First Lady, Auxilia Mnangagwa, has rallied liberation war veterans to partake in the planned demonstrations against targeted sanctions in Zimbabwe.
SADC member states declared October 25, as the solidarity day to voice out their disapproval of the continued imposition of sanctions against Zimbabwean authorities.
On the day, each member of the bloc, Zimbabwe included, is expected to hold various activities to increase pressure on Western countries namely America and Britain to remove the embargo.
In 2001, Washington enacted the Zimbabwean Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZIDERA) and slapped sanctions on the then President Robert Mugabe and some key members of his administration and certain entities.
The late president tried in vain to campaign for the removal of the sanctions but America maintained its stance and in May US President Donald Trump extended the sanctions by another year.
Emerging from a closed door meeting with female war veterans from Bulawayo, Matabeleland South and North provinces at Harvest House International Church premises, Thursday, Mnangagwa said she was in the city to understand the struggles the country`s liberators were facing.
“I am here to listen to you and hear your experiences of what you went through during the liberation struggle to fight for independence. Another fight is also taking place on October 25, to campaign against sanctions imposed on the country,” Mnangagwa said.
“For over 20 years, sanctions have been troubling our country and these economic difficulties affect women and children I call upon everyone regardless of church affiliation or grouping to be part of this campaign.”
The first lady said these sanctions had brought economic difficulties in the country and due to those economic difficulties, the running of households was now tougher for women.
“As women, you are affected directly by the hardships, as the household looks up to you to make sure it is well run,” she said and encouraged women to soldier on despite the economic challenges.
“I know you endured hardships during the liberation struggle and the current hardships also require that strength.”
Mnangagwa also urged the struggle veterans – who receive monthly stipends from the government – to venture into income-generating projects.
“I urge you to join hands, organise yourselves and embark in projects such as making soap, detergents, peanut butter, honey, goat raring and sell these products not only here locally but to external markets. I know China has a market for avocadoes and oranges, which we could produce in large quantities were it not drought,” the first lady noted.
She said these income-generating projects would ensure they become financially empowered and would foster a spirit of unity among the women.
“Organise yourselves and make these projects succeed. I wish the Ministry of Women Affairs was here to tell us about the women’s loans offered by the women’s bank so that all of you can be able to access it,” Mnangagwa added.
The first lady also lamented the low numbers of female representation in Parliament, saying that affected their representation and articulation on issues.
In the current Ninth Parliament, the National Assembly has 31 percent female representation, a drop from 35 percent in the previous Parliament.
Secretary for war vets in the Zanu PF politburo, Douglas Mahiya praised the First Lady for making history by coming down to Bulawayo and meeting female war veterans.
“This is a first and we are grateful to the First Lady to honour the contribution women made in the struggle. We are also encouraged by the projects she has lined up and as mentioned, the First Lady will avail sewing machines,” he said.
Minister of State for Bulawayo Metropolitan, Judith Ncube, also expressed gratitude to the First Lady and said in her wisdom, Mnangagwa saw it fit to honour the commitment and contribution female war vets made to liberate the country.
Zanu PF chairman for Bulawayo province, Cephas Ncube advised the female war veterans to heed the First Lady’s call and remain strong.
“The First Lady came here to strengthen you and as such, I say war vets must remain strong,” he said.