First Lady launches empowerment scheme for war vets, youths. . . 1 000 complete agric training in Hurungwe

NEARLY 1 000 liberation war fighters and youths from Hurungwe district in Mashonaland West Province, completed a first-of-its-kind capacity building programme in agriculture and environmental management courtesy of Environment Patron, First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa, as she leaves no sector behind in her empowerment initiatives.

In her speech, the First Lady acknowledged that the training would help bridge the gap between other members of society and war veterans who were lagging behind in terms of her empowerment projects.

The capacity building programme which was launched in Mashonaland West, will cascade to all the country’s provinces.

It will promote value chain opportunities in sectors such as processing, value addition and marketing.

 Amai Mnangagwa said the inclusion of veterans of the liberation struggle was crucial in ensuring sustainable agriculture and natural resources management.

By involving youth, it would ensure that they stayed away from drugs and alcohol abuse.

Also it is key in affording the youth a platform to learn the country’s history from the veterans of the liberation struggle.

Song, dance, ululation and whistling characterised the day as beneficiaries toasted to a new lease of life and appeared geared to face the future with a new gaze.

The mother of the nation also tackled thorny issues like child marriages, courtship, drug abuse, deportment and domestic violence during a colourful interactive session with members of the community.

Beneficiaries were drawn from four constituencies in Hurungwe district, while the remaining six constituencies will follow suit soon.

The First Lady, who is the Agric4She patron and also the Zanu PF national secretary for Environment, partnered the ruling party’s Department of Lands and Agriculture in providing the training and the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, as well as the Ministry of Environment, Climate and Wildlife.

The training covered many areas including sustainable agriculture, environmental and natural resources management focusing on veld fire management, conflict resolution in communities, human-wildlife conflict, climate change as well as disaster management.

Agrarian history of Zimbabwe and national orientation and unpacking the First Lady’s empowerment initiatives for the girl child and communities, were also among areas covered.

War veterans who were the best farmers last season in wheat, tobacco, maize, soya bean, horticulture production, cattle rearing, environment conservation and value addition, received gold medals.

Youths who came out tops in the same fields received silver medals.

In her remarks, the First Lady implored beneficiaries of the training to put to good use, all the concepts they had learnt.

“Today we have come to Mashonaland West Province, Hurungwe District, to assess the skills and work we can do around farming and protecting resources around us with focus on liberation war fighters and youths.

“I implore our youths to pay attention when they work with former liberation war fighters who will be teaching them the ways of our nation, nhoroondo yenyika yedu since they are the future of the nation. It is critical to appreciate the history of where we came from. These works are being led by the war veterans with the backing of the youths. We are launching this programme with a view to extending knowledge to youths and war veterans. This programme will be replicated in all provinces countrywide.

“I am glad that we have entered into this programme together since I am a mother who barely sits down. Liberation war fighters were lagging behind in terms of projects therefore, I am joyful to get into the field with them. This event comes at a time when we are preparing for our Independence Day celebrations which are slated for Manicaland Province. I am happy that more than 900 were trained, but I say the teachings must proceed so that more are trained. As women we are thankful that our Government recognizes us as women where we are given our rightful positions as mothers. We were given Agric4she where we are doing wonders as women,” she said.

Such trainings, the First Lady noted, have the effect of ensuring that children stay away from drugs and alcohol abuse.

People carry home the food hampers they received from First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa in Hurungwe yesterday. — Pictures: John Manzongo

“Even vanasikana vakuita zvekudhakwa kwakanyanya. The way they dress also is not pleasing and stubbornness at home irks us as parents. As Agric4she patron, I encourage all youths to be involved in farming and other areas requiring the use of one’s hands.  I exhort all women to venture into Agric4she so that we grow crops to end hunger. 

“I want to congratulate you Mashonaland West for producing various crops that were sent to the Grain Marketing Board. As a province, you contributed to the grain of the nation. As you youngsters work with elders, do not just copy skills, but also learn good manners so that you grow up well-rounded with respect,” she said.

The mother of the nation also touched on social issues.

