1980 – Member of Parliament, ZANU PF, Manicaland.
1980 – Deputy Minister for Posts and Telecommunications, Zimbabwe.
Naomi Nhiwatiwa is a very articulate and vivacious woman who looks younger than her 39 years and is convinced that her father’s instructions o remember the parable of the ten talents and give back something of the blessings she has received, drives her forward as she takes up her task as one of the country’s first deputy ministers in the ZANU PF Government.
She was born in Umtali (Mutare) in 1941. Her parents were peasant farmers. Her father was “very open-minded and receptive to new ideas” and encouraged his daughter in her education. Her brother, Mishek, and her teachers Ben Kanyangara and his brother John at Inyazura Mission School, gave her “fantastic encouragement” and put personal and academic “water and fire” into her life’s aspirations.
Her parents were Seventh Day Adventists and so there was a very religious training at home. At Salusia S.D.A. School she met American teachers, admired them, especially Florence Moline, “a perfectionist”, and developed and ambition to see for herself what America was like.
After passing through school and a domestic science training course at Asher Institute near Plumtree, her ambition was realised when she left for Lincoln University in the USA in 1963. She had become very conscious of the nutritional needs of the children at home: “A Hungry person cannot learn” she remarks. Working hard she earned a Worthy Student award and she graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition three and a half years later. She moved on to Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, where she completed her Masters Degree in Developmental Psychology. At the University of New York she continued her studies for a further degree in Counselling Psychology and this required that the student had to have therapy as part of the course. Dr Naomi Nhiwatiwa believes that these therapy sessions over the five years she experienced them, were a very important part of her own self-development and gave her a new approach to her goals and her relationships with people.
She pursued her studies of a doctorate in Higher Education but switched to the Department of Communications and finally completed this Doctorate in August 1979.
Naomi’s political awareness was sharpened by the influence of two of her professors – Molife Asante and Cecil Blake who almost demanded from her a model solution to the problems of Zimbabwe. She took an active part also in student associations at the committee level.
“The painful process of receiving letters from home once the war was underway led me to campaign for material aid for my country. I wrote articles, demanded radio time to contradict Smith and kept close contact with the politicians arriving from home in the U.S.A. she said.
Near the end of her last year at Community College, New York University, she found herself as a professor and a departmental head in Social Science, “almost swallowed by the elite community. The temptation to join the moneyed elite and get established was outrageous,” she confesses.
Finally she made a decision, wrote to the Party and offered her full-time service to the ZANU PF Party. She knew that this could be a catastrophe because she would have to work for no pay, but coming back to her father’s words about the ten talents, she threw herself into the election campaign, won her seat in the Manicaland Province and was appointed Deputy Minister of Posts and Telecommunications in Zimbabwe.