First Lady leads environment conservation as Zim commemorates 4 special events . . . holds counselling session in Buhera First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa interacts with St Alban primary school learner Judith Mupamanga after she had recited a poem on environment conservation during the quadruple commemoration of international environmental days in Buhera District, Manicaland province yesterday

Tendai Rupapa in BUHERA

ENVIRONMENT and wildlife patron First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa yesterday joined thousands of people, stakeholders and the Ministry of Environment, Climate and Wildlife in celebrating four special events on the ministry’s calendar as she maintains a foothold in promoting awareness on environmental conservation and protection.

Events commemorated included the Africa Environment Day, also known as Wangari Maathai Day, the World Wildlife Day (traditionally commemorated on the 3rd of March every year), the World Meteorological Day and the International Day of Forests.

An avid environmentalist, the First Lady also launched the Pangolin Conservation Strategy and Action Plan.

To kick start proceedings at the colourful event in Buhera, Amai Mnangagwa led in the planting of 100 assorted fruit and indigenous trees at St Alban Chiweshe Primary School.

She then toured exhibition stands set up by environment development agencies where she interacted with exhibitors to fully understand issues around environmental conservation.

The four events are traditionally commemorated in March and this year they were running under the theme, “Harnessing Innovation for Climate Action and a Resilient Future”.

The mother of the nation thanked the people of Manicaland for voting President Mnangagwa and Zanu PF back into office in the August 2023 harmonised elections, allowing her to continue with her transformative empowerment projects.

Dr Mnangagwa said the commemorations harmonised efforts to create awareness on the environmental challenges the country faces while also acknowledging the great strides achieved in efforts to enable communities to address them.

“In our pursuit to accelerate climate action, we need to recognise the transformative power of access to quality, timeous and accurate climate and weather information services for disaster risk reduction.

“Ladies and gentlemen, whilst the environment faces a myriad of challenges, innovation is central in the forestry, wildlife and natural resource management. We need to work together; with businesses, communities, and civil society organisations to promote climate awareness, encourage sustainable practices, and support vulnerable populations in adapting to the impacts of climate change. Foster further development in renewable energy, clean technologies, and climate adaptation strategies is essential in our communities such as Buhera,” she said.

As the country commemorated World Meteorological Day, the First Lady said it reflected on the advancements made in meteorological technology and the remarkable progress achieved in pursuit of accurate weather forecasting and climate monitoring.

Some of the motor bikes and bicycles donated by the First Lady to the environment monitors and Forestry Commission officers in Manicaland province at the Joint commemorations of the Africa Environment day, also known as Wangari Maathai Day, the World Wildlife Day, the International Day of Forests and the World Meteorological Day 2024 in Buhera yesterday

One notable aspect of this progress, she said, is the migration from old instruments to new digital technologies and automatic weather stations.

“The Meteorological Services Department can efficiently collect real-time data, for weather forecasts and climate predictions which are important, especially after our experience with Cyclone Idai and the current predicted 2023/24 El Nino year.

“I want to recognise significant strides made by the Government of Zimbabwe in the acquisition and placement of radars in Victoria Falls, Kariba, Bulawayo, Chiredzi, and Harare. With their ‘#Impact Based Forecasting’ and advanced capabilities, they provide us with invaluable insights into weather patterns, enabling us to anticipate and respond to potential hazards promptly.

“However, whilst we have made strides in improving climate and weather information, my heart sinks as the country is facing one of the pressing concerns, the phenomenon of 2023/24 El Niño which has resulted in a drought year.

“El Niño events have far-reaching consequences, affecting weather patterns within the region and causing significant disruptions to ecosystems, agriculture, and water resources.

“Our Government recognises the importance of understanding and predicting El Niño events to enable proactive measures to mitigate their impacts including investing in water harvesting technologies, tree planting, irrigation systems and practising climate-smart agriculture,” she said.

As Zimbabwe endeavours to address climate change, it could never undermine the traditional innovations of protecting trees and further planting them.

“The people of Buhera working with traditional leaders have made remarkable progress in the protection of trees. Trees are nature’s guardians, providing us with clean air, regulating temperatures, preventing soil erosion, and supporting biodiversity to combat climate change. We should inculcate a culture of planting trees in our homes and also teach our children.

