First Lady empowers couples in Matabeleland

DOZENS of couples from the Matabeleland region yesterday graduated after completing training in a vast array of technical courses under an initiative by First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa to equip them with skills to broaden their sources of income.

The initiative is also aimed at stemming gender-based violence (GBV) and curb divorce cases which are sadly rising at an alarming rate.

The courses include baking, farming, detergent and petroleum jelly-making, carpentry, dress-making, cosmetology as well as cellphone and computer repairs.

Matabeleland was the third stop after the programme was launched in Harare before being taken to Mashonaland West Province as the First Lady forges ahead with her all-encompassing programmes that are leaving no place and no one behind.

The First Lady and other female panellists first met women as men met separately before she later addressed both men and women.

Amai Mnangagwa emphasized the need for women to work hard and be dignified at all times.

“The reason why I have come here today is not new, but do you know who you are semudzimai? Are you standing in your position as a mother in the family? Do you have time with your family, your children, your husband? Mudzimai I have come to strengthen you. Are you able to stand before other women with confidence ?

“Where are you mudzimai, simuka umire panzvimbo. To men, as madzimai we plead with you to respect us because you came from us. Yes, I am your wife, but I am like your mother. “So if it’s like that then we do not want to see the gender-based violence cases. Where are these marriage collapses coming from? Today I have come as a mother, a wife and above all a woman so that we discuss, teach and shape one another. 

“To be called a First Lady, it is just a name, I am also a woman just like you. I have come so that we build our families and live in peace. 

“Do you have leadership skills? I have brought so many courses to you women regardless of age and your educational level.

 “All that I want is for you to be in business and be empowered. I urge you all to take up these courses, the training so that it helps you make your way in business,” she said to wild applause before calling 

Evangelist Nelly Gwatidzo who was among the speakers.

She spoke about what it means to be a woman and certain behaviours that were expected of married women.

Men being taught during a skills development programme organised by First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa with the aim of empowering young couples in Matabeleland yesterday.

“We are not labelled women because we have our individual names, but we are called women for a reason. Now I have come to ask you whether you are 18 years old, 35 years old or whether you are 76; who are you? If someone does not know who they are, they do not know where they are going.

 “If someone does not know who they are, they do not appreciate their role. Who are you as a woman? Does it all end with being pregnant or wearing a petticoat? 

“We are not referring to those who are married, those with children, the educated or those who are divorced. We are talking about mudzimai wese (all women). 

“We want to thank our mother, the First Lady who has gathered us all here from all walks of life. Madzimai we are no longer young, we left the girls chapter and are now women. 

“We now have roots and are firmly rooted in our marriages. Some girls follow the wind but married women are firmly rooted on maturity. 

“Never allow people to look down upon you, “Amai vati (The First Lady has said) as women let us have self confidence,” she said during the lively session which was characterised by the clapping of hands and laughter. 

Gogo Vongai Mpofu tackled challenges in a marriage to curb promiscuity and preserve the sanctity of marriage.

Music star Sandra Ndebele gave a presentation on grooming and deportment.

“It is important for a woman to bath more than once a day and to know the type of dress to wear for a certain event or certain audience,” the singer said.

Chaplain Christine Phiri urged women to arise, rediscover themselves and stop fighting one another for the benefit of men.

Chaplain Christine Phiri teaches women to rediscover themselves and exploit their full potential during an interactive session and training of couples organised by First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa in Matabeleland.

“Everything begins in your mind. If you tell yourself that I come from the farms you continue living a life of farming compounds. Rural areas are places and they are not in your mind. Tell yourself you can do it despite where you are coming from. Tell yourself that if I do not board a plane, my sons-in-law will do it for me. Everyone has got their own problem, but the problem with us women today is that we sing the anthem of poverty but do not want to work. Amai is rolling out various income generating projects, are we grabbing them with both hands, are we helping our spouses to look after the family. Amai varikuti munhukadzi simuka ushande usagarire maoko.