“Where is violence, quarrels and divorce cases soon after marriage coming from? For you vanambuya nana sekuru to get to where you are today, what made this possible?” she asked.

In response, Sekuru Thomas Dhega attributed his marital bliss to love.

“I live well with my wife and we still have that love of old. She is still respecting me like before. But our sons-in-law and daughters-in-law of today have lost morals. I do not understand whether this is due to modernity. Daughters-in-law wear provocative clothes before the husband’s father while on the other hand the son-in-law does the same. A daughter-in-law comes wearing body-hugging apparel. Dressing defines an individual. Thank you for making us work with these children as we teach them good manners,” he said.

The First Lady concurred with the views.

“I totally agree with him on dressing. The way some women dress is bad with some elderly women also donning mini skirts,” she said.

Mrs Chakasara Moyana gave insights into how she expects to be treated by in-laws.

“As a daughter-in-law I expect my in-laws to treat me just like their child. If they treat me well I will surely respect them. If I do something wrong, they should correct me and not go about discussing me with other people. Some daughters-in-law are stingy and eat behind closed doors as their in-laws starve. Let us show one another love,” she said.

The First Lady highlighted her programme on widows.

“I have a programme on widows. In my travels I hear complaints that some widows are husband snatchers. Is it true,” she asked.

In response, one respondent said: “It is not out of the widows making. Some women maltreat their spouses giving widows a chance to get married because she treats the man well. A man runs away from where he is ill-treated.”

The First Lady gave the women some words of advice.

“If you see a colleague getting lost, correct them. Let us teach one another good things and mould each other. We say no to women who are into prostitution and frequent bars. If there are some who are in this oldest profession, please write each other’s names down since I want to give you projects. I want us to be dignified and able to train others. As mothers, we are teachers,” she said.

She also asked the qualities some boys looked for in a potential wife.

An elderly woman expresses her views on how their marriages were solid as opposed to nowadays where young couples are lacking respect for each other and to their in-laws during an interactive session with First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa in Hurungwe yesterday

Gibson Chitimbe said he goes for good manners.

“I assess one’s character and assess whether akabva kuvanhu or not and dresses properly not short clothes. What if she drops something in public, can she pick it. We must also not rush into marriage but learn one another first to avoid divorcing,” he said.

On her part, Rosemary Chitewe said: “These men harden us. They cheat, we drop them and look for someone else and he does the same, we move again to the next one. You then appear promiscuous yet they drive us into this.”

The First Lady addressed many issues affecting communities and families in a bid to build strong family foundations.

She urged people to report GBV cases to her on the National Gender Based Violence Call Centre 575.

Secretary for Agriculture in the Politburo Cde Kenneth Musanhi praised the First Lady for her inclusivity.

“Our mother is not selective. Amai, your programmes teach people love and good relations and to know that which is expected of them in life. The programme that is taking place here Amai is important as it has never happed before. We went to war to free our country. I wish to thank you greatly.

“Section 23 of our constitution respects heroes of the war of liberation, our war veterans therefore, what you are doing is in line with what our constitution says and we thank you for this. 

“I thank you for programmes that teaches youths to leave drugs and live good lives,” he said.

In a speech read on her behalf by Mrs Veronica Jakarasi, Environment, Climate and Wildlife Minister Sithembiso Nyoni paid tribute to the First Lady who is also the ambassador for wildlife. 

“It is indeed clear and undeniable that sustainable agriculture and environmental management issues play a significant role in the socio-economic development of ur country. 

“The principle of sustainability or sustainable development provide a mechanism for development to occur in harmony with environmental protection and enhancement.

“It requires us to manage the use, development and protection of natural and physical resources such as water, land, plants, animals and air in a way or at a rate which enables people and communities to provide for their social, economic and cultural well being.

“Your Excellency, ladies and gentlemen, it is evident and clear that as a country we are faced with various environment, climate and wildlife issues that require a coordinated approach. 

“Veld fires have continued to be a problem and are posing a threat to human lives and their livelihoods whilst also reducing the productive capacity of the land and destroying property.

