Tendai Rupapa Senior Reporter

Covid-19 is far from over and citizens should guard against complacency and help stem the surge in deaths and infections, First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa said yesterday when visiting Budiriro in Harare.

She urged people not to harbour returning residents evading quarantine centres, adding that it was not wise to certify someone fit judging by their physical appearance as this could land the nation in serious trouble.

Amai Mnangagwa was invited to Budiriro by people of several religious and political persuasions in the community.

The mother of the nation attends to every citizen’s needs despite their political or religious affiliation and her visit to Budiriro yesterday was no ordinary affair, with choral groups entertaining guests and praising the First Lady for her wonderful works.

The elderly could not resist the urge to take to the dance floor, torching an electric atmosphere.

First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa hands over food hamper, soap and water disinfectant to gogo Tabeth Masimo during her interactive COVID 19 awareness campaign with the elderly, disabled and vulnerable in Budiriro, Harare yesterday. Picture John Manzongo

“Ndiri mai vemunhu wese. Amai havasarudze vana, amai vanobatanidza mhuri, amai vanonyaradza vana uye amai havatarise kuti mwana abva kupi. We should work together in peace,” she said.

“We have a serious challenge that some people are using their eyes to assess the health of relatives coming from the Diaspora. Instead of taking these people to quarantine centres, we are now harbouring them in our homes.

“By so doing, we are spreading the disease. Let us refrain from such practices and adhere to health guidelines. We must promote good health by saying ‘you protect me as I also protect you — Ndidzivirire ini ndigokudzivirirawo’.

“This means we must use face masks religiously,” said the First Lady.

Speaking largely in Shona for the benefit of her audience, the First Lady said her visit to Budiriro was in response to an invitation extended by residents of the populous suburb.

Amai Mnangagwa is the country’s health ambassador and has traversed the length and breadth of the country, teaching both rural and urban dwellers on how they can prevent Covid-19 infection.

Zimbabwe has not been spared by Covid-19 as so far over 200 people have succumbed to the pandemic, though many others have recovered.

Her visit to Budiriro comes at a time when the country is under lockdown, making it difficult for the vulnerable to put food on the table, hence her intervention.

“You wrote to me requesting assistance with food. The invitation letter had hundreds of names which showed you really wanted me to come, hence my visit. I shall use this opportunity to discuss about Covid-19,” she said.

The First Lady implored all residents of Harare to follow health regulations, amid reports that the capital city was now the epicentre of Covid-19.

She also took time to urge the elderly to switch to their traditional roles of counselling and imparting youths with knowledge for a brighter future.

“My biggest question is what do you look forward to from your grandchildren? The way they are dressing is against our culture as Zimbabweans.

“Some of them are spending a lot of time on WhatsApp and on the phone without performing household chores. What sort of inheritance are you bequeathing in these youths? The late music legend John Chibadura urged us to teach our children so that they learn. Chibadura akaenda ataura kuti ‘rairai vana venyu kuti vagokura vachiziva’. Isu tose tine basa guru sevabereki,” she said.

Now that schools are about to reopen, the First Lady said it was disheartening that a good number of girls might not return to school because they fell pregnant during the lockdown.

“I urge you girls to be responsible. Look after yourselves because once you fall pregnant, the boy will run away and get yet another girl to play with and he will impregnate a lot of girls. Despite this, the boy will continue with his education while you suffer with the pregnancy and other diseases.

“Girls, we must look after ourselves and proceed with education. Vasikana ndinokurudzira kuti muzvichengetedze nekuzvikoshesa nekuti humhandara idamba kamwe. The girl child must stay in school for a brighter future.”

She also voiced concern over reports that some vehicles used to ferry food were being used to transport dead bodies across the borders.

“Let us understand that once the death is Covid-19-related that food will be harmful by the time it reaches us. When we bury the body, we risk contracting the disease. Tava kuchengeta avo vanenge vashaya muchivande, zvazoitika ipapo kupararira kweCovid-19,” she said.

She also decried the activities of pirate taxis which were offering intercity services without observing regulations like the wearing of masks.

“We huddle together in pirate taxis where some of us will not be wearing masks to cover our mouths and nose. People cough in these vehicles as some will be having flu while the windows will be closed. Everyone must have a clean mask to protect them from the disease,” she said.

She also spoke strongly against domestic violence cases which are increasing during the current lockdown period.

“Why don’t we take advantage of the current lockdown period to sit down as families and seek ways to use our hands productively instead of stressing each other daily? This can only be possible if you put your heads together and come up with business ideas. We must also keep our homes clean,” she said.

The mother of the nation said there was need to eat healthy and encouraged families to grow traditional crops like sorghum, groundnuts, pumpkins and cowpeas.

“Kudya kwakanaka haisi sugar, mafuta kana margarine chete, asi ngationei kuti pasina cooking oil panei, pasina hupfu panei? Vana mbuya nana sekuru tinoziva kuti kareko kwaidyiwa sadza rezviyo nemiriwo yakasiyana-siyana,” she said.

The elderly, both men and women, took turns to name traditional meal recipes they know, much to the amusement of the First Lady.

In cases where breastfeeding mothers contracted Covid-19, the First Lady urged them to continue giving the infants healthy food, wash their hands and wash their breasts before breastfeeding the children.

MDC-Alliance legislator for Budiriro, Costa Machingauta, thanked the First Lady for her visit to his constituency and strengthened the message of togetherness and peace.

“I am happy to be here to witness the elderly being given food. I could have been in Hurungwe, but I could not travel because of this occasion.

“We lost the MP for Kuwadzana (Miriam Mushayi) who is being buried in Hurungwe today (yesterday). I saw it fit to be part of this occasion which is benefiting the elderly in this area. We want to thank Amai Mnangagwa for extending her giving hand, May God bless her,” he said.

MDC-A Councillor for Ward 33, Joseph Kunashe, was also grateful for the First Lady’s visit, stressing the need for citizens to work together.

“We really appreciate her visit and wish this spirit continues of working together. She is everyone’s mother hence she is also our mother and we are her children. We are grateful,” he said.

Mbuya Tabeth Masimo praised the First Lady for accepting their invitation and giving them foodstuffs.

“I never thought the First Lady would visit this community and share with us information on how to prevent coronavirus which is wreaking havoc across the globe. This is something I never thought would happen and she gave us vital lessons and food to keep us alive.”

Mbuya Epiphania Chiro was also thankful for the First Lady’s teachings.

“She touched on the very important subject of domestic violence. She also counselled young girls to keep away from sexual relationships which destroy their education and their future.

“This is something we must applaud because she understands and identifies with problems affecting families,” she said. It was all smiles as the elderly, the disabled and other vulnerable groups walked back home carrying an assortment of food and toiletries that included maize-meal, rice, cooking oil, sugar, tea, water guard and laundry soap.