First Lady leads clean-up in Kuwadzana• . . . discourages burning plastics to save climate • . . . calls on youths to shun drugs Environment and Tourism patron First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa loads litter bags onto a refuse truck during a clean-up campaign in Kuwadzana, Harare, yesterday. — Pictures: John Manzongo

Tendai Rupapa

Senior Reporter

UNCOLLECTED garbage and discarded containers of illicit brews that had become unsightly at Kuwadzana 2 Shopping Centre in Harare were yesterday cleared out, thanks to Environment patron First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa who led thousands of residents in cleaning the populous suburb as part of this month’s clean-up exercise.

President Mnangagwa declared every first Friday of the month National Environment Cleaning Day in a development that has helped most parts of the country look good and keep diseases at bay.

Diseases such as typhoid, cholera and dysentery thrive in dirty surroundings.

Irregular refuse collection by council has resulted in some residents dumping garbage on road verges and street corners in most high-density suburbs, leaving them at the risk of contracting diseases such as cholera.

After the First Lady’s effort yesterday, Kuwadzana 2 Shopping Centre was left sparkling clean and airy, giving residents a breath of fresh air.

Amai Mnangagwa also held an interactive session with the community, hammering on the need to fight drug abuse, domestic violence and general lawlessness among youths, including disrespect for the country’s traditional norms and                                                          values.

The theme for the clean-up in June is, “Solutions to plastic pollution”, with an emphasis on single use plastic.

After cleaning the environment, Dr Mnangagwa led the planting of Trichilla dregiana, sausage and Kenyan croton trees.

A man contributes his views during an interactive session with First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa in Kuwadzana yesterday

She said she felt honoured to participate in the clean-up as the nation worked towards a common goal of a clean, safe and healthy environment that will propel the country into a middle income economy by 2030.

Plastic pollution, she said, had become one of the most pressing environmental issues as the rapidly increasing production of disposable plastic products was overwhelming the world’s ability to deal with them.

“Due to this, the United Nations has begun negotiations to come up with a global treaty on plastic pollution by the end of the year 2023. Ladies and gentlemen, I become so emotional when I see people burning plastics. 

“Burning plastic also results in air pollution which contributes towards greenhouse gases causing climate change, and thus having health effects on the young, elderly and those suffering from respiratory ailments. Let us by all means desist from this behaviour, especially in urban areas,” she said.

Dr Mnangagwa enjoined the city fathers to work together to establish sustainable waste management systems with strong clear plans and schedules that were strictly adhered to.

“Waste collection should be prioritised in all areas to avoid the accumulation of waste at undesignated sites. I am also glad that the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry is working towards introducing incentives to change the habits of consumers, retailers and manufacturers enacting policies that push for a more circular model of design and production of plastics,” she said.

The First Lady acknowledged the good job informal and formal waste collectors were doing.

“Well done to you! You have managed to create a mind shift on waste which is now seen as a resource. The recyclable materials that you are collecting have enabled waste to be reduced in the environment. Therefore, I want to implore the formalisation of informal waste pickers and give them the necessary support for their progression into formal employment,” she said.

Zimbabwe, she said, observes World Environment Day on June 5 and this year’s theme is “Solutions to plastic pollution”.

“World Environment Day 2023 is a reminder that people’s actions on plastic pollution matter. I am happy that this resonates with the steps our Government and businesses are taking to tackle plastic pollution. Therefore, it is time to accelerate this action as a country. Indeed, it is time to beat plastic pollution,” she said.

A high school student contributes his views during an interactive session with First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa after a clean-up campaign in Kuwadzana yesterday

The mother of the nation reiterated that efforts made towards managing waste can be painless and profitable with huge gains for people and the planet that help avert the costly downstream costs of pollution.

“As I have emphasised before, action will drive the recycling sector to grow and become a significant contributor to the National Gross Domestic Product,” she said.

Herself an upholder of the country’s traditional norms and values, the First Lady implored youths to stay away from drugs and respect elders at all times.

“This issue of taking dangerous drugs threatens our health. Zvino kudhakwa uku, kunwa, kusvuta izvo zvinokanganisa pfungwa dzedu and internal organs todii vanangu tatambura isu sana mai venyu. My children, how sweet are these things that you are ruining your lives instead of shunning them. Mischief now abounds yet we raised you as disciplined children. You no longer take orders, no longer respect elders, you are stealing, killing and raping because you will be intoxicated.

“Where will this take you nhai Francis mwanangu newe Punha? Francis anorasika mukova wemumba make and ends up in other people’s houses where he then steals while under the influence of drugs. Ukuwo mwanasikana wangu Punha wakes up in unfamiliar homes where she would have been taken while drunk. Anotomuka achishamisika kuti akarara kupi uye nani. This is where pregnancies and diseases emanate from. 

“Some will end up aborting thus breaking the laws of the country and going against the law of God. Accept to be counselled and we are all your mother. It takes a whole village to raise a child so accept to me reprimanded by all mothers whether biological or not.

“Where has respect for our traditional norms and values gone? As parents, we look up to you because you will look after us in future. We want girls who will be in boardrooms giving ideas so that the company and the country progress. We say no to girls who rush to bedrooms only and some even rush to have sexual relations at tender ages,” she said.

Dr Mnangagwa had words of wisdom to share on courtship.

“When the time to get married comes, what sort of partner would you want vanangu?” she asked, eliciting a lot of responses.

A high school learner said when the time is right, she wants a respectful man who is educated, smart, non-alcoholic and God fearing.

A boy echoed similar sentiments.

“I consider a girl with self-respect and self-discipline because without these she won’t be able to respect me or my relatives,” he said.

