Tendai Rupapa Senior Reporter
Religious leaders have roundly praised First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa for mobilising resources and distributing food to the poor countrywide, and her tireless efforts to ensure everyone has access to information on Covid-19, which has killed thousands of people across the globe.
They expressed the sentiments at the City Sports Centre in Harare yesterday where the First Lady, who is the country’s health ambassador, met the elderly and the disabled, among many other groups of people, as she concluded her nationwide tour to conscientise citizens about Covid-19.
The First Lady has of late been holding interactive meetings with the elderly and rural communities to spread awareness on coronavirus and ways through which they can protect themselves from the pandemic.
She has, alongside her Angel of Hope Foundation, visited all provinces, including previously marginalised communities like the San in Plumtree where she distributed food, blankets, sanitisers and face masks, at the same time ensuring everyone had information on the pandemic.
Amai Mnangagwa has also mobilised resources like sanitising booths, sanitisers, detergents and face masks which she has handed over to hospitals and various communities.
Yesterday’s meeting came at a time when the country is facing an increase in confirmed Covid-19 cases owing to a number of factors, with the virus mainly being found among returning residents in isolation centres.
Daughters of Virtue leader Prophetess Memory Matimbire, said the First Lady’s nationwide visits demonstrated the importance of giving.
“Amai is teaching us on the power of giving,” she said.
“She is teaching us that the elderly and parents should be looked after, as this increases our days on earth. She is a blessed woman who leads by example.”
Reading from Acts 9 verse 36, Prophetess Matimbire likened the First Lady to the Biblical Tabitha, who was always doing good through helping the poor.
Pastor Evelyn Gaga from Hebron Art of Prayer said Christianity without benevolence and giving to the poor was meaningless.
She said praying without deeds was dead, adding that the First Lady was leading the way in doing good.
“Our mother has the nation at heart and she always joins us as churches in prayer,” said Pastor Gaga.
“Recently, we went with her to a prayer mountain in Mutoko where we spent the day praying against natural disasters and all calamities.
“We thank God for giving us a First Lady who has every citizen at heart. Christianity without benevolence and giving to the poor is meaningless and our mother shares what she has with everyone, including the poor.”
Madzimai Veronica Kwati from Johane Masowe Wechishanu-Jerusalem thanked the First Lady for her nationwide tours, teaching communities.
She said such engagements had been pivotal in improving knowledge about Covid-19 and better prepared communities.
“God has led us through the great works that are being done by the First Lady,” she said.
“In her teachings, she has handled issues that are affecting the people in this coronavirus era. There is domestic violence in the homes and she has implored the elderly to teach young couples to live in peace and harmony. The First Lady has taught us to give and we hope we will do the same with love.”
Yesterday’s interactive session showed that people still had a lot of misconceptions about Covid-19, as one participant said he believed the disease was manufactured to wipe out blacks.
“We heard that the disease was manufactured by whites to wipe away blacks,” said one elderly man, but the First Lady, corrected him saying: “That is wrong information Sekuru. This was not created by anyone because it is affecting everyone regardless of colour, creed or gender.”
Another participant, Mbuya Samantha Saka from Epworth, said Covid-19 was airborne.
“Chirwere ichi takanzwa kuti chinouya nemumhepo chine kamwe kaflavour kanozokuwadza vanhu,” she said, bringing the crowd into laughter.
Sekuru Esou Shonhiwa from Glen View said from the knowledge he had, the pandemic was water-borne.
The group was left in stitches after another participant said people risked contracting Covid-19 if they did not bath three times a day with hot water.
The First Lady corrected the participants’ perceptions by explaining the scientific knowledge behind Covid-19.
Another elderly man said people should not wear masks for fear of the police, but to protect themselves from the disease and follow all the teachings being given to save lives.
Amai Mnangagwa emphasised that communities must change the way they conduct themselves at funerals to prevent the spread of the disease.
She urged the elderly to be vigilant and avoid harbouring people escaping from quarantine centres.
“The infections are increasing here in Harare where numbers are shooting up,” said the First Lady.
“This could be because of our children who are running away from quarantine centres or even evading isolation.
“I urge you not to accept people who would have run away from quarantine and isolation centres so that we do not infect others. We look up to God and we must ask for divine protection and He will hear our prayers.
“I am encouraging you to constantly have health checks because some underlying conditions increase our susceptibility to the disease and you should continue taking your medication religiously.”
The First Lady spoke strongly against domestic violence, which has reared its ugly head during the lockdown period.
“Let us maintain peace,” she said. “The elderly must teach and preach peace and love to young couples. People must tolerate each other in homes.”
Elderly women were urged to be in good books with their daughters-in-law to curb discord in homes.
Amai Mnangagwa said the clean-up campaign was an ongoing issue which would be carried forward after Covid-19 and urged people to always maintain hygiene and keep their homes and surroundings clean.
She handed over an assortment of foodstuffs and toiletries to the elderly, the disabled and other people who attended yesterday’s interactive meeting.
Councillor Stewart Mutizwa representing Harare mayor Herbert Gomba, showered the First Lady with praises for her benevolence and care for the elderly and the poor.
“What has happened here is important for us as the people of Harare because helping the needy is not a function for one person,” he said.
“I want to thank you Your Excellency the First Lady for what you have done. I want to take one word from her Angel of Hope Foundation’s name that says hope.
“The First Lady has come to sow the seed of hope so that we may not be found wanting because of coronavirus. Here is hope and we are prepared to face tomorrow because she has given us tea, cooking oil, bathing soap, maize-meal for porridge and sadza, among other basics.
“The Bible says does one not feel good after doing good? She has made the giver and those who have been given happy. We want to thank you Amai for such a wonderful deed. Without love you cannot give and I thank you for the seed of love you have planted in people.”
Masimba Edenga (Vabvuwi) provided entertainment during the event, singing songs of praise and adoration.