Tendai Rupapa-Senior Reporter
ENVIRONMENT and Tourism Patron, First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa, yesterday addressed an induction workshop for the ruling party’s secretaries for the environment and tourism where she advised them of their duties and what is expected of them including looking after the elderly in their areas, cleaning their environments and planting trees.
She said secretaries for the environment should know their environs, what is of interest and how to preserve and protect these sites working with the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry and its other departments like the forestry commission, Environmental Management Agency and ZimParks, to name, but a few.
The First Lady underscored the importance of indigenous dishes which she said also attracts tourists and hammered on the importance of recreational centres as well as participating in clean ups to keep the environment clean among other issues.
The secretaries thanked Amai Mnangagwa for addressing them saying there was need to learn from her and fully understand their role and deliberate on environmental conservation issues to equip them with knowledge for the development of their communities and the nation.
They said they would want to regularly interface with the First Lady to learn more.
Amai Mnangagwa who is also the Secretary for Environment and Tourism in the Zanu PF Politburo said the workshop was mainly grounded on the need to up-scale the promotion of environment preservation and the tourism sector.
She implored the secretaries to embrace everyone in their communities and work with them mainly in planting trees thus preserving the environment including forests, wetlands and potential tourist sites.
“This workshop serves as a sequel to the inaugural exchange we had with provincial secretaries in February 2022.
“This induction workshop provides an opportunity to enhance the logical framework of the mandate we draw from our party constitution to grapple with the changing dynamics around issues of environmental preservation and building a sustainable future for the tourism sector ahead of 2023 harmonised elections,” she said.
The First Lady applauded the ruling party for coming up with that noble initiative.
“The clarion call set before us is that of exploiting the given context of our mandate within the structure of the party to be a reliable lever of promoting inclusive empowerment of our people in Zimbabwe. This is why we are all here from our districts to discuss the landscape of the tourism sector with a view to enhance its function in the nation’s economic agenda whilst at the same time protecting our environment.
“By being a political party of the majority in Zimbabwe, our stake in decision-making must translate to quantifiable deliverables in the livelihoods of our people. The mark of our leadership must be benchmarked by equitable access to opportunities and resources,” she said.
Dr Mnangagwa said the workshop was an opportunity to interface, converge and dissent on the viable roadmap of using tourism as an agent of economic transformation and development as well as a mobilisation tool for upcoming elections.
The year 2022, she said, was a year of harnessing capabilities and orienting members towards establishing zones of excellence for healing the environment from a chain of disasters that it has faced.
“As secretaries for environment and tourism, I encourage you to take this opportunity to fully incorporate sustainable nature-based solutions into the whole landscape of biodiversity protection. However, such an approach will not only require us as leaders to achieve, but it will require us to mobilise every person in our cells, branches, districts and provinces to unite and help heal our land,” she said.
In her tours around provinces, the First Lady said she has been exposed to diverse cultures and traditions that have formed as anchors of a great nation. The rich cultural motifs found in rural homesteads which are taken care of by women, she said, not only provided deep-rooted cultural preservation, but compelled her to perceive them as mediums of tourist attraction.
“The spaces are an alternative means of harnessing tourist investment as compared to the conventional tourism sites in Zimbabwe. Therefore, I challenge you today to think of more ways of mobilising people through grassroots-based tourism.
“Communities must become active participants in modelling local tourism from cell to provincial level. This is because much of our social cultural heritage has the capacity to invite tourist attention if well-packaged and marketed. This will then create employment for our youths and women and contribute to socio-economic development of our country,” she said.
Dr Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe’s culture and beliefs which in most instances were expressed through art, music and literature can be preserved by establishing museums and galleries,
“Beyond museums and galleries being narrowly understood a tourist centres, they are also established to promote civic pride and they transit our ideological and philosophical concepts in an overt manner. As a department, our thrust is to ensure that communities are empowered to preserve their traditions and value.”
To ensure the sustainability and perpetual continuity of these projects, the First Lady said her office would establish a monitoring and evaluation tool for all projects. The tool will be able to measure and assess the impact of the projects in people’s livelihoods.
“As we position ourselves for a decade of economic growth to achieve upper middle income status by 2030, there is an urgent need for a strategy to evolve a new type of economy and investment plan to holistically harness the economic development opportunities that reflect its true value and culture,” she said.
As the health ambassador, the mother of the nation implored people to always mask up, sanitise and keep social distance to keep Covid-19 at bay.
She said vaccination and taking booster shots was the only way to go.
Furthermore, Amai Mnangagwa urged people to live in peace, love one another and shun violence.
Zanu PF Harare Province Secretary for Environment and Tourism in the Women’s League, Cde Maidei Mujuru, representing Cde Abdul Sapa the secretary for Environment in the main wing, saluted the First Lady for her interventions in environment conservation.
She said her department had been enlightened in a number of areas.
“Most of us did not understand our roles as secretaries of the environment and tourism. We have been doing some environmental conservation issues, but we were lacking more on tourism. We needed this education from Amai and other stakeholders. We have come here from cell level to provincial level so that we be given knowledge. We learnt a lot today from our mother,” she said.
Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Mr Munesushe Munodawafa said they had an informative session with the mother of the nation and secretaries for environment.
“This was a very informative session that we had with secretaries for Environment and Tourism in the ruling party and they have been following with keen interest Her Excellency the First Lady’s programmes in terms of afforestation, in terms of wetlands management, in terms of the clean-up programmes, in terms also of other issues that relate to our tradition like the traditional foods and issues that relate to even museums and national heritage.
“So we have had a very fruitful discussion where the First Lady had an interactive session with them. We all had fruitful guidance from Her Excellency on the various subjects that relate to the environment. She also touched on issues that are very pertinent in Zimbabwe now, the issue of human wildlife conflict. We even heard cases where people in Warren Park were saying they have seen an invasion of monkeys in their area. So these are all aspects of human-wildlife conflict which we are now having to attend to. So this was a very educational informative programme that we have had.
“Importantly also is the fact that as Harare province they are now committed to start the project of re-greening the city of Harare in line with her vision.
“So we will see, come the beginning of the rainy season the blooming up of the Jacaranda trees and all other nice trees that we used to have so that Harare can be beautiful again and Harare can be cleaned up again. The emphasis was on the cleaning up of the city and she has committed to continue leading from the front but more importantly Harare province has also taken it up upon themselves that they will now be organising their own clean-up campaign in line with the declaration,” he said.
The secretaries promised to take with them the knowledge they had gained for the benefit of their communities.
They further commended the First Lady for taking a leading role in environment conservation.
Cde Elizabeth Begster expressed gratitude to the First Lady saying; “We are grateful for our mother’s visit and all her good words of wisdom she shared with us about the environment. She has taught us to be hard workers. From here we will definitely run to the elderly to assist them in our communities.
She has emphasised that we should not be ashamed to stand in front of the people doing our work on the environment, sweeping for the elderly, cooking healthy dishes, planting trees and all the work our mother has taught us. She has strengthened us in all these duties so we are thankful and promise to undertake the duties as instructed. As women, she also taught us to have good morals and teach our children against drug and alcohol abuse,” she said.