Tendai Rupapa and Patrick Chitumba
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa has acknowledged the role played by First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa in cultivating unity, peace and love across the country through her various educative and socially constructive programmes.
Addressing thousands of people at a congratulatory party organised by the Midlands Province in honour of the First Lady’s achievements in Mapanzure Village, Zvishavane yesterday, President Mnangagwa said he fully supports her work and appreciates that she has a gift to serve the nation through charity.
The party sought to celebrate Dr Mnangagwa’s achievements after she was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy Degree by GD Goenka University in India, a Doctor of Philosophy from Russia State University for the Humanities and a Doctor of Philosophy in Development Studies from Zimbabwe Open University (ZOU).
She also received a global humanitarian award from Russia’s “#We are together” initiative and a Gold Medal from Crimean Federal University of Russia in recognition of her contribution to the education sector through her Angel of Hope Foundation.
The celebration party was huge and brought together people from all walks of life, including the clergy, businesspeople, Government ministers and ordinary people.
A delegation from the First Lady’s home province of Mashonaland Central was also present.
The First Lady was showered with gifts in appreciation of her life-transforming initiatives at the colourful ceremony, which was punctuated by song and dance.
In his remarks, President Mnangagwa thanked the people of the Midlands Province for coming out in large numbers.
“Today we have not gathered for our party Zanu-PF. Word reached us from the Midlands Province inviting me and my dear wife, the First Lady, saying they had arranged a feast to thank the First Lady for uplifting the country through her work.
“I said to them have you copied Mashonaland Central, which did the congratulatory celebrations first, but they said no. Cde Larry Mavima, the Minister of State said he had started planning these celebrations, but Mashonaland Central led by Cde Kazembe Kazembe stole his idea and ran with it,” the President said in jest.
He said he was gratified by the huge turnout of people who thronged Lundi Primary School for the special occasion.
“I want to talk about my in-laws vekwaNegomo where your daughter-in-law came from which is a house of chieftainship. Chief Negomo has come with his family. When I went there I was received well and I welcome you all. Your daughter came from a chieftainship family and was married into a similar family in Mapanzure. Her history was foretold when she was young and I knew she had this gift of helping people. When she started a few years back I was not baffled,” said President Mnangagwa.
The President spoke on the need to follow the country’s cultural norms and values, just as the First Lady does.
“Long back if you had a traditional name, the whites would give you an English one because they looked down upon what our ancestors gave us. You can never succeed with other people’s heritage. A country progresses through its norms and values. Each country develops through its culture which works there. Our ways as Africans work in African nations. Amai, the First Lady goes around the country with her programmes for youths, urging them not to take mutoriro or smoke intoxicating substances through her Gota/Nhanga/Ixhiba programme as she teaches children good morals and the need to respect their culture and heritage,” he said.
President Mnangagwa said the First Lady’s travels had also influenced development in the areas she visits. “Wherever she goes people form their clubs and carry forward the programmes she would have initiated. She would go to Kanyemba and come to share with us what she would have encountered and plead with me to look into the areas she would have highlighted. When she first went to Kanyemba, she told me lots of stories and I quickly sent my ministers to look into the issues.
“I am happy to announce that there are good roads connecting to Kanyemba. We are building schools and clinics there. We agreed to make it a smart city. All this is through the First Lady’s hard work.
“She also went to Plumtree and is always frequenting there meeting the San community, she also comes back and tells me what she would have seen and we rush there, now they are developing. They now have projects that they are doing which she initiated. The San had lost their chieftainship but we gave it back to them. I can go on and on.
“She has received awards and honorary doctorates from different countries. India gave her, Russia did the same. When she came back, Zimbabwe Open University (ZOU) looked at her work and gave her an honorary doctorate. That was the first university in Zimbabwe to recognise her,” he said.
The President said on Saturday, the First Lady was in Chivi helping the underprivileged and empowering women farmers.
He commended the Midlands Province for gathering the people, a gesture he said was a clear indication that they love the First Lady who is their daughter-in-law and mother of the nation.
“You have done me proud. Bishop Mutendi spoke about how the First Lady travels promoting peace, culture across the country and how in the olden days boys and girls were raised, bringing peace and harmony in the family, community and nation. Wherever she goes she does not select, she helps and embraces everyone. She says come and let’s plan how to run our homes to foster peace.
“The Bishop also came with a good idea and said we must fast as a country. I am grateful for this vision to fast for our country. We are a Christian country so if we say as a nation let us fast, people will not be surprised. Therefore, I will sit down with bishops and plan for this as we start the new year.
“All you are seeing here today, nothing came from the Government. It all came from the Midlands Province and friends of the province. I am thankful to those who chipped in to make this event successful. Everyone who came here will leave with a Christmas hamper, and will have a sumptuous meal. Nyama izere pano muchaita yekudambura, tirivayera Shumba ka isu. No one will go hungry. We want you to remember that when we celebrated Amai’s achievements, this is what our father did for us in her honour,” he said.
The First Lady was at a loss for words.