“Hence, today I am truly humbled by the action of the people of Buhera who with the help and guidance of National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe, approached the Ministry of Environment, Climate and Wildlife to request for the gazetting of the Mavangwe Hills that straddle between Chief Nyashanu and Chief Chimombe areas.

Environment and Wildlife patron First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa hands over a certificate to Mrs Jane Pasipamire for completing fish farming training at the Joint commemorations of the Africa environment day / wangari maathai day, world wildlife day, international day of forests and world meteorological day 2024 in Buhera yesterday

“This, if realised will be an immense achievement for the country as it will be the first gazetting under the Forest Act since independence,” she said.

Forestry management and wildlife conservation, the First Lady said, were closely intertwined with sustainable development and the preservation of biodiversity.

“Wildlife management is another critical aspect of our environmental agenda. Protecting and conserving our diverse wildlife populations is essential for maintaining healthy ecosystems and preserving our natural heritage. “Our Government will continue to invest in wildlife conservation programmes, strengthen law enforcement against illegal wildlife trade, and promote sustainable tourism practices that benefit local communities while safeguarding wildlife habitats.

“As agreed by the Government we must urgently set up the Human Wildlife Relief Fund to help our people and contribute to better sustainable conservation efforts. I am also happy to learn that the area that has been recommended for gazetting is suitable for tourism, hence we envisage that this will contribute to the development of Buhera District,” she said.

“As we take this joint event to also celebrate World Wildlife Day, I am happy to launch the Zimbabwe Pangolin Conservation Strategy and Action Plan today developed to guide and coordinate actions for the effective conservation of our pangolins.

“We are very grateful to Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and Tikki Haywood Trust for developing the much-needed strategy to conserve this threatened and highly trafficked animal.

“In conclusion harnessing innovation for climate action and resilience building requires a comprehensive and collaborative approach. We need to take bold and decisive action to address the climate and environmental challenges that the country is facing.

“As we celebrate the Quadruple Environmental Commemorations, let us recommit ourselves to this noble work and take action today, planting the seeds of change that will blossom into a better tomorrow. By working together with stakeholders at all levels, nurturing our environment, embracing sustainable practices, and prioritizing the well-being of our children, we can build a sustainable and resilient future for our planet and future generations,” she said.

Dr Mnangagwa also held an interactive session with the community to tackle a variety of issues affecting them like drug abuse, domestic violence and teen pregnancies.

“Let us get into the homes and build our families together. There is too much gender-based violence in our families and communities. What does a troublesome wife do and how does a bothersome husband behave? Ndiyani arikukonzera mhirizhonga mumba?” she asked.

In response, Mrs Maria Magumbe described a problem wife as the one who denies her husband conjugal rights.

“A troublesome woman denies her husband conjugal rights resulting in the husband seeking wifely favours elsewhere and violence in the home begins,” she said.

A male respondent concurred with Mrs Magumbe and added that;


“A troublesome woman spends time gossiping without time to cook and do laundry for her family. She denies her husband his conjugal rights. Once you do that, we go outside to get those rights and see who you will blame,” he said.

Mr Hondo Muzavazi says menfolk want a loving woman who does not always shout.

“We need peace and love in the home,” he said.

In jest, the First Lady asked him how his wife behaved at home and he said although he was of age, he was still to get married.

He left the crowd in stitches when he said he had faith that he would get a loving wife from yesterday’s gathering.

“Amai, since you have come to teach us and mould us, I have faith that today I will get a wife from this gathering, a woman who has benefited from your teachings. We will live happily ever after,” he said while laughing.

Mrs Esteri Madhewu decried the surge in promiscuity.

“As women, we are now so much into prostitution although we are married to the point of hiding a lover in the wardrobe. Let us stop cheating and be faithful because there are so many diseases out there,” she said.

An elderly man ascribed challenges in most marriages to issues of equality.

“We are being ruled by women as they clamour for 50-50 equality. A home with two cocks is inhabitable, they are no longer submissive as our wives vanotoita simuka tiyenzane,” he said.