“I once went to the bar where I would dance the night away but i rose and put the past behind me and became a changed person. Amai is saying stand up my daughters and work.

“ It’s not good to make another woman cry because of you. Do you know that we are made to fight amongst ourselves by men because the owner of the husband will be saying my husband, as a girlfriend I will be saying my husband but the one who will be fighting is a woman against another woman. Our mother is saying let us not fight any more. She is saying arise, believe in yourself and do not look back. To be widowed is not a passport to beg. She is saying no to the spirit of destitution and came up with various programmes like detergent making, farming. She is encouraging us to take up short courses and do business with knowledge. Through her foundation, she partnered Zimbabwe open university and urged women to come and train. People are getting certificates with just their birth certificates and national ids but when called some people do not want to go. Let us empower ourselves madzimai and make our mother proud.

Let us leave this spirit of being pitied and looking forward to be given things,” she said.

Women’s Bank boss Dr Mandas Marikanda, gave the women financial advice and taught them how to apply for start-up capital.

“We received many requests from women who said they were trained, but did not have somewhere to start. We then came up with Inzwisa to taste whether you want a loan. I wish to state that for one to get assistance from the bank, you must have an account. We started rolling out a nzwisa programme last week. What this is about is that you need little money to start up to buy the things you want to sell. Our mother gave us hoes to plough and its now up to us to get into the field. You must have a market of your own. What we urge you as a bank is that if you already have an account I will be here tomorrow waiting for women who will come to the bank seeking start up capital. Most of us have never borrowed before so this is an opportunity and we want you to come together and work closely together,” she said.

On their end, men went through similar discussions impressing upon one another to work hard and communicate fully in their marriages.

They agreed that they should avoid taking drugs and other substances to successfully play their role of being heads of families

Mr McDonald Ncube praised the First Lady for her efforts to curb domestic violence and address some issues affecting households through communication.

“We are thankful to the First Lady for her efforts. Marriage is 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 well-being of the family. As men we agreed that we should support our wives when they do their projects.

Through these courses she availed to us, we are eager to make a difference in our families. Where there is no regular income, people are bound to fight, ending up in divorce which affects the children, families, communities and the nation at large. We are going to economically empower ourselves using the skills we acquired during the training.

I was touched by Amai’s words on building families and from now on I am a changed man as I have learnt something beneficial from her,” he said.

Similar sentiments were echoed by Mr Philani Sibanda, who said he was charmed by the issue of personal hygiene that was spoken of during their discussions as men.

“We spoke about personal hygiene which indeed is a big issue in most marriages. We have lots of men and women who resent bathing and end up emitting odours which put away their partners, resulting in promiscuity. This might sound like a small issue but it is very important. People must bath and be presentable at all times. Our wives no longer bath the way they used to, kugeza kwehumhandara kwakapera. I am sure we are going to see massive change in our marriages,” he said.

Mr Ronald Ngwenya said he was prepared to lend a helping hand to the First Lady’s fight against drug abuse.

“These income generating projects being spearheaded by Amai are essential as they help people kill idle time which results in people abusing drugs. Drug abuse is killing many people and leading to the collapse of marriages. Once a person is hooked onto drugs, they renege on most of their duties. I am willing to join our mother’s fight and will encourage others to shun drugs so that we build strong families, strong communities and a strong nation that can stand up against drug abuse. The First Lady is doing splendid work and all she needs is everyone’s commitment to end the challenge,” he said.

Addressing the combined gathering, Dr Mnangagwa expressed delight in discussing issues that the country’s societal set up was grappling with. 

