First Lady calls for hard work, respect among partners

Tendai Rupapa and Walter Nyamukondiwa in BANKET

AT least 1 500 residents of Mashonaland West Province walked tall in Banket yesterday where they graduated with life-changing short courses, courtesy of First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa’s skills development programme to empower newly married couples to curb marriage breakdowns spawned by laziness and immorality.

The courses include baking, farming, detergent and petroleum jelly-making, carpentry, dress-making, cosmetology, information Communication Technology, cell phone and computer repairing.

Banket is largely a farming area scattered with compounds housing the workforce. The First Lady has a special place for everyone in her heart, enabling her to mix and mingle with people from any background including the compounds whom she is empowering with courses to earn a decent living. This helps curb drug abuse and social ills like prostitution.

Mashonaland West was the second Province to benefit from the programme which was launched in Harare and two sessions were held at Harare Polytechnic and Mabvuku.

So oversubscribed was yesterday’s event judging by the turnout at the event where the First Lady implored the nation to vote President Mnangagwa and Zanu PF in the forthcoming harmonised elections pencilled for August 23.

She spoke out against drug abuse, domestic violence and disrespect, encouraging the nation to observe peace at all times.

It was a marvel to see some couples walking arm-in-arm after completing their studies free of charge, thanks to Dr Mnangagwa’s benevolence.

They received certificates after a vigorous training for a week.

The First Lady brought along speakers to address women on various topics as men were on their own discussing before she later addressed a combined session.

Evangelist Nelly Gwatidzo who was one of the panelists invited by First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa, teaches young women during a skills development programme for newly married couples in Banket yesterday

In her address to the women while introducing her programme, Dr Mnangagwa said it was essential for people to use their hands to earn a decent living and keep problems at bay.

“Down with those who do not want to work and trouble us,” she said as the crowd responded, “Pasi navo”.

“The programme I have brought here is about you vanangu madzimai echidiki. If you look at me, I am just like you, we are all women and the challenges we face are similar. Maybe as your mothers we saw the challenges earlier and maybe you will face the same tomorrow so we are travelling on the same road. How are we moving and how are we dealing with the challenges we face?

“I have come to strengthen you madzimai and tell you that you are special. First of all, you must have self-confidence. Who are you? Do you know who you are? Are you able to stand in front of the people saying things that are understandable and people will be asking where she is, if she is not around things do not move? I have come so that you become a new creation today. If you are shaking, this will make you steady. Love yourselves first. You are important as nothing moves in the absence of women. God created us as comforters who will douse the wars in the homes and if we talk of peace and that coming from us as women, it will be heard in a dignified manner. When you were married and leaving your homes, what did you bring to the homes where you were married, makaunza bopoto here or runyararo? Those who left the marriage institution have some experiences they met that made them quit. You just do not quit willingly, they faced challenges but today I have come to say quitting is not a solution. Try to find the root cause of the challenges you are facing as a couple, communicate, find solutions or seek help,” she said.

One of the traditional chiefs teaches young men drawn from districts in Mashonaland West province during a skills development programme organised by First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa with the aim of empowering newly married couples in Banket yesterday

Amai Mnangagwa said her programme was all-encompassing and sought to serve the interests of the citizenry and sow the seeds of love.

“I have my girls (speakers) whom I have brought today, you will hear from them how situations are handled. How do you firm up in the face of calamity? Today we would like to discuss how prepared we are as women to face the challenges of life. I then said no one will be left behind. Whenever I get to a place I remove you from one place to the other. You may be sitting on a wet place my child, maybe you are sitting on cow dung, I then remove you from there and put you in a dry place. How then will you be left behind in such circumstances? Why do you want to be left behind? When you are not found in projects and other places where other women congregate, where are you found? In prostitution, beer halls? If you are missing from projects and places where other women meet, we shall follow you and I will come for you to say stay away from this place you do not belong here. We have come to remove you from that corner where you are known to spend time unproductively. I said leave that place and come to others so that we teach you how to handle your home and projects. This makes your name and family dignified. Working for oneself is the answer. This habit of creating friction among people, I have brought in a good name for you so that you are not found in those bad things. If you can’t change into a new creature today, then you are hard but we want to take you from these things and take off that overall and throw it in the bin. Today I want this woman to work hard and build her friends as we walk together. We want to take out that spirit of destruction and promote that of building, loving one another, helping each other and uplifting one another, isn’t it so women?” she said emphatically to applause.

Evangelist Nelly Gwatidzo sought to define what the vernacular word for woman (mudzimai) means.

“Who is a woman and where are you coming from and heading to? Today we want to teach one another just what a woman is. Mudzimai is divided into two parts that is Mudzi-mai. Every tree has roots (mudzi) which are women and the trunk which are men.

“As a woman you are like roots that draw water and nutrients feeding the trunk and leaves that is your family. Roots bring forth good things about the trunk. As women are we being submissive to our husbands? Are we feeding our children good morals? Are we playing our roles in our marriages? When entering the institution of marriage, are you respecting all relatives or are you being selective?” she said.