The First Lady counseled couples urging them to live in harmony and shun violence.

She spoke candidly against drug and substance abuse saying they were ruinous.

“My children leave drugs. Leave mutoriro (crystal meth). We want our nation to succeed, but this can never be if people spend time drunk. Let us behave well because we look up to you for the future,” he said.

In a speech read on her behalf by Permanent Secretary Professor Prosper Matondi, Environment, Climate and Wildlife Minister Sithembiso Nyoni said the country continues to stress the importance of public awareness on environmental events to instill a sense of responsibility towards the environment.

She thanked the First Lady for her efforts in environmental management.

“We celebrate World Meteorological Day annually on the 23rd of March. It is a day that holds immense significance in recognising the vital role of meteorology in our lives.

“The day was celebrated with special focus on the theme of climate acknowledging the crucial responsibility we bear in combating the challenges posed by climate change. Climate change effects are already visible and will be more catastrophic if we do not act now.

“Zimbabwe is largely vulnerable to climate change as 70 percent of the country’s population resides in rural areas and relies on rain-fed agriculture. Rainfall has been intermittent, resulting in reduced crop yields and low livestock productivity. In this regard, access to quality weather information is therefore important to address climate change impacts and inform timeous planning and action,” she said.

Minister Nyoni said Zimbabwe had a heritage to protect for both present and future generations and together, the nation could make a difference in safeguarding the environment to prepare a common future for children and more generations to come.

“This is why we are in Buhera today where indigenous knowledge systems have proven beyond reasonable doubt that the systems are vibrant in natural resources management, the excellent state of conservation on Mavangwe,” she said.

Environment Patron and wildlife Ambassador Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa hands over motorbikes to Manicaland Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution Advocate Misheck Mugadza (right) for him to distribute to the beneficiaries in Buhera yesterday. — Pictures: Innocent Makawa

She expressed delight that yesterday’s event promoted the participation of children who have the special role of carrying “our cultural beliefs into the future”.

“In this way, we are providing them with wholesome education that teaches them to have respect for our culture and respect for our environment. This is the most important legacy we can leave for future generations as we look to them to continue preserving our cultural values while also conserving the environment.

“I thank the organisers of this event, the Ministry of Environment, Climate and Wildlife for a job well done in creating this platform that highlights the synergies between our culture and good environmental stewardship,” she said.

In a speech read on his behalf by Chief Chitanga, Chiefs Council president Chief Mtshane Khumalo said speaking at platforms on environment preservation was an acknowledgement of the important role that traditional leaders play in environmental protection and natural resources management.

“The institution of traditional leadership with all its structures has played and presided over various roles over many generations. One of these roles is the management of forests, conservation of wildlife and protection of the environment as a whole.

“History from time immemorial teaches us that our forefathers had their traditional governance system put in place to conserve nature. This included the marking of sacred shrines and even the use of totems as a way of sustainably conserving wildlife. The people linked to a certain animal would protect and preserve such species by not killing them or eating the meat thereof. This was a way of regulating consumption and instilling respect for nature among our people that consequently resulted in sustainable utilization of natural resources,” he said.

Zimbabwe’s Constitution, Chief Khumalo observed, provided for the functions of traditional leaders and among other roles provided for the mandate to take measures to preserve the culture, traditions, history and heritage of communities including sacred shrines.

“Our environment, particularly our forests, plays an important role in the preservation of these cultures, traditions, history and heritage of the communities we preside over.

“The preservation and protection of forests therefore results in the conservation of the heritage, culture and history of communities,” he said.

Traditional leaders, the Chiefs Council leader noted, were buried in sacred places like mountains and forests which became part and parcel of the community heritage.

“In protecting and preserving the forests, traditional leaders have in the process maintained the history and heritage which form part of the history of chieftainships,” he said.

Amai Mnangagwa handed over to the community bicycles and phones given to environment monitors in the Midlands, Manicaland and Masvingo provinces.

Schools in those provinces received desktops to capture data on their project to monitor soil erosion.

She further gave motorbikes to the Forestry Commission district officers in those provinces for operations as the ministry is working with 44 wards in Manicaland, Midlands and Masvingo provinces.

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