The Sunday Mail
There was unrestrained ululating, singing and dancing at State House when spouses of senior Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers were warmly welcomed by First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa.
At the inaugural interactive session attended by spouses of senior officers from all the country’s provinces, the First Lady, through her Angel of Hope Foundation, donated two greenhouses for their empowerment.
One of the greenhouses, which has been set up at ZRP’s Bindura Farm, will empower spouses of senior officers, while the other one is meant for spouses of junior officers across the country.
The donation also came with inputs and water infrastructure to help the women produce tomatoes, onions and horticultural crops.
The First Lady also donated food hampers to all attendees and shared business tips and ideas.
Overall, the donations were meant to empower spouses of police officers, who, like most people, have borne the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic.
They were encouraged to embrace empowerment programmes to help sustain their families.
“It is a pleasure meeting with spouses of senior police officers from across the nation, which is an indication of mutual respect,” she said.
“We are here to interact as women, discussing and sharing ways on how best we can be empowered, be it at home or higher levels.
“Initially, I thought you had some projects running; however, today is a new day and it is never late to start. Here we will share ideas on how best we can start.”
Amai Mnangagwa rallied the women to unite for their projects to be successful.
She exhorted them to work hard, shun corruption and learn from their mistakes.
“It is not good to be associated with such; we need to pull in one direction if these projects are going to be a success.
“It is good to always reflect along the way either as a group or an individual, trace where you went wrong the previous time and build from those mistakes.”
The mother of the nation said women were inherently resilient and likely to overcome difficult circumstances.
She also encouraged them to stand up for what is right, be of good morals and cultivate good relations among themselves, as these values would naturally build strong bonds within families, communities and their marriages.
“Let us be good examples within families, uphold family ties and always remember that it is our duty as women to elevate the lives of our families and support our spouse,” she added.
“Empowerment will also curb issues of domestic violence, so it is imperative to work and provide for our families because the men need us to assist them in providing for our families.”
Women were also encouraged to take up opportunities that will uplift their lives.
“Our partners need to understand the nature of business we are into; transparency is key.
“Bear in mind that our hard work will also work as excellent life lessons for our children because they learn from us, so let us not be shy to work for our families.
“We may have titles, but behind the titles we are mothers, women or sisters, hence we have to work for those who look up to us. In essence, a title needs to be complimented by hard work.
“As women, we are expected to carry the burdens of our families on our shoulders, so we have images to uphold. Let us respect our spouses and families by embracing ethics and cultural values.”
There was also need, the First Lady added, to embrace healthy traditional dishes, be smart, organised and strive to invest for a better future.
Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development director Juliana Mapungwana commended the Amai Mnangagwa for creating a platform for women to share business tips and ideas.
She implored women to embrace the Women Development Fund, which comes as an opportunity for women to engage in business.
“Our loan facility only charges 10 percent interest rate and after giving you the loan, you have three months’ grace period before you start paying back over a year,” she said.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for women, which gives us a chance to elevate our lives.”
Zimbabwe Women’s Microfinance Bank (ZWMB) chief executive officer Dr Mandas Marikanda also shared tips on how to start income-generating projects.
ZWMB currently has more than 90 000 account holders.
“We are pushing for programmes like the chicken value chain where we are also giving incubators to help you start projects.
“We also have financial literacy training programmes where we are there to put your idea into fruition, guide you on how best to go about your business and grow,” she said.
The attendees applauded the First Lady for the first-ever session through which they were able to share and learn.
“I never dreamt of one day meeting Amai, and having such an opportunity…for me this was a chance not to miss.
“I have been taught how to work and provide for my family and as well be a supporting partner to my spouse,” said Synodia Vambe from Matabeleland North.
Miriam Mutema from Matabeleland South said the interactive session was an eye-opener and will go a long way in empowering women.
“We have been taught how to start business even with the little resources we have within our reach, not forgetting how much we will benefit from the greenhouses that come as Amai’s kind gesture.
“I am ready to share with others back at home what I learn here as well to start my own project,” she added.
Because of her sheer hard work, the First Lady was appointed patron of the Zimbabwe Builders Association on Thursday.
She has also introduced various empowerment programmes for women across the country.