“As I stand before you, I do not have a lot to say but wish to acknowledge that you have come out in your numbers to congratulate me. I was married in the Midlands Province. I am gratified that people from my home province of Mashonaland Central have escorted me here,” she said.
At this point, the mother of the nation invited her sisters to come forward and greet the gathering the way they do in Mashonaland Central as daughters-in-law and they burst into the song “Toitei naShumba vane rudo”.
The First Lady had words of advice for women countrywide.
“Those from Negomo, when I was married here I came to be an in-law of all since the Midlands is one family. Where I go wrong please advise accordingly because I am your daughter-in-law. To all the women, when married let us unite families and when wronged learn to forgive. I encourage that wherever I go women take the teachings forward. Be dependable women, teachers, unifiers, approachable women who welcome visitors. “Look at the challenges before us where our children are ruined by drugs, they dress badly and have lost dignity. As mothers we now face a battle to correct and mould our children so that we have less challenges in the country. Let us not look down upon each other through gossip and jealousy,” she said.
Amai Mnangagwa spoke of the need to curb domestic violence through couples working together for the good of the family.
“Let us help our husbands in looking after our children in peace without domestic violence. If there is someone being beaten in the home, be it a man or a woman, report to the police because we say no to violence.
“When I am with you I do not want to be referred to as the First Lady because this alienates me from you yet I want to be closer as we teach one another because I do not know it all. When I am with you ndiri mai, mwana, mbuya or tete.
“To Baba, my dear husband, I thank you for the support you give me, always allowing me to traverse the country performing my duties across the nation. My husband is a soft person and I respect him. I also urge all women here to respect their husbands in the homes,” she said.
Midlands Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Larry Mavima described the First Lady as a blessing to the Midlands Province.
“We are blessed as the Midlands to have a daughter-in-law who fears God and is hard working. A daughter-in-law who helps the needy. The Bible says blessed is the hand that giveth than the one that taketh, therefore our mother gives and has love. We thank you for your great work and congratulate you for your achievements,” he said.
Chief Mapanzure, said on behalf of all those of the Shumba totem, he welcomed the delegation from Mashonaland Central Province.
“It is said if you raise a girl child, you raise a nation. Our in-laws raised their daughter well. He who gets a good wife, gets riches and a good wife comes from God. We are thankful because a woman who uplifts your name across the nations is good. We are thankful ana tezvara you gave us a good wife, who is well-mannered and we are thankful for the great work she is doing countrywide,” he said.
Local Government and Public Works Minister July Moyo delivered his congratulatory message on behalf of Zanu PF saying the First Lady had love for all the country’s citizens. “When Amai pays visits, she does so for all her children, she does not select. As Zanu PF we have come to thank her for all the work that she is doing countrywide and to congratulate her for all her achievements. She never sits down as she goes around the country implementing various programmes.
“Today we honour her works. It requires a whole day to chronicle all her work. This shows it is something in-born because she is a hardworking woman. As Zanu-PF we are gratified that we have a mother who has a history of hard work. We are proud of her because she is not selective, she embraces all her children and does her work from the heart. She does not pretend. Amai, from Kanyemba to Plumtree, there is no place you do not reach and we have seen you visiting some areas that were virtually unknown. The First Lady is a Politburo member who rose through the ranks which shows that she did not just wake up with a lofty position. She worked hard to earn that position. As the Midlands we are thankful for the work she does that benefits the whole nation,” he said.
Representing traditional chiefs in the Midlands Province, provincial Council of Chiefs leader Senator Chief Ngungumbane said he was proud of the work the First Lady was doing.
“As chiefs we see the work you are doing. Most people speak of the good that people do after their demise, but we do this while she is alive. We have walked with you in many places and we are happy that you attach importance to our culture.
As chiefs, let us support her work of bringing back our culture through teaching our children. You are fighting drug abuse among our children and we are grateful for this. We also want to thank the President for allowing her to go around the country serving the nation,” he said.
Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development Professor Amon Murwira echoed similar sentiments.
“There are four things that define a nation. Firstly, it’s who are you? What do you have to do with your heritage? What do you know and if you know, what can you do? If you know all this, you would have removed a colonised mind. The work the First Lady does reminds us of our heritage and who we are. She was awarded doctorates in different countries through her work which reminds us of where we came from, our culture. People now know where the country is coming from and where it is going. Amai thank you for pushing Heritage Education 5.0,” he said.
Zion Christian Church Leader Bishop Nehemiah Mutendi described the First Lady as a servant of the needy.
“She does great work in our country, Zimbabwe. I want to thank the organisers of this programme because she surely deserves this kind of honour. God rejoices seeing disadvantaged people being helped like what Amai is doing. Our mother of the nation unites this nation; she unites all citizens. She is not doing this as a First Lady, she was born God-fearing and it is inherent in her. She always talks about love and peace.
“On that note, let us maintain peace in the country and shun hate speech ahead of elections this year. Amai you are the true definition of ‘behind a successful man there is a woman’. We thank you for being a light of revelation,” he said, before reading Mathew 5 vs 16.
Everyone received a hamper that comprised maize-meal, juice, sugar, cooking oil, flour, rice and washing soap, courtesy of President Mnangagwa.