First Lady expands widows association to Manicaland . . . unveils empowerment projects, thousands benefit Scores of widows attended the Manicaland chapter launch of the First Lady’s Widows Association by the First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa in Chipinge District, Manicaland on Thursday. — Pictures: Tinai Nyadzayo.

Tendai Rupapa in CHIPINGE

THOUSANDS of widows yesterday erupted with joy when empowerment champion First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa distributed chicks, feed and goats to them for projects during an impactful launch of the Manicaland Chapter of the First Lady’s Widows Association as she strives to ensure that all citizens use their hands to earn a dignified living.

Dr Mnangagwa also gave the widows goods that included cases of basic foodstuffs, cases of drinks, cases of water and packs of snacks for the women from all the seven districts to open retail shops.

The First Lady, the patron of the association, advised them that every district would account for all goods sold while beneficiaries use the profit to buy new stock.

The Manicaland launch was the third after launches in Mashonaland West and Masvingo provinces. Widows, the mother of the nation cautioned, needed to lead exemplary lives so that they could train their children in a good way.

“I greet you all with so much love. Thank you for voting back the President and Zanu PF in last year’s August 23 elections.

“This enabled me to continue with my empowerment programmes. Now we are preparing to celebrate our Independence anniversary here in Manicaland,” she said.

“Today I have come to focus on widows because I understand they face many trials and tribulations. This is the third province where I am launching this programme. God created us and our spouses, but never said we shall perish on the same day. Once your spouse dies, it does not have to make you sit down and cry every day. I heard that the mortality rate of men in this province is high. What is causing this trend? Some are dying because of drugs that are affecting the whole country.”

Dr Mnangagwa said God had a purpose in everybody’s life hence the need for people to lead honest lives.

“Today I am saying God has a purpose for your survival. I have come to encourage you to be new creations. We say no to women who are envious in favour of those who ask God to be strengthened and not get infamous for snatching other people’s husbands. You must be dignified and not change boyfriends as children watch. What will you teach your children if they see the bad that you do? Respect your bodies so that children learn good manners from you. A mother figure has to be dignified so that you are accorded the motherly status you rightly deserve. I visited one place here in Manicaland where I heard that married women were at the forefront in cases of promiscuity. Where is this coming from, this trend of hiding lovers in the wardrobe? I heard some people saying this on their own. Where did we put our manners as we are now competing for wrong things like cheating? Be content. The kind of dressing we are wearing as women is improper. We say no to dressing like people of loose morals and let us have dignity. I have come to strengthen you to say you are okay as you are,” she said.

“I have brought projects for all widows from the seven districts. We want people who work without gossiping. I have brought goods so that you open shops as you work with the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development. I will also bring the Master of the High Court who will teach you a lot, especially on inheritance issues,” she said. The widows then formed committees in a transparent manner that would lead the projects. 

Minister of State for Manicaland Provincial Affairs and Devolution Misheck Mugadza paid tribute to the mother of the nation for her love for the country’s citizens, including Manicaland.

Part of the goods donated by Widows Association patron First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa to widows in Manicaland Province for them to start retail businesses.

“Amai, we continue to thank you for your love. We have been with you in this province since Sunday and we remain with you as you undertake your special programmes. Today you have remembered widows who were facing a myriad of challenges but through your programme, they are going to benefit a lot since they value your valuable teachings,” he said.

Zimbabwe Prison and Correctional Services Chaplain Christine Phiri described the occasion as an important one for widows to celebrate.

“It’s not about mourning here today, but happiness throughout because we have been remembered as widows,” she said before she burst into a song “Handimbochema kana mai varipo”.

“Our mother has come today to tell widows that there is a time to mourn but you come to a point where you have to work hard to sustain your family and not assign such a critical task to boyfriends. Our First Lady is saying arise and work. When your spouse departed, he did not go with your hands or brains,” she said and sang “Shanda, shandira mhuri yako”.

“If your spouse left an inheritance, Amai is saying do not squander it with boyfriends but it must help the children. Widows must arise and work even when enemies are there, gossipers abound but keep going forward. As haters say, you will follow your husband soon, prove them wrong. All you need to do is be a hardworking woman. Do not be frowned upon by relatives each time they see you because of begging.”

“Take advantage of programmes and projects that the First Lady is rolling out for your benefit. Arise womenfolk, arise,” she said energetically.

So upbeat were the beneficiaries that they could be seen punching the air with excitement.

Mrs Nyarai Samuzopa said she was grateful for what the First Lady had done.

“When I lost my husband four years ago, I lost hope. I never thought I would be exalted again but the First Lady has come to raise me from the dust and I thank her for her great love,” she said.

This dovetailed with the sentiments expressed by Mrs Susan Chitsono.

“I can only see God through the wonderful work that our mother is doing. I now have ways and means to put food on the table for my children because of the First Lady’s intervention and I want God to bless her abundantly,” she said.

Gogo Pauline Njanji said she will never disappoint the First Lady.

“I do not want to disappoint Amai Mnangagwa because a good turn deserves another. She has given me wherewithal and I want to excel in the project she has given me so that the world out there will appreciate just how grateful I am. I am so happy this day,” she said.

Mrs Petra Zhou echoed similar sentiments.

Inkululeko Yabatsha School of Arts (IYASA) performs during the launch of the First Lady’s Widows Association Manicaland chapter held in Chipinge.

“Widows are called names because of their propensity to beg. I want to work hard and fight the urge to beg so that I can show the world what I am capable of achieving through the use of my own hands. Our mother is well-meaning and I have fully embraced her counsel,” she said.

Mrs Sophia Dhorobha expressed gratitude to the First Lady.

“On behalf of Mutasa District, I am thankful for what our mother has done for us. I just do not know how best to thank her. She has encouraged us to work hard and be smart always as we conduct our projects and businesses. Amai said I have given you these goods to succeed and truly we have been empowered,” she said.

Mrs Sithembile Mtetwa of Chipinge also saluted the First Lady for her empowerment initiative.

“I am thankful for what our mother has done for us this day. I was always stressed since my husband died as I had nowhere to start. Today I have been consoled through the projects that we have been given. I will encourage other widows through this project. My mind is now settled and I am now a heroine through the First Lady who has given us ideas,” she said.

Mrs Gugen Chinyamudede said she had learnt a lot from the First Lady.

“I was so overjoyed with what I learnt from the First Lady from health to dressing and the care for the children. I lost property when my husband passed on, but now I am comforted with the goods I have received and I will work and use the profit to send children to school. I used to struggle for food, but this is now all in the past and I am truly grateful,” she said.

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