The Sunday News
Khumbulani Vodloza Sibanda
Anti-Zanu-PF activists are predictably up in arms against the philanthropic work of First Lady, Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa, accusing her of interfering with Government operations and abusing State resources.
However, to those in the know, the First Lady’s humanitarian work did not start with her assumption of the country’s First Ladyship. Amai Mnangagwa has always dedicated part of her time and resources towards community development through raising awareness on various issues of community interest. Since the advent of the New Dispensation, she has continued, in fact upped her involvement in raising public awareness on various health issues, chief among them, the evolving threat of cervical cancer.
When Amai Mnangagwa was still the legislator for Chirumanzu-Zibagwe constituency, she initiated various income-generating projects. She worked with Prison Officers and their spouses in the constituency and beyond. Projects were established in Chiredzi, Gokwe and Hwahwa.
She further worked with various women’s local financial empowerment groups to establish local savings clubs through the popular “mukando” concept. Such clubs were established in Zhombe, Chirumanzu, Zibagwe, Mvuma Kwekwe and Silobela. Lives of ordinary citizens were changed and inspired.
Upon her assumption of the role of First Lady in November 2017, Amai Mnangagwa gave up her seat as Chirumanzu-Zibagwe legislator to focus on her role as a national mother figurehead. She proceeded to champion her humanitarian organisation — Angel of Hope Foundation in February 2018. She now had a platform to widen and implement her vision for empowering previously marginalised groups in society such as women and the girl child.
True to her now high status as First Lady, over $1 million was raised at the launch of the Foundation, with wife of Prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa, Ruth donating a whopping $300 000 towards her humanitarian work. President Mnangagwa donated $100 000. Since then the First Lady has dedicated massive resources towards empowering women and the girl child.
Amai Mnangagwa has made several donations to various organisations and individuals in fulfilment of her vision. She donated 50 laptops to Rufaro High School in Masvingo, over 100 HIV Early Infant Diagnosis machines in partnership with Diagnostics for the Real World (DRW), several tonnes of foodstuffs and clothing items for survivors of Cyclone Idai in Manicaland and Masvingo Provinces. Recently she built and handed over a fully-furnished house to 82-year-old Gogo Esnath Mapfuwamhandu in Mt Darwin who is looking after her orphaned 15 grandchildren, among several other donations.
The First Lady, after realising how widows, widowers and orphans were losing property upon the death of their spouses and parents, initiated a programme to educate them on their rights by bringing experts on inheritance issues who are equipping them with knowledge on legal matters. The programme has resulted in legal experts from the Ministry of Justice, the Law Society of Zimbabwe and the Master of the High Court addressing this constituency throughout the country educating women and children on their rights insofar inheritance issues are concerned. The programme has been well received by women who were faced with various legal challenges in accessing inheritance from their departed husbands.
The First Lady has also set up a 10-member Technical Committee of women lawyers to attend to legal issues affecting women and to proffer solutions in line with the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Such an approach lays a foundation for sustainable resolution of women and the girl child’s challenges, as opposed to dishing out freebies. The First Lady has also championed the elimination of child marriages.
Given the foregoing commitment to sustainable development of women and the girl child and the potential it has in mobilising people to support her and Government’s vision, known anti-Zanu-PF and Government activists are stung that they are raising spurious allegations that the First Lady is usurping Government functions and abusing State resources. These allegations are designed to invite citizens’ anger against the First Lady, given the prevailing temporary economic challenges.
MDC Spokesperson, Jacob Mafume recently likened Amai Mnangagwa to former First Lady, Grace Mugabe who openly ridiculed Government officials at Zanu-PF rallies. Grace Mugabe would openly call for the dismissal of Government officials at Zanu-PF rallies. Amai Mnangagwa has not interfered with any Government functions, nor has she received any funding for her humanitarian activities. Her private initiatives are only complementing Government efforts in raising awareness on health issues.
Amai Mnangagwa has defended her work, saying “I am not a Government employee. I have no powers over ministers, but I just help in my role as the First Lady to raise awareness on health issues. I also take care of their mothers and their supporters.” She urged them to move away from the election mode to concentrate on nation-building.
What can be deduced from the allegations is that these anti-Government activists do not want anything that works for the good of Zimbabweans or has potential to improve their livelihoods. They have based their politics on the suffering of Zimbabweans and, as such, anything that shows potential to improve peoples’ livelihoods poses a threat to their political ambitions. They are bound to condemn it, inasmuch as they are condemning efforts by President Mnangagwa to lay a new foundation for the Zimbabwean economy.
Attacks against the First Lady should be understood in the context of MDC politics of opposing anything done by Zanu-PF or any of its related parties. That brand of politics has since been discarded by majority of Zimbabweans who are proudly associating with the First Lady’s projects. Ordinary citizens who benefited from the projects do not care about the opposition politicking, but are concerned with the positive impact on their lives. To people like Gogo Mapfuwamhandu, no amount of mudslinging will take away the good house she received from the First Lady. She can only sing praises for the life-changing intervention.