Tendai Rupapa Senior Reporter
FIRST Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa led from the front during yesterday’s march to mark the SADC-initiated anti-sanctions day, walking from Robert Mugabe Square — the open space behind the Harare International Conference Centre (HICC) — to the National Sports Stadium. This was the first time Zimbabwe observed the day, which was declared a public holiday.
The First Lady’s passion for the country’s economic emancipation through the lifting of sanctions left people, including Government ministers and members of the diplomatic corps awestruck.
Amai Mnangagwa’s participation in the march dovetailed with her speech on Thursday in which she urged women to make a stand against sanctions.
She said the illegal economic embargo was hitting hard, women and children, both living and unborn.
In an interview after the march, the First Lady shed tears while narrating how some rural girls were making do with cow dung as a substitute for sanitary pads owing to sanctions which have pushed prices beyond their reach.
“Zvirwere zvichabva mundove iyi no one knows, the girl child is suffering. I have been to various communities around the country, the challenges these communities are experiencing makes my heart bleed.
“What kind of life is this, where are we heading to as a country with this kind of life? We have suffered enough, sanctions must go now,” she said, while holding back her tears.
“The people of Zimbabwe have suffered, what wrong did we do to deserve this, if we committed a crime, then they should say it out. Pachivanhu chedu inga tinoti ngozi inopera nekuripwa. We are not fighting with America, but we are saying enough is enough, remove these illegal sanctions.”
In a statement on Thursday, the First Lady said: “As women, we are not engaged in any meaningful activities because of poor wages or complete absence thereof.
“This has affected our working experiences, making the majority of us full-time housewives, performing mostly household chores.
“Our children have nothing to do, putting to waste our investment in their education and literally killing their potential contribution to economic development.”
She described sanctions as a direct assault on the country, saying those who put the embargo wanted to invade the country and take away its resources to enrich themselves.
Amai Mnangagwa said as a result of sanctions, women were now giving birth in shacks, with untrained midwives, no equipment in hospitals and no medicines.
The wife to Chinese ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Guo Shaochun, Madam Wang Wei congratulated Zimbabweans for standing against sanctions.
“I want to congratulate Zimbabwe for standing against illegal sanctions imposed by the West. Women and children are also not spared from the effects of sanctions, and I want to commend the First Lady for leading women against such evils. We stand with you in this journey,” she said.
Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Deputy Minister Jennifer Mhlanga was full of praise for the position taken by the First Lady.
“The First Lady was marching right from the belly to show that she cares for the nation which is struggling due to the illegal sanctions.
“The march was a march to show that we want to defend our sovereignty.
“They have imposed illegal sanctions on this country, but we are a peaceful country, hardworking country, a country endowed with resources and hence we continue to be fought and violated by powerful countries that want to take our resources,” she said.
Said Women’s Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Minister Sithembiso Nyoni: “We want to thank our First Lady for leading the march. This really demonstrates her passion of the empowerment of women and youths.
“Women are suffering the most, especially those in the rural areas. These sanctions are not targeted, but are affecting the ordinary citizen. Zimbabwe deserves a chance to be itself, we don’t want these sanctions, they must go.”
Mashonaland Central Provincial Affairs Minister Monica Mavhunga was equally elated.
“Let me first thank the First Lady for mobilising churches for a national prayer at the State House, praying mainly against the illegal sanctions. The sanctions have caused untold suffering in this country, the people of Zimbabwe are suffering. Our First Lady is trying by all means to assist communities, especially women and children, introducing income-generating projects to counter the effects of these sanctions,” she said.
Cde Priscilla Charumbira, wife to president of the Chiefs Council Chief Fortune Charumbira, expressed gratitude to the SADC leadership for standing by Zimbabwe in her hour of need and said Amai Mnangagwa had led by example.
Representing women from various churches who marched with the First Lady, Reverend Dr Lucky Mutanga thanked the First Lady for leading them, and having the people of Zimbabwe at heart.