THE Zimbabwe Council of Chiefs has come out in full support of First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa’s Covid-19 awareness programmes and efforts to end gender-based violence tearing families apart.
In an interview on the sidelines of the First Lady’s visit to Masvingo province on Thursday last week, president of the Chiefs Council, Chief Fortune Charumbira, said Amai Mnangagwa’s intervention could not have come at a better time.
The First Lady, who is the country’s health ambassador, is leading from the front mobilising resources like sanitisers, personal protective equipment, food and blankets for the elderly, war veterans and other vulnerable groups.
She has also been touring all corners of the country making sure everyone has access to information on how best they can protect themselves from the pandemic.
During her teachings, she also touches on domestic violence, which has increased during this lockdown period.
After concentrating on rural areas, the First Lady is now visiting urban areas and has so far been to Harare, Manicaland, Gweru and Masvingo. Chief Charumbira said all the work being done by the First Lady and her Angel of Hope Foundation was timely considering the recent spike in local transmissions.
He also spoke against border jumping, domestic violence and child marriages.
“The increase in Covid-19 positive cases is mainly in urban areas, hence the need to intensify awareness and preparedness to combat the deadly virus and our mother is doing exactly that.
“Covid-19 is a new phenomenon which people did not know, but that it kills and they now understand. For people to believe, it calls for the intervention of a mother. People listen more to mothers and they are now taking this disease more seriously because of the First Lady’s involvement, thanks to her countrywide awareness campaigns,” he said.
Chief Charumbira added that the First Lady was also sowing the seed of love and giving.
“The First Lady is teaching people the need to assist others. It’s akin to the Zunde Ramambo concept where you give the poor anything you have, even groundnuts. By giving to the vulnerable communities like she is doing, she is reminding those who are privileged to assist the poor. Extending a hand to the poor is one of the legacies Amai is giving the people of Zimbabwe,” he said.
On border jumping, Chief Charumbira said people were illegally crossing from South Africa to spend time with their families who sometimes did not report them to police.
“People are skipping the border from South Africa and come to their homes without being reported. In my area, a certain woman actually followed her husband to a quarantine centre demanding his release.
“This man was a border jumper and neighbours reported him to the authorities since his family had not reported him. He was then taken to a quarantine centre and his wife followed him there,” he said.
“These people want to be with their families, but the First Lady is encouraging them to be tested first. Amai is saying this does not mean the marriage would have ended, but it is a preventative measure to stem the spike in cases.”
The traditional leader praised Amai Mnangagwa’s intervention to fight the increase in cases of domestic violence countrywide.
“What the First Lady said about domestic violence is true. People are now spending more time together now due to the current lockdown unlike in the past and they are not used to staying together that much. Cases of domestic violence are now much higher than before this pandemic came into existence. As chiefs, we should act swiftly to stop the trend and we urge people to report to the police,” he said.
Chief Charumbira said more still needed to be done to nip domestic violence in the bud.
The traditional set up frowned upon child marriages and always made sure perpetrators were brought to book.
His sentiments were echoed by Masvingo Provincial Affairs Minister Ezra Chadzamira and Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare deputy minister Lovemore Matuke who also attended the programme.
Minister Chadzamira said the surge in infections came amid reports that people were escaping from quarantine centres, especially in Masvingo.
Said Minister Chadzamira: “We want to thank the wonderful acts being done by the First Lady to bring awareness to the citizenry so that they may not contract Covid-19.
“Our province of Masvingo is vulnerable because of its proximity to the South African and Mozambican borders where there are high numbers of those affected by Covid 19. There is also a high number of border jumpers. This education that she is giving helps ensure this pandemic does not spread.”
Deputy Minister Matuke thanked the First Lady for her non-partisan approach and care for vulnerable communities.
“Her name will forever be on every citizen’s mouth because of her love for everyone regardless of one’s political affiliation or religion. She welcomes everyone from different backgrounds. As social welfare, we are also grateful as she is taking care of the vulnerable societies. Her foundation is indeed touching lives and giving communities hope,” he said.