The Sunday Mail
Tendai Rupapa in NIAMEY, Niger
First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa was recently voted vice president of the Organisation of African First Ladies for Development (OAFLAD) in recognition of her philanthropic work and assistance to the less privileged in Zimbabwe.
She was appointed following an election during the ongoing 23rd OAFLAD’s General Assembly meeting, which ran concurrently with the African Union’s Extraordinary Summit.
According to the organisation’s constitution, elections are held after every two years.
Amai Mnangagwa takes over from Margaret Kenyatta of Kenya, while former OAFLAD president, the First Lady of Burkina Faso, Adjoavi Sika Kabore, was replaced by Congo Brazzaville’s First Lady Antoinette Sassou Nguesso.
OAFLAD is an advocacy organisation where African First Ladies seek to leverage their unique position to advocate for policies that make health services accessible and laws that boost women and youth empowerment.
In an interview after her appointment, an ecstatic Amai Mnangagwa pledged to continue working hard for the development of Zimbabwe and the continent at large. She said her appointment was not an individual’s achievement but that of the whole country.
“I am happy that my colleague First Ladies entrusted me with this position. I feel exalted and this is dedicated to all women (of Zimbabwe),” she said.
She added: “The position that I got as OAFLAD’s vice president is not for me alone but for the nation of Zimbabwe, particularly women.
“What it means is that the other African First Ladies have faith and trust in me and I pledge to continue working hard for my nation and the continent at large.
“The other First Ladies are looking forward to more of my initiatives and programmes that I am conducting in Zimbabwe.
“The organisation’s main vision is to have a developed Africa with healthy and empowered children, youth and women. Therefore, when my fellow First Ladies talk of these issues concerning development, they will not forget about our country Zimbabwe,” she explained.
Amai Mnangagwa said she will make sure that OAFLAD is known across the globe so that people will have an appreciation of what it is about.
“We are the mothers of our nations, hence we should show commitment and work harder for our countries.
“I will also encourage other African First Ladies who are not members of OAFLAD to join and be part of us.
“This is a platform where we share ideas, thereby learning from others and taking the experience back to our countries for the development of our continent.”
In line with OAFLAD’s and her charity organisation Angel of Hope Foundation’s vision, the First Lady is seized with the upliftment of neglected communities.
She is a champion for inclusivity in Zimbabwe’s marginalised communities and has since introduced sustainable projects for them.
She is of the vision that for any nation to prosper, there is need to develop its human capital base extensively.
ln partnership with the Zimbabwe Tourism Association and National Parks through her entrepreneurial programme “Young Women in Tourism”, she provided skills and training in tourism for several young girls from disadvantaged backgrounds.
She is also working with chiefs’ wives on various projects which are meant to uplift the lives of people in various communities.
As the country’s Health and Child Care Ambassador, the First Lady has devoted most of her time to the health and well-being of the nation, with thousands of people, especially women, benefiting from her cancer awareness campaigns.
She said during the meetings, the First Ladies called for the scrapping of hospital fees for women who give birth through Caesarean section in their respective countries.
She said she will engage the Minister of Health and Child Care over the proposal, before it is presented to President Mnangagwa.
She added that the First Ladies also unanimously called for the scrapping of charges for cancer patients.