First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa hands over certificates to a couple that benefited from her skills development programme aimed at empowering newly married couples in Banket yesterday

She spelt out the need for communication at all times.

“As a daughter-in-law you found your husband’s family getting along but they have separated because of you. A daughter-in-law unites the family; she is a unifier. Do you know that communication with your husband is critical not to fight for control? Communication is vital.

“If you are a married woman you have a way of speaking that brings about happiness. Do not just speak willy-nilly and expect in-laws and other people to suit themselves as if you are serving a buffet meal. A real woman does not act that way. A mother brings all together. Now if you maltreat people from your in-laws side, would you embrace us were you to become a First Lady the way our mother, Dr Mnangagwa loves all her children without being selective. Our mother does not frown upon the sick or those with disabilities, mbereko yavo inokwana tese. As a daughter-in-law where do you stand,” she said.

Ms Sheilla Mandebvu delivered a speech on grooming and etiquette while Mrs Daisy Gonye taught the women on submission and cordiality with spouses.

Pastor Margaret Kandeya helped the gathering with an appreciation of what marriage is and challenges in a marriage.

“The institution of marriage must be entered with an understanding that one is leaving spinsterhood. Once you fail to realise that, that is when problems start in a family. When you are married, your husband becomes your best friend and vice-versa.

The moment you start including friends in your marriage issues, that would be a recipe for disaster. One must accept that she is married and behave like one. If a woman does not appreciate her position as a married woman, that is when they start dressing badly leaving some parts of the body exposed,” she said.

First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa interacts with the elderly drawn from districts in Mashonaland West province as she handed them blankets and food hampers in Banket yesterday

Chaplain Christine Phiri infused joy in the gathering with her energetic delivery of a strong message of hope to the women.

“If you tell yourself as a woman that you are incapable, indeed you do not succeed. I love this place where I have come. People are troubled that they come from farms but if you take yourself as a farm person you remain like that. If you take yourself as a person from the compounds you will remain one from the farming compounds.

“Amai have come to mould a woman who when she is at the farm or in the compounds she says God will do wonders for me. One who will say my children will attend university, I will drive a car, I will plough and God will bless me. The farm is not in one’s mind. Amai is saying a farm is just a place. A compound is just a place. We have come to uplift one another as women, thanks to our mother, the First Lady,” she said.

Chaplain Phiri implored people to have confidence all the time.

“You are your first enemy. You told yourself that you would fail. Tell yourself that you will make it. Do not accept to be looked down upon by someone else. This is what our mother is teaching us. She said have confidence in yourself. My co-pastor said you should be prepared for marriage so that once I am in it I shall not look back,” she said.

Women’s Empowerment Bank CEO Dr Mandas Marikanda gave the gathering an in depth insight into women empowerment and projects.

She shared with them business ideas and how to access loans from the women’s bank.

She was supported by a representative from the Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, and Small and Medium Enterprise Development who also took the women through empowerment projects they offered.

After the speakers, the mother of the nation held an interactive session with the gathering which was highly appreciative of her efforts to uplift them.

One of the beneficiaries shared a heart-breaking story of her husband who was taking drugs.

“My husband is taking drugs and is always violent. I am a hardworking woman but he grabs everything I work for and makes me and the children sleep outside because he will be intoxicated. I try by all means to show him love thinking that he would change but all that is in vain. Here we were taught to love and submit to our spouses but he is proving difficult to love. I am happy that Amai you came with your teachings, he is here today and I am confident that through your teachings, he is going to learn from his mistakes and be a better husband and father,” she said with a voice filled with concern.

Ms Grace Chimimbe trained in baking.

“We love the programme you unveiled for us so that we can look after ourselves. You remember us time and again. I am now able to bake cakes and I am already seeing myself as a businesswoman. I’m grateful you brought along Women’s Bank officials who taught us tangible things. I am going to get a loan from them and start my business as soon as possible,” she said confidently.

The men’s meeting came up with nuggets on how to start and sustain a family.

Most of the men benefited from the First Lady’s short courses covering various fields including Agro-business, horticulture, animal husbandry, piggery, aquaculture and beekeeping among others. The beneficiaries who are raring to go hailed the First Lady for opening up opportunities that could have cost them to undertake on their own.

Mr Joseph Kawana, who earned a certificate in piggery said the training had empowered men to be able to look after their families.

Mr Joshua Mafemba said through the beekeeping course, he had received an opportunity that seemed out of his reach before.

“Through these courses, men are eager to make a difference in families, communities and the country,” said Nathan Ngove who received training in Information Communication Technologies.

During the men’s interactive session, headman Katizagombo said the foundations of marriage were shaky from the onset as couples were circumventing long upheld practices of getting into marriages through involving elders from the onset of a relationship.

He said men should avoid taking drugs and other substances to successfully play their role of being heads of families.

