Pamela Shumba Bulawayo Bureau—
FIRST Lady and Zanu-PF Women’s League boss Amai Grace Mugabe yesterday blasted non-governmental organisations for using food handouts to pursue hidden political agendas aimed at creating confusion among communities.Addressing thousands of people who thronged Maphisa Growth Point in Matobo District, Amai Mugabe warned drought-prone Matabeleland South Province against being manipulated by non-governmental organisations for political expediency.
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“NGOs come here giving people food handouts year-in, year-out. This shows that they don’t have the people at heart. They want us to be beggars for the rest of our lives. “We know that they’re pursuing their political agendas and trying to turn the people of Zimbabwe against their Government,” Amai Mugabe said, drawing thunderous applause from the receptive gathering.
“They bring their food handouts that don’t last long and they up their game just before elections to try and convince the people to turn their backs against the Government. We don’t want their food. We want them to open the doors they closed so we can trade with other countries and develop our economy.”
The First Lady said cheap food handouts would not bring regime change in Zimbabwe, a country whose independence came after a protracted armed struggle that claimed the lives of many gallant sons and daughters of Zimbabwe.
“Matabeleland South is one of the drought prone areas in the country and I know that it’s targeted by NGOs. What they don’t know is that this country was given to us by God and we’ve our leaders who love us. “There are people who sacrificed their lives for this freedom that we enjoy today. Those NGOs must know that their food handouts will not change anything,” Amai Mugabe said.
She urged Zimbabweans to be wary of people like opposition MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, who always makes empty promises. “Some people engage in politics because of their greediness and just for the fun of it. Don’t allow Tsvangirai and his people to waste your time. When he was appointed Prime Minister he forgot about serving the nation and started proposing love to every woman he set his eyes on,” Amai Mugabe said.
“Such people don’t care about the interests of the nation. They care about their own interests. They’ll start coming here just before elections soliciting for your votes and spending the money that they get from their partners in some developed countries.” The First Lady blasted the opposition for inviting a ruinous sanctions regime, that has destroyed the country’s economy and caused suffering among ordinary Zimbabweans.
Amai Mugabe, however, said the country’s detractors had been left with an egg on the face after President Mugabe adopted the Look East policy, which had begun bearing fruits. “We were able to accomplish our mission during the liberation struggle and countries like China and Russia have been our friends before we attained independence. We’ll continue to strengthen our friendship with these countries because we’ve a lot to learn from them,” she said.
Amai Mugabe took a swipe at prophets of doom who went around denouncing the government’s economic blue-print, Zim-Asset. She assured the nation that Zim-Asset would be fully implemented with help from friendly countries such as China, which had already started injecting funding for key projects.
“I know there are some rogue elements who tell people that Zim-Asset is just a document. I want to assure the people of Zimbabwe today that together we’ll successfully implement it. The economic blue-print has four clusters and the most important is the food security and nutrition,” she said.
“As a nation, we should be self sufficient in food production. I’m happy that we’re friends with China, a country that no one can afford to ignore because of its rapid economic growth. We want to learn from them and I’m glad that there are a number of deals that have been signed to improve various sectors of the economy.”
Amai Mugabe said the mega deals signed between Zimbabwe-China would help increase power generation, accelerate the digitisation programme and money would also be availed for the construction of a bigger Parliament building in Harare. The First Lady, who earlier on toured the thriving ARDA Antelope Irrigation Scheme, expressed satisfaction with the maize crop under irrigation.
She said more similar projects should be established in the province and the rest of the country to boost food security. Amai Mugabe stressed the importance of value addition and beneficiation of natural resources across different economic sectors as a short to medium term measure to increase export earnings as well as create employment.
She commended Matabeleland South for being an epitome of unity in the country as it was devoid of factional reports. The First Lady said she was humbled by the support the party enjoyed in the province, which won all the 13 National Assembly seats in the 2013 harmonised elections.
“I’m happy that there’s no factionalism and violence in Matabeleland South. I want us to maintain the peace that is prevailing. It’s the only way to develop as a country. In some countries there’s chaos and suicide bombers are killing people every day. I know that life is tough but let’s take solace in the fact that there’s peace and stability in the country, which allows us to work and turnaround the economy,” said Dr Mugabe.
She said Matabeleland South was a significant province in the history of Zimbabwe as it was home to the late veteran nationalist, hero and former Vice President, Dr Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo, whose rural home was in the St Joseph area in Matobo District. Amai Mugabe paid tribute to Zimbabweans for the love they have for the First Family, especially President Mugabe, saying the purpose of her visit was to show appreciation and reciprocate the love.
After the rally the First Lady donated 220 tonnes of maize, 120 tonnes of rice, 4 440kg of washing powder, 5 000kg clothes, 3 000kg salt, 2 000 pairs of shoes, 5 280 bars of washing soap, 3 000kg of bath soap and 1 800 litres of cooking oil.
The donations also included 220 tonnes of Compound D fertiliser and 20 tonnes cotton seed. A total of 10 soccer kits, 30 netballs and 30 soccer balls were part of the consignment to be distributed among schools in the province. The First Lady also handed over six tractors to be distributed among Matobo, Gwanda, Insiza and Beitbridge districts.
Six chiefs who attended the gathering received food hampers and 100 litres of fuel each. Dr Mugabe said each family in the province would also receive 50kg of maize from the Grain Marketing Board through the drought relief programme. To show their appreciation to the First Lady, Matabeleland South province pledged 27 cattle, three goats, four sheep and 10 tonnes of wheat.
The rally was attended by Cabinet ministers Saviour Kasukuwere, Kembo Mohadi, Simon Khaya Moyo, Sithembiso Nyoni, Thokozile Mathuthu (Deputy), Abedinico Ncube, Nyasha Chikwinya, Eunice Nomthandazo Moyo, members of the National Assembly and Senate, chiefs, war veterans and other senior Zanu-PF members.