The Sunday Mail
George Maponga in Masvingo
First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa has challenged traditional leaders to work closely with Government and development partners to engender and speed up socio-economic development in rural areas where the majority of people live.
In a speech read on her behalf by the Minister of Media, Information and Broadcasting Services Monica Mutsvangwa during a one-day First Lady’s Interface Conference with chiefs’ wives here yesterday, the First Lady said traditional leaders were duty-bound to complement Government efforts to improve lives of people in rural communities.
The conference was attended by chiefs’ wives from Manicaland and Masvingo provinces.
Chiefs, she added, could assist rural communities to deal with some of the challenges they are facing.
“I expect to work with you chiefs’ wives, so that we join hands to end some of the nagging problems in our communities. Let us work together so that we inculcate the spirit of working with our own hands amongst our people in the quest to develop our communities and the nation as a whole. You shall be closely working with Government departments and non-governmental organisations to bring development in your areas,’’ she said.
She also underscored the need for traditional leaders to be at the forefront of eradicating societal ills such as domestic violence, child marriages and other abuses mainly suffered by the girl-child in rural communities.
‘‘In the communities that you live, it is easy to quickly know and identify where the girl-child has been forced into an early marriage or subjected to any form of abuse so that such a situation is quickly addressed.
‘‘I am leaving you with a challenge, a challenge of making sure that we work together with various Government departments and development partners to arrest some of the challenges facing our communities.’’
The First Lady exhorted traditional leaders to play a leading role in the preservation of the country’s traditions, cultural values and norms that should be bequeathed to prosperity.
She encouraged them to promote the production of small grains such as rapoko and millet that were not only drought-tolerant in the face of global warming but also highly nutritious.
Participants at the conference were also told about the operations of the Zimbabwe Women Micro-Finance Bank, which serves communities without access to conventional banks, particularly women in rural areas.
Most of the participants were very keen on the bank and wanted to know how they could access loans.
Police spokesperson Commissioner Charity Charamba also addressed the conference, where she revealed that Masvingo province continues to record high cases of murder and rape.
The First Lady also donated hampers including small grains-seed and blankets to the chiefs’ wives.