“As you know, ensure that no democratic bracket of Zimbabwe is excluded in the programmes that I carry out at my office. I have traversed the length and width of Zimbabwe with the aim of engaging the general citizenry from various spectra including the elderly men, women, single mothers, youths, orphans, the disabled and also including the marginalised, all with the aim of discussing social issues and strengthening the family unit as it is crucial for our development as a people. During these programmes it came to my attention that young couples, meaning those who have just entered marriage or have been in union for more than five years and below are in a dilemma, they are stuck in the conduit from the days of their youth and genesis of parenthood and leadership responsibilities that follow this chapter of their lives. This has seen a spike on the collapsing of marriages with divorce rates at an all-time high. I reinitiated Gota/Nhanga/Ixhiba programme with an aim to provide a rite of passage for young children from infancy to adolescence in line with our traditions and cultural ethos. From this, I then deduced that there are some who were not as fortunate in receiving these teachings prior to marriage hence my launching of this engagement with young couples. The aim is not only to provide a platform of grooming our young couples into respectable heads of families but of financial empowerment as well,” she said to applause. 

The First Lady said the world now demanded hard work and commitment hence her focus on empowerment programmes. 

This, she said also bade of people to reorient themselves towards self development and financial empowerment.

“I am saying baba and amai who are you as individuals and what can you do to empower yourselves and generate income? The globe as we know it, has shifted its horizon and entrepreneurship, it has replaced formal employment. We have now re-entered the egalitarian phase of the economy worldwide, that of exploring frontiers and breaking boundaries leading to that of rediscovery. As Zimbabweans we ought to take advantage of this and be more oriented towards self- development and financial empowerment. We have to shift from a mindset of being fed fish to wanting to learn of how to fish. Today we have young couples who were taught through my office and various stakeholders a vast array of technical skills which will empower the graduates here today not only to generate income but to create employment as well. I would like to take this opportunity to encourage those who have not registered to do so as the lessons are ongoing and free of charge.

“Every economy that has metamorphosed from being a developing one to becoming first world has had entrepreneurship and egalitarianism at its core. Nyika inovakwa nevene vayo as enunciated by His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe Dr ED Mnangagwa. This applies to each and everyone of us from grassroot level going upwards. We all have a crucial role to play for the development of our beloved Zimbabwe. Today I had the opportunity together with my panellists to discuss with young women in a bid to recondition, reorient and position them as young leaders firstly within their households and also at societal level. I can assure you fathers that your wives have been moulded and rebuilt. These women now are saying they love their husbands and will not leave their homes. Vataura kuti havachabuda muwanano vana baba. This shows they have learnt a lot today. I also know that the fathers here have been grounded as well and would like to air out their grievances and pledge as well to their wives. Today is the day when we have come to unite as a family as men and women and children whom we have given birth to during the subsistence of that marriage. Let us discuss and come up with a way forward of how we succeed and what our children will learn from us as their parents. We know women have been taught and learnt a lot from what they received from the panellists,” she said.

The mother of the nation implored the nation to take the courses she was offering seriously so that they reap the maximum possible benefits from them.

“There are so many courses that many of you have attended. These courses are for you families so that we break the gender-based violence and also the divorce cases which are going up on a daily basis. So we are saying those who have not taken these courses you are supposed to do so and this will help your families. The women’s bank is here to assist the women to have their starter-packs so that they can go back and continue with what they learnt from these courses. Vana baba, if you see women going for projects and clubs, please let them and allow them to go and have those sessions. They help our families. I want to thank you very much for coming and being with me and sharing and also interacting so that we build our strong families,” she said emphatically.

Amai Mnangagwa humbly asked the people to vote for President E.D Mnangagwa and ZANU PF in the forthcoming elections. 

“In this vein, when exercising our democratic right to vote, let’s do so in peace, love and harmony,” she said.

Bulawayo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Judith Ncube thanked the First Lady for empowering the couples through training of skills.

First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa hands over certificates to a couple that benefited from her skills development programme in Matabeleland yesterday. Looking on is Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube.

Amai Mnangagwa gave foodstuffs that include mealie-meal, flour and macaroni to the people gathered.

The graduands received certificates.


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