The Sunday Mail
Tendai Rupapa in CHIWESHE
PEOPLE must follow health guidelines and adhere to lockdown restrictions that are in place to prevent Covid-19, which has killed thousands of people globally and left many others jobless, First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa has said.
She also addressed issues such as domestic violence, child marriages and the need to embrace the Pfumvudza agricultural programme to boost yields, which dovetail with her role as a mother who is passionate about addressing issues that affect families.
Failure to follow the restrictions, she warned, could scuttle ongoing efforts to tame the disease, which has disrupted people’s traditional way of life.
The First Lady is the country’s health ambassador with a passion for the welfare of the elderly, women and children.
She has traversed the length and breadth of the country disseminating information on how to combat the pandemic, while also distributing sanitisers, food, blankets and equipment sourced through her Angel of Hope Foundation to clinics, hospitals and various communities.
The country has been under lockdown since March, making it difficult for vulnerable groups to put food on the table, hence the First Lady’s intervention.
Amai Mnangagwa comes from Chiweshe and her visit here was more of a homecoming affair.
The mother of the nation warned villagers against breaching lockdown measures to reduce prospects of contracting Covid-19, which has so far killed close to 200 people in Zimbabwe.
“Today I have come to my home area and my people to discuss this pandemic which is wreaking havoc across the globe. I have come to talk to you and share information on this disease, which has changed our way of life.
“I urge you all to adhere to lockdown restrictions because you do not know the status of people you will be mingling with as you move about. We have a secret enemy across the globe,” the First Lady warned.
“Covid-19 has caused a lot of havoc in our lives. It has turned our lives upside down. We live with a secret enemy. It has touched our livelihoods, our health and even disrupted our social and cultural way of life. Children are not going to school as they should; families are separated.
“We are all stressed and cases of domestic violence have also increased in some homes during this lockdown.
“We cannot visit each other freely as we used to do before Covid-19, we cannot greet each other with the handshake as is our custom, we cannot hug each other and we cannot gather in large numbers at funerals and other family gatherings such as at weddings or family reunions,” she said.
Covid-19, she added, had brought about many challenges like the closure of schools, while some companies across the globe had ceased operations, causing joblessness, hence the need to take heed of the measures being taken by the Government to keep everyone safe.
“Lockdown is not a punishment, but a way of protecting everyone against this disease, which has no cure. It is now everyone’s duty to teach those who do not know about this disease. This is not Government’s responsibility alone. Let us take lockdown regulations seriously to keep the virus at bay.
“Let us all wear face masks at all times to avoid the spread of the virus. If we follow the guidelines, the pandemic will come to an end in our motherland. Even in families, if one of us is affected, let us support them not to discriminate,” she added.
Amai Mnangagwa spoke about the need to eat healthy food.
She paid tribute to the late Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Minister, Cde Perrance Shiri, who also came from Mashonaland Central Province, for being a hard worker.
“He was so hardworking and he encouraged people to grow crops. Covid-19 is dangerous and not selective. It took away Cde Shiri,” she said.
Amai Mnangagwa introduced a motto to the gathering, which she said was helpful in keeping the virus at bay.
“The key message yandauya nayo muzuva ranhasi ndeyekuti tese tibate mashoko ekuti: ‘I protect you and you protect me.’Ndiro donzvo richatichengeta kuti tikwanise kuzvidzivirira kuchirwere ichi,” she said.
She implored people who are hypertensive and diabetic to have regular health checks.
She spoke strongly against domestic violence, which has reared its ugly head during the lockdown period.
“Let us not hide behind Covid-19 lockdown while being troublesome in your marriages. Let us maintain peace, love one another and live together in harmony,” she said.
One elderly woman blamed domestic violence on men who spend much of their time drinking beer at the expense of their families.
“Men are causing problems in the homes. They roast meat vachidya gango at bottle stores while we wallow in poverty and hunger at home. They are also having extramarital affairs and they come home trying to compare us with their girlfriends to the point of assaulting us,” she said.
Her sentiments were echoed by another elderly woman who accused men of squandering money on illicit brews like kachasu.
“Men spend time drinking kachasu and come back home drunk, hurling obscenities in front of the children. What sort of image is this? Vana vacho vanodzidzei kana baba vachidaro? Thank you Amai for raising this topic,” she said.
The First Lady also spoke against child marriages, saying Mashonaland Central tops in this malpractice.
“Let these children grow and see whether they will not look after you in future. You are marrying off our future female MPs, doctors and nurses. But why marry off a 12-year-old or 14-year-old?”
The First Lady pleaded with chiefs to take a stand against child marriages and to regularly denounce such practices in their jurisdiction.
Chief Negomo, Mr Lucious Chitsinde, agreed with the First Lady’s assertions that early marriages were rife in Mashonaland Central Province.
“When such cases of child marriages are brought before our courts, we do not allow that lobola be paid. We usually discourage such marriages from proceeding, but we have challenges where some people are appealing against our rulings at the Magistrate’s courts. This has the effect of setting aside the chief’s ruling in some cases.
“Some of the cases involve elements of rape. I urge the First Lady to intervene and ensure that our courts do not accept appeals on such cases,” he said.
He also spoke strongly against domestic violence.
Gogo Edna Nyanhira was full of praises for the First Lady.
“I thank her for the food she has given us. We had no soap and were preparing our relish without cooking oil, but she has remembered us. We are also happy she spoke against child marriages, such cases are taking place in our community. Children are being married off at tender ages and we hope there will be drastic change since the First Lady has spoken against this.”
Minister of State for Mashonaland Central Provincial Affairs Monica Mavhunga praised the First Lady’s undying efforts to improve the welfare of the country’s citizenry.
“I am grateful for your visit. Your love for the country’s citizens is awesome. We do not know how you manage this but you have great love and you assist everyone in need. We had 139 cases of Covid-19 in this province, out of which 108 recovered, while three died.
“We are going on with the building of Mvurwi Hospital and isolation centres. We are, however, in need of ventilators and personal protective equipment for frontline workers. We remain grateful for your support and the assistance we get from the Government.
“As a province, we appreciate the teachings you have given countrywide and are following the advice. We are also thankful for the foodstuffs you have brought us. Our elderly no longer had food but you have a big heart to make us survive. We also thank the President for allowing you to go around the country doing your work.”
Mazowe Central legislator Cde Sydney Chidamba also thanked the First Lady for the visit.
“We welcome you heartily and the elderly are happy and proud that they raised a cultured person like you. We love you Amai. You are going around with your awareness campaign with the aim of keeping the country healthy. This can only be done by someone with great love like yourself,” he said.
Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe, who is also Mazowe West legislator and ZANU PF’s Mashonaland Central chair, praised the First Lady for her magnanimity.
“You have great love and we have seen you traversing the length and breadth of the country preaching love.
“You are not selective and you help everyone in need countrywide. Keep up the good work, which has a bearing on the health of the people of Zimbabwe. You are blind to political and religious affiliation.
“No one used to travel to Kanyemba, which is in our province, but your love has made you remember the people of Kanyemba. We thank you for your Covid-19 teachings and the seed of love you have planted here,” said Minister Kazembe.
To date, the First Lady’s awareness campaigns have positively impacted thousands of lives empowered through vital knowledge that has enabled them to protect themselves against the virus.
The elderly, the disabled and other vulnerable groups walked away with blankets, assortment of foodstuffs and toiletries, thanks to the mother of the nation.
Methodist Church’s Masimba edenga, Marimba edenga and the Police Band provided entertainment, and the First Lady joined the gathering in song and dance.