilling or unavailable fathers. This is no small victory as many women, whose memories of their experiences in this regard still cause them to grow goose bumps can testify. The beast of gender discrimination has not been slain but it has been muzzled. It cannot bite any longer.
Dongo has been affiliated with numerous international organizations. She has addressed numerous conferences around the world.
- Please visit Margaret Dongo’s detailed bio to learn more.