“ Our magnificent and attractive forest landscape is under threat as large tracts of land are being lost to deforestation. “Further, the degradation of our wetlands, pollution, litter as well as proliferation of invasive plant species such as hyacinth,” she said.

Addressing the challenges, Minister Nyoni said, required a coordinated approach where synergies and partnerships were built.

Empowering the youth in agriculture, she said, can also address the challenges of unemployment and migration.

“By providing training, resources and support, young farmers can revitalise rural economies and ultimately national development. 

“Initiatives such as youth-led environment, biodiversity, agricultural cooperatives and mentorship programmes can foster skills development and entrepreneurship, creating pathways to sustainable livelihoods in agriculture. 

“On the other hand, war veterans have valuable skills and experience that can be applied to environmental management. 

“Veterans are disciplined and were trained in leadership, logistics and resource management, making them well suited to conservation efforts and natural resource management. 

Their discipline, resilience and sense of duty can be harnessed to address environmental challenges such as deforestation, pollution and habitat degradation. 

“Participation in conservation projects can provide veterans with opportunities to use their skills in the service of conservation, agriculture while at the same time promoting both national healing and cohesion,” she said.

In a speech read on her behalf by her Permanent Secretary Cde Clive Mphambela, War Veterans Affairs Minister Monica Mavhunga said it was impossible to overlook the profound impact of the First Lady’s leadership, compassion, philanthropic work and social entrepreneurship.

The First Lady’s commitment to recognising and honouring war veterans and youths, Minister Mavhunga observed, not only demonstrated her deep respect for the sacrifices they made in liberating the country from colonial rule but also exemplified her dedication to upholding the principles enshrined in the Constitution.

Environment patron First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa hands over a second medal to one of the war veterans who scooped prizes during the capacity building programme in agriculture and environmental management for liberation war fighters and youths in Hurungwe yesterday

“In a nation where the welfare and economic empowerment of our veterans is not merely a matter of policy but a sacred Constitutional obligation, Amai’s steadfast support and commitment to economic empowerment and social justice, her exemplary pursuit and the rebuilding of our national consciousness is testament to her unwavering dedication to the well-being of those who brought about independence to our country and the youths who are the future of the country.

“A veteran of the liberation struggle in her own right by recognizing the invaluable contributions of her fellow veterans and providing them with the tools they need to succeed in sustainable agriculture and environmental management, she is not only fulfilling a constitutional mandate but also embodying the spirit of compassion and solidarity that defines our nation,” she said.

Minister Mavhunga observed that while veterans of the struggle had reaped the benefits of the land reform programme, securing access to the land they fought so valiantly for, it was crucial to acknowledge that many of the veterans had not had the opportunity to receive formal training in sustainable agriculture and environmental management.

“Indeed while the land reform programme provided veterans with a tangible asset and a means of livelihood, it did not necessarily equip them with the knowledge and skills needed to maximise the productivity and sustainability of their land holdings. As a result, many of our veterans faced challenges in optimizing their agricultural practices managing natural resources effectively and mitigating environmental impacts. In recognising this gap, this programme represents a significant milestone in the journey of our veterans,” she said. 

Beneficiaries of the programme sang praises to the First Lady.

“I am so pleased that the First Lady has remembered us. We wanted to excel in farming but did not have the training so our performance will certainly improve because of this,” said Mr Samson Muchatuta.

His colleague, Mr Shephered Juzu, echoed similar sentiments.

“The love that our mother has shown us is out of this world. We promise to work hard and use the skills we have attained to improve ourselves and contribute to national development. 

“Our mother is well meaning and may God grant her more years to serve the nation,” he said.

Thomas Moyo, a youth, said the training they received would also help fight cases of drug abuse and lawlessness among youths.

“Lawlessness was reigning among youths because we had nothing to do. Now that we have skills and have been partnered with war veterans to learn from them, this will take us somewhere. There is going to be behavioural change in the country because of this initiative,” he said.

Amai Mnangagwa distributed foodstuffs that included mealie-meal, rice, cooking oil and sugar beans to traditional chiefs, the elderly and those with disabilities.


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