Mr Edward Nyamakope who graduated in Agro-business management said people should take up opportunities presented by the First Lady at no cost.

Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Community Small and Medium Enterprises Development business development officer Munyaradzi Muzamana shared opportunities for funding and procedures to be followed when one wants to start a venture.

He said the Government had made it easy to register a company through his ministry.

He said there were numerous opportunities for funding availed by the Government which those who graduated can tap into to fund their projects.

Chief Chidziva said marriage was a sacred institution which should be protected with men valuing their wives and giving them the leeway to work and also contribute to the economic wellbeing of the family.

In their contributions, men said lack or poor quality of intimacy in the home was the main reason they were having extramarital affairs.

“We marry to get conjugal rights and other things like starting a family but sometimes our wives make our lives hard, they take the bedroom as a courtroom, always fighting even when it’s time to sleep. They force us to have extra marital affairs,” said Mr Joseph Simeta.

The two groups later came together.

Mashonaland West Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Mary Mliswa-Chikoka sang praises to the mother of the nation for the skills training programme which had helped people attain certificates.

“You made it possible for hordes of learners to be awarded certificates as a result of the training that you gave us Amai. All the short courses were done through Zimbabwe Open University. We are proud as a province that you appreciated that empowerment and development go hand in hand. For someone to be empowered, strengthened and be able to uplift his or her community, that person must have knowledge. You then said people must be taught and be armed with knowledge and be able to work for their families. Now you have come with another strategy and invited couples to come and be trained together. The husband will be taking his course as the wife will be doing her own course and in that home there will be two people who have two courses that are economically beneficial. Both of them will be armed with knowledge to assist one another when going about their various works in their own homes. A single bracelet does not jingle my good people.

“If a man and his wife are hard workers they then raise families that love to work. If we teach our children to work, they grow up with the zeal to work for themselves as well. Amai wants a responsible nation and that all starts in the home,” she said.

Chaplain Phiri later made another presentation at the joint session and spelt out the need for couples to respect their marriages.

“When you enter marriage, be content with your partner, love one another and not spend time singing the jingle “asvotwa ngaarutse (Shona for if you can’t stand the heat, keep out of the house). Some men marry today and divorce tomorrow and start singing “Amai ndinokumbira ruregerero pamukadzi wamakandirorera takarambana (the late John Chibadura’s hit song called Mukadzi Wamakandiroorera”.

She continued: Why are you divorcing, are you not taking mutoriro and beating up your wives. As women we love you as men and we expect to be loved. As women let us be submissive and give men their rightful places. If we accord each other respect, there will be happiness in the home. Women were crying out that my husband is trouble-some and what he does infuriates me (Pengaudzoke’s song called Seiko Kuonda?).in response our mother brought projects and encouraged people to work,” she said.

In addressing the joint session, Dr Mnangagwa paid tribute to the whole community for welcoming her in their numbers and embracing her all-inclusive programmes.

“I wish to thank you heartily for welcoming me here in Banket in a farming community where I said there are my children whom I want to visit. I have come especially for young couples with courses that you completed free of charge so that you can fend for yourselves and your families. Young people’s marriages are collapsing in a short time, what is causing this? What is causing domestic violence and that is why I have brought empowerment projects so that you do not have time to fight as you will be busy on projects. Madzimai you have been taught that when men raise their voices, you lower yours. But why are you raising your voices to the woman you chose and loved? We say no to those who look down upon themselves and say I live in a farming compound and why would I need a project. The word compound is just a name and that is why I have come here to talk to you my children. I want you to start projects from the training you went through. But projects require discipline and concentration and someone who is approachable and welcoming. I included farming or agriculture courses here because you mostly do farming,” she said.

Dr Mnangagwa spoke out against drug abuse.

“Look how people are being intoxicated by taking tumbwa and mutoriro. How then will you fare in the projects when you stay drunk. You girls, is this behaviour of disrespecting parents and in-laws appropriate? We want good names and to build respectable names where we were married. The women build homes that are respectful and without violence. There are women who did farming courses, I encourage you to join Agric4she which has various projects you can do,” she said.

Speaking about elections, she said: “Standing here as a mother, I implore you to vote for President ED Mnangagwa and Zanu PF. We are one family in this country Zimbabwe and we must live together in harmony. I urge you all to vote resoundingly and in peace. I want peace as a mother and I work with children who want to work and I am not selective as I see to it that the girl has something to do while the boy has left mutoriro. Through my Angel of Hope Foundation, I am helping people and I am not looking back until every person has been empowered. I hardly talk about politics as I concentrate on my humanitarian work, but today m humbly asking for your vote because this is the time, August 23 is the day,” she said to applause as the gathering burst into song and dance.

The First Lady distributed blankets, food hampers and toiletries to hundreds of the elderly.

Traditional chiefs also received food hampers and everyone who attended went home with goodies including maize-meal, thanks to the mother of the nation.

The Herald