The First Lady also inquired if women still respected their husbands and vice versa.

“Women, the Bible teaches us to be submissive, are we putting ourselves under our spouses?” she said.

An elderly lady blamed westernisation for the collapse of respect for norms and values.

“There are a few of us who submit to our husbands because of westernisation which stipulates that we are equals. Plus, these days women are cheating, shiri yakabvuta rekeni. Others are not content and compare the dressing and food that neighbours have,” she said.

Another discussant described men as thorns in the flesh.

“Our husbands are a pain, Amai. We work collectively as a couple but they end up spending the money with girlfriends, the money I would also have worked for. It is painful to be submissive to a husband who does not respect you. We love our husbands but they do not love us the way we love them. Also our mothers-in-law and aunties dislike us to a point where we regularly clash. If their son brings a lover, they welcome her even when I am there,” she said.

A man said indeed there were disagreements in marriages but some women carried grudges for long.

“We admit that we indeed err as men but when you do wrong, the grudge does not end and the bedroom will be like a courtroom. As men we are saying to our wives, please learn to forgive and forget,” he said, triggering laughter.

Another contributor raised the need for communication in marriage.

“Communication is lacking in our marriages such that my wife chooses to share with her friends and relatives our issues without engaging me. Plus once our spouses have children, they ‘forget’ about us and concentrate on the child without even bothering to also give us love. Kiss chaiyo hatichaizive mumba,” he said.

The First Lady took time to counsel children, fathers and mothers urging them to live in peace and love one another.

She thanked the people of Kuwadzana and encouraged them to always practice hygiene to keep diseases at bay.

Deputy Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Barbra Rwodzi praised the First Lady for her interventions and implored everyone to take issues of environmental conservation and waste management seriously: 

“Because of this programme that was unveiled on 5 December 2018 to this day where we are now reaching five years has made it possible for people, others in business and big corporates appreciate the need to preserve the environment. 

“Everyone now knows and has a guilty conscience that throwing litter willy-nilly is inappropriate. Your involvement has made it possible for many to help transform their communities. Let me advise you that recycling that was started by our ministry through the environmental management agency is growing steadily but after Covid-19 pandemic in 2022 to this day, I wish to advise that companies that are involved in recycling have increased across many communities, especially in high density suburbs and rural areas. This is pleasing because this is where the majority of the people are,” she said. 

In a speech read on his behalf by Mr Mungure, Permanent Secretary for Harare Province Mr Tafadzwa Muguti said the city authorities were thrilled by Dr Mnangagwa’s programmes and care for the environment.

“I wish to acknowledge all our stakeholders who came out to be with us as we continue with our national duty of cleaning the environment. Your support has made the national clean up a success,” he said. “As a norm, every first Friday of the month is national clean-up day and today we, as a province, are honoured to host the First Lady Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa. 

“Amai is also the environment patron who is passionate about environmental management. Her passion and determination have enabled communities to implement waste management projects which have created green jobs and reduced waste in the environment. For this particular clean up exercise the thrust is on reducing waste accumulation in the environment with emphasis on single use plastic. 

“The June national clean-up day comes against the background of upskilling the recycling sector as the panacea to reduction in accumulation of residual plastic waste in the environment. Focusing on plastic, the main pollutant of concern presents a perfect opportunity to bring together all sectors including generator users, waste collectors and all support systems towards a common consensus on managing plastic pollution. 

A high school student contributes her views during an interactive session with First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa after a clean-up campaign in Kuwadzana yesterday

“It is up to us now to make smart decisions regarding the environment. Remember, a health environment is the foundation of economic prosperity, human health and well-being.” 

Harare Town Clerk Hosiah Chisango praised the First Lady for her emphasis on cleanliness.

“With cleanliness, diseases will be kept at bay,” he said. “You have heard our mother allude to the fact that there are many areas where people are being affected by cholera so we encourage people to rush to our clinics wherever they present with cholera symptoms. 

“We cannot continue losing lives through diseases that we can control as a city and residents. It is a big job to clear garbage, but we need to work together. We have markets and many members of the informal sector who work from everywhere. We do not forbid you but urge you to practice good hygiene wherever you will be. Let there be litterbins and we will only carry the bins so that we live in a clean environment.” 

Residents too could not hide their joy for having been led in the clean-up by the First Lady.

Mrs Ruth Mutsvairo said: “This is an important day for us because of the visit by our mother Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa for the clean-up to remove dirt from our surroundings. This programme also impresses on us as instructed by our mother today to clean our homes, yards and surroundings at all times. 

“In the wake of the cholera outbreak, she advised us to practice good hygiene to keep it at bay. Dirty surroundings increase the prevalence of cholera so we are really thankful to our mother for this. We shall carry the teachings forward as this does not end here.”

Truth Jeketera, the current junior MP for Kuwadzana East Constituency, was ecstatic. 

“This is amazing. We are really grateful for the programme that was being done today. We have learnt a lot as students that we should pay zero tolerance towards litter because my community is my pride so as young people we have the primary responsibility of taking care of our community and constituency as well. We are really grateful to Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa for coming to our constituency,” he said.

Mr Simbabrashe Urayayi, a resident, said he was charmed by the First Lady’s efforts to promote good hygiene to ward off diseases.

“I am thankful to the First Lady who has come here so that she assists us in cleaning up,” he said. “There was too much filth at the shops where people prepare food to a situation where at one spot people will be preparing food while on the other they will be throwing litter. 

“However today we have cleaned up and I am confident that we will not be affected by cholera or typhoid. As youths we have learnt the importance of cleaning up and I urge other youths to stay away from drugs in line with the counsel of the President and the First Lady.”

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