First Lady goes to the grassroots

Takunda Maodza recently in Windhoek, Namibia
First Lady Cde Auxillia Mnangagwa says her countrywide engagements with Zimbabweans helped her gain an in-depth appreciation of problems at grassroots level, allowing her to communicate them cogently to the responsible authorities.

She said this in a speech read on her behalf by Sport, Arts and Recreation Minister Kazembe Kazembe on Friday during a Spousal Programme held on the sidelines of the 38th Ordinary Sadc Summit in Windhoek, Namibia.

“These engagements and interactions have helped me to gain an in-depth appreciation of the magnitude of the problems at grass-roots level that were presented with the sincere hope that I would not only provide the much needed advocacy, but also the additional voice to find solutions” she said.

The First Lady, who could not because of pressing demands at home, outlined some of the challenges.
“These problems include but are not limited to: Lack of knowledge and skills for employment creation by youths, financial exclusion for youths, inadequate infrastructure for skills training, sport, arts, culture and recreation, limited adolescent sexual reproductive health services and facilities, teenage pregnancies, early marriages, and gender based violence,” she said.

Cde Mnangagwa said she had engaged the relevant offices to come up with programmes to improve people’s standards of living.
“I have met with health professionals, students, farmers, rural and urban communities, the old and the young to mention but a few.

These engagements and interactions have helped me to gain an in-depth appreciation of the magnitude of the problems at grassroots level that were presented with the sincere hope that I would not only provide the much needed advocacy, but also the additional voice to find solutions.”

She said young people constituted the majority in Zimbabwe, yet they were economically marginalised.
“This situation has been exacerbated by economic challenges Zimbabwe has been facing over the past two decades. It is against this background that the new dispensation has implemented a number of interventions to address these challenges,” said the First Lady.

She said many pupils failed to reach Advanced Level, thereby precluding them from higher and tertiary education. “They, thus, find their way into the informal economy where start-up costs are low, but their contribution to the economy is minimal. It is these young men and women that the Government seek to equip with skills at vocational training centres (VTCs) for sustainable economic development,” added Cde Mnangagwa.

She outlined how the Youth Incubation Programme was making a difference.
“In order to harness the youth demographic dividend, it is important that after skills training, those who have graduated from various tertiary institutions, those who have gone through the incubation programme in addition to those who would want to start their own businesses, a youth friendly financial facility is in place to assist them with the start-up capital. To that end, the Government of Zimbabwe recently set up a youth Empowerbank,” she added.

The First Lady said Government launched the Women’s Microfinance Bank to cater for women’s unique needs in a formal economy long characterised by patriarchy.

The First Lady noted that current infrastructure at colleges was failing to accommodate students, exposing them to abuse.
She bemoaned the incidence of HIV and Aids, and decried early marriages.

“Young people continue to face the challenges of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, teenage pregnancies, early marriages and gender-based violence. These were brought to my attention during my engagements.

“I emphasised to parents and community leaders that teenage pregnancies and early marriages prevent young girls from reaching their full potential in life and should be avoided. I have already established the Angel of Hope Foundation to help women and children from disadvantaged backgrounds.”

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