The Sunday News
Tendai Rupapa, Harare Bureau
SONG and dance spiced up the reunion yesterday when empowerment champion, First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa, visited her former Chirumhanzu-Zibagwe constituency where she initiated countless life-changing empowerment projects that have positively impacted the community.
The projects she initiated 10 years ago, are still thriving, while some have expanded, providing employment for locals and high returns for the owners.
Some of the projects like mukando or fushayi (micro-lending and savings scheme) has transformed the lives of thousands of women in the constituency who are living a good life through using their hands.
Dr Mnangagwa, who has a passion for girls and women advancement, remains part of the mukando projects to inspire other women.
Leadership from other provinces also came in full force to support, see, learn and take lessons back to their areas.
The women yesterday gathered at Mvuma Stadium for their end of year sharing and Dr Mnangagwa had her own share.
They showcased cars, kombis, house furniture, groceries, sets of pots, blankets and kitchen utensils among many other things which they bought.
One may be forgiven for thinking that Mvuma Stadium had been turned into a car sale or market place as the women showcased what they achieved.
Amai Mnangagwa was told that even men were now joining mukando.
Mukando also gave birth to various income-generating projects like construction, hairdressing, detergents-making, carpentry, mining, farming, borehole-drilling, flea markets to name a few.
A graduate of the Zimbabwe Open University through its partnership with the First Lady’s Angel of Hope Foundation was also grateful to the First Lady after she founded a crèche last year, which is now successful.
The First Lady was upbeat and said she was impressed by what she had seen.
She also held an interactive session with those in attendance, espousing the values of hard work and denouncing drug abuse, among many other social ills.
“I greet you all the Chirumhanzu-Zibagwe community. We stayed together since 2008 when the President was still an MP and as his spouse we started our programmes as women in 2013. I am happy when we meet as women like this,” said Dr Mnangagwa.
She thanked the province for voting President Mnangagwa back into office so that he completes the work he started.
She also spoke about unity and warned people against hatred.
“Elections came and went, so we need to unite and do away with hatred. Let us love one another as one family. Today, I have come to see what we started in 2013. You kept holding on to what I taught you. I thank you verily, especially for embracing my culture of hard work. I never opted out and remain part and parcel of you. I am thankful to those who came from other provinces to learn because we shall also look forward to being invited to your home provinces. I value the work of women and men as they raise their families,” she said.
Dr Mnangagwa spoke about the challenge of drug abuse.
“Our children are being affected by drugs and this bids on parents to keep counselling them and work with them in projects so as to empower them. Women, let us keep focused and work hard. I was gratified to see young girls being involved in mukando and today they now own cars and various things. Among us there are widows, you are now the heads of households and I urge you to work hard to support the children. We say no to women who are involved in prostitution who do not want to work with their hands. As a woman you are a moulder and a builder. So as couples, are you working together, is the love still there?” she asked.
In response, Mr Mapiye Makanda said all was well in his home.
“The woman defines the home zvinonzi musha mukadzi. I love my wife and have never beaten her. We communicate in the home and if we wrong one another, we address the challenge peacefully,” she said.
Mrs Abigail Makanda said she worked harmoniously with her husband.
“I am deeply in love with my husband. We started mukando when we had virtually nothing and my husband encouraged me,” she said.
The mother of the nation implored couples to live in peace and harmony.
She encouraged those from other provinces to copy the good work they had seen in Chirumanzu-Zibagwe.
The mother of the nation donated 30 tonnes of mealie-meal, sorghum and cowpeas seeds.
Vaireti Juru thanked the First Lady for her vision which she said was now paying off for multitudes of people.
“Amai, this is the work you started in 2013 before you even became an MP and you empowered us. You gave us knowledge and started mukando for us. We started putting money together and you advised us to buy cattle and goats for one another. From there you urged us to acquire residential stands which we did and tiled our houses. Those who were involved in the projects through your vision are now landlords, we drilled boreholes at our homes. We kept doing that and we bought one another vehicles, kombis, peanut butter machines, blankets, kitchen utensils, and many others. Amai to motivate us, you never exited our groups and you keep working with us and today you will receive your share. We kept your word that even if you are successful, you do not rule over your husband, but you remain submissive,” she said.
Earlier, Dr Mnangagwa toured various stands chatting with various groups and viewing what they had on display as a result of mukando.
Those who bought cars and kombis showed them to the mother of the nation.
Mrs Musara said: “Amai, we are women from here who are buying each other cars through mukando which you initiated. We have many groups as we pool money together. We are now into buying and selling as well.
“We use these cars and kombis to transport our goods that we sell so that communities get the stuff nearby.”
Those who are into borehole drilling also shared their story.
“We saw it necessary to follow your advice Amai. We started by buying and selling goats. We later decided to drill boreholes for one another. We spent the year putting our money together and managed to drill eight boreholes. We also did the Pfumvudza farming method and sold our produce which enabled us to buy tank stands, water tanks and solar panels,” the women said to the mother of the nation, who congratulated them for working hard.
Dr Mnangagwa was charmed by the lady who started a crèche after graduating through her partnership with ZOU.
“I said madzimai, let us go to school . . . it has nothing to do with age, isn’t it so? Now look at how you have empowered yourself. Keep working hard to progress and work together. Look how happy the children are today. Thank you so much,” she said.
Mrs Yeukai Ndiho sang praises to the First Lady for lifting her from poverty.
“I thank the First Lady who made us take courses. I chose Early Childhood Development and graduated. I managed to open my pre-school on January 4, last year. I thank the First Lady for lifting me. My crèche has 43 children and I thank our mother for empowering us as women,” she said.
Midlands Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Owen Ncube said: “It is a distinct honour and privilege as I heartily welcome our inspirational and transformative guest of honour, Her Excellency, the First Lady of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa to this auspicious occasion of commissioning Mvuma Hospital waiting mothers shelter and the interactive meeting with women’s clubs. Your Excellency, allow me to congratulate you for successfully hosting other African First Ladies on the sidelines of ICASA conference. Your sterling efforts as health and tourism ambassador are beneficial to Zimbabwe and Africa as your esteemed guests clearly expressed their desire to introduce traditional dishes in their home countries and to visit Zimbabwe again,” he said.
Minister Ncube praised Dr Mnangagwa for her many programmes including the national career guidance programme, which seeks to guide children in their search for career paths.
Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Barbara Rwodzi, who is also Chirumhanzu legislator, said she was glad the constituency had developed through the First Lady’s interventions since 2013.
“Amai, you worked here with women showing them the best practices. Your return here reminds us and gives us the need to remain united and continue working hard. The greatest thing you have done Your Excellency, is the economic empowerment of women here. I wish to advise you that there are men who have also entered the mukando,” she said.
She added: “There are also youths here whom we have taught the work that you taught us. They were charmed by the work being done by women. You took your work to churches Amai and the seed that you planted in us that if you do not know God, you are not a complete woman. You get so deep whenever you address us as female legislators that we should go and teach girls in our constituencies that every woman must make money with her hands but you always say the money we make must build our families.”
Minister Rwodzi thanked the First Lady for her uniting abilities.
Evangelist Nelly Gwatidzo also took time to talk of the empowerment projects that are being spearheaded by the First Lady.