In spite of her marriage, Sally Mugabe maintained her own identity as a political activist and campaigner. A trained teacher, she refused to opt for a quiet life and by 1962 she was mobilising African women to challenge Ian Smith’s racist Rhodesian constitution and was jailed for it. However, she never forgot during the long years of guerilla struggle for Zimbabwe that women were waging a double battle, first against colonialism but also against male domination in African societies.
On becoming Zimbabwe’s first lady in 1980 she served as Deputy Secretary and later Secretary of the ZANU Women’s League. She was founder and president of the Zimbabwe Child Survival Movement and president of the Leper Society in Zimbabwe. She was involved in picking up the pieces after the liberation war, looking after the needs of war orphans, disabled fighters and women’s development projects. She also launched the Zimbabwe Women’s Cooperative in the UK in 1986 and supported Akina Mama wa Africa, a London based African women’s organisation concerned with development and women’s issues in Africa and the UK.
Sally Mugabe died in 1992 of kidney problems.