Freeman Razemba, Harare Bureau
First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa yesterday said the country can only achieve its national aspirations and developmental goals if the family unit is entrenched as the nucleus of all development initiatives.
She said family-oriented policies and programmes were essential to achieving greatness and the realisation of Vision 2030.
The First Lady said this during International Day of Families commemorations, held at Uzande Business Centre in Zvimba District. The day was being celebrated under the theme: “Families and Climate Action.”
“We should strive to leave no one behind, especially our widows, the elderly and people living with disabilities. Our initiatives should also take on board universally friendly tools such as sign language, braille and any other facilities that embrace everyone in our families and communities,” said Amai Mnangagwa.
She said the International Day of Families came at a time when the country was still recuperating from the devastating effects of Cyclone Idai which claimed the lives and properties of many Zimbabweans.
She said the most affected areas were Chimanimani, Chipinge, Bikita, Chiredzi, Gutu, Buhera and Zaka where lives were lost and families broken, while property was destroyed.
“These tragic events left us torn apart and decimated as a people. What has humbled us as a nation is the solidarity of not only our people but also that of the international community who have shown by deeds, great care and compassion in the spirit of Ubuntu.
“The generosity of the human family across the world has given consolation to the affected families and the nation at large. To them I say; ‘thank you very much’,” Amai Mnangagwa said.
She said the cyclone occurred at a time when the country was grappling with a multitude of economic and other natural disaster-induced challenges.
The First Lady said the current drought had placed an additional burden on the already over-stretched national resources.
“In difficult times such as these, we do, as we must, find time to reflect on the essentials things that we must do to prevent or mitigate the effects of the harsh situation we find ourselves in.
“I find the family unit as the critical pillar that we need in our resolve to overcome the current challenges we have and emerge as a prosperous middle-income economy by the year 2030,” she said.
Amai Mnangagwa said the family meets basic needs such as food, water and shelter and that the challenges being encountered daily were easier to handle when people don’t face them alone.
She said research has also proved that people who live as a family tend to live healthier lives and longer.
Amai Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe has over the years celebrated this International Day of Families as they believe that families drive societies which in turn drive the nation.
She said women and youths who constitute the largest percentage of the world’s poorest people were worst affected by the negative effect of climate change with visible effects being erratic harvests, acute food shortages and water scarcity for families and livestock.
“This negative scenario calls for gender mainstreamed urgent interventions to create and sustain resilient families which provide the most viable and effective platform for remedial action,” she said.
The First Lady applauded Government and its development partners for implementing effective climate change mitigation and adaption responses.
“The Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development is supporting various community projects in climate change adaption.
“These include promotion of solar energy and fuel efficient wood stores. Climate smart agriculture practices have been adopted by small holder farmers to produce high value produce thereby contributing to the reduction in poverty.
“I encourage that such initiative be expanded to all wards in the country. It is also encouraging that communities have been trained on water harvesting techniques which have facilitated market gardening.
“Increased investment in the construction of dams by Government is a move in the right direction and this has seen the completion of the Tokwe-Mukosi Dam and other dams,” said Amai Mnangagwa.
She called for more effort and resources to be channelled towards the construction of dysfunctional irrigation facilities dotted around the country.
The First Lady also called upon families and communities to preserve and grow plantations of indigenous trees for commercial purposes.
Amai Mnangagwa first planted a tree at the business centre before she toured some exhibition stands.
The ceremony was attended by Minister of State for Mashonaland West Mary Mliswa-Chikoka, Information and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa, Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Minister Dr Sithembiso Nyoni, Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Prisca Mupfumira, Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Ziyambi Ziyambi and other senior Government officials.