Olivia Muchena

"A true role model for young aspiring female politicians"

Olivia Muchena

Born Olivia Nyembezi Muchena on the 18th of August 1946 in Mutoko. Wife to Tobias Muchena. She is a member of the Zanu-Pf and former Minister of Higher Education in the Cabinet of Zimbabwe. She also served as the Minister of Science and Technology Development and as the Minister of Women’s Affairs a true role model for young aspiring female politicians.

Muchena studied at Iowa State University and graduated with a PhD in agriculture and minored in Social change and Technology. During the late 1970s she was a faculty member at the University of Rhodesia. In 1983 Dr. Muchena held the positions of Deputy Dean and Senior Lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe. Her position as Deputy Dean ended in 1985 and she remained as a lecturer until 1995.
In 1997 she was appointed Deputy Minister of Lands and Agriculture, she held the post until 2001. She rose to the ranks of Minister of Science and Technology Development in 2003.

Dr. Muchena has served in various positions in the Zimbabwean government. During her position in the Ministry of Agriculture she was involved in Zimbabwe’s land reform process. On February 13 2009 Muchena was sworn in as the Minister of Women’s Affairs up to 2013. In 2009 she was also a member of the Constitutional Select Committee (COPAC) that was charged with drafting a new Constitution.
In June of 2015 she lost her seat in the Senate of Zimbabwe after the Zanu- PF ousted her out for supporting Joice Mujuru who was formerly the Vice President.

Muchena contributed the piece “It can only be handled by women” to the 1984 anthology Sisterhood is global: the international women’s movement anthology. She has received multiple awards including a scholarship from the Africa-America Institute and a Fellowship from Kellogg international. She is a pastor in the United Methodist Church. Personally I think she is one of the many women that debunk the stereotype that women are the weaker sex. She is one of the epitome of a strong and emancipated woman.

Positions held by Muchena

  • 1971 Director at Sakubva Community Centre
  • 1972 General Secretary at Young Women’s Christian Association
  • 1977 Research Officer at the School of Social Work
  • 1978 Research Fellow at the Centre for Applied Social Science, Women Development Unit
  • 1981-1982 Research Fellow in the Department of Adult Education
  • 1983 -1995 Senior Agriculture, Economics and Extension Lecture at University of Zimbabwe
  • Deputy Dean in the Faculty of Education at the University of Zimbabwe
  • Zanu- Pf Women’s League Political Commissar


Educational background


  • Diploma in Adult Education from the University of Edinburgh
  • Bachelor of Arts from the University College of Rhodesia
  • Doctor of Philosophy from University of Iowa, USA