FIRST LADY Auxillia Mnangagwa on Friday heard harrowing tales of moral decay in the country’s farming communities characterised by prostitution, drug abuse, early child marriages, lack of healthcare and family planning which resulted in the birth of many undocumented children.
In a no-holds barred interactive session with people living and working on farms like Impala Downs, Vana, Jenene, Binje, Green Valley, Chipiri and Chitatu, the First Lady learnt that people did not practice child spacing.
Amai Mnangagwa had visited Impala Downs farm compound to assist three-week-old twin girls whose mother died shortly after giving birth.
The deceased Sarudzai Muza (36) did not know that she was carrying twins because she did not visit the clinic regularly for checks and scan as per standard procedure.
She gave birth to the twins in a maize field and died few hours later leaving behind six children.
In their own words during the interactive meeting with the First Lady, the farm workers admitted that they hopped from one partner to the other without restraint, their children dropped out of school, abuse alcohol and drug and were disrespectful.
It is common in those farming communities for a man to impregnate a woman and her daughter.
Village health workers in the area told Amai Mnangagwa that the communities cared less to learn regarding HIV transmission.
They used to distribute condoms, but the communities did not want them such that they would give their children to play with as balloons.
« Amai we are happy that you are with us today and I pray that everyone here will tap into your wise counsel. Amai in this compound men and women hop from one partner to the other.
« They practice what we call ‘pick and drop’ and cases of mother-to-child transmission of HIV are high because the women do not go for health checks, » a health worker said.
So educative was the interactive session as the First Lady tackled delicate issues in a humorous way which left her audience eager to learn more.
Amai Mnangagwa is the country’s Health and Child Care ambassador.
« We want to put our heads together and see how we can preserve health and plan our families. We should practice protected sex and these are the issues the Ministry of Health and Child Care looks into. Men and women, it’s no longer a case of sleeping with anyone you meet, » she said.
« It is your job to protect yourself and your partner. Unprotected sex has many dangers like diseases and unplanned pregnancies. Cancers are also there. We must protect our families. When you take and leave a woman, you are spreading diseases and leaving children everywhere.
Mrs Ustina Zhou said in their compound girls aged between 12 years and 15 years were being targeted by older men.
« At work places, that is in the farms, some people in positions are taking advantage of women. All the women are being impregnated by the same men and women are no longer united as a result, » she said.
The First Lady who was disheartened by the alarming cases of moral decadence in the farming communities said elders must occupy their rightful places and help counsel children so that they grow up morally upright.
She also promised to unveil empowerment projects for members of the community to ensure they are gainfully engaged so that they may leave their bad ways and start on a clean page.
She urged them to come up with project ideas so that she would assist them through her Angel of Hope Foundation.
« Tikaita maprojects vana mai zvinotidzidzisa kushandisa maoko, kubatana, makuhwa neruvengo zvinoita zvishoma uye pfungwa dzekuita zvakashata dzinotiza. Naizvozvo isai misoro pamwechete mufunge maprojects amungada kuita, » she said.
The mother of the nation promised to have people at the compound and other surrounding compounds screened for cancer, HIV and other ailments so that if need be, they can be commenced on treatment early to ensure a higher survival rate.
« I will bring my Angel of Hope Foundation’s mobile clinic for everyone to be checked for diseases, including HIV. With that mobile bus, I am actually bringing a hospital here. Do not run away from screening so that you know where you stand. Let us start a new life here at Impala Downs compound, » she said to wild applause.
Mrs Urita Hunda from Chenene farm said parents were partly to blame for their children’s wayward behaviour.
She said the children were copying from their parents who were bringing different partners everyday at home while the children watched.
She further pleaded with the First Lady to introduce her Nhanga/Gota/Ixiba programme forthwith.
The First Lady disapproved of any love relationships among children and those involving adults and young girls.
« Look at your ages. We cannot lock you in the home. What do you want from men at a young age? Do you know that you may fall pregnant and affect your education, while you may also contract sexually transmitted diseases. I have seen many pregnant girls here who are under age. Mothers, aunts and uncles you must teach our children. As a mother you are now a grandmother and aunt to your children, » she said.
Amai Mnangagwa said it was disheartening to learn that some mothers were pushing their daughters into prostitution in the quest for soap, bread and other things of little value.
« There is nothing for free on your bodies, Hapana chemahara pamuviri wako mwanasikana. Muviri wako wakasiyana nemazhanje kana hacha. A woman’s body is the Lord’s temple. Girls are precious and if you do not keep yourself pure you shame yourself, » she said.
Mrs Shingirai Mapungwana rose from the crowd and told the First Lady that children were dropping out of school at tender ages and ended up engaging in mischief as part of escapism.
« Parents are not sending children to school and that is where the problem begins. When a child is sent to buy opaque beer, he comes back tasting it on the way. When a child is sent to light a cigarette, he comes back puffing it. When a child is sent by her mother to a boyfriend, she feels tempted to follow suit.
« As a starting point, let us send these young children to school. When they are in school, teachers will never teach them to have lovers at that young age. The problem is us the parents, » she said.
Mapungwana pleaded with the First Lady to visit the compound again unexpectedly to see for herself the social decay in the compound.
In response, the First Lady said parents should teach their children good morals and values.
The community spoke out against corrupt police officers who were letting off criminals in exchange for money.
« When someone commits rape, we are startled when they are not arrested. Once someone rapes, we no longer want them in communities for fear of having our little children raped. »
The First Lady said it was unfair to paint all the cops with one brush and urged the community to get the bad apple in the force reported.
Mr Raken Maguranyanga voiced concern over the way some women dressed saying it was inappropriate.
Families at Impala Downs farm compound and those from surrounding compounds now have hopes of a brighter future thanks to the First Lady’s visit which marked the beginning of a new life.
They are poised for great change and a chance to set foot on the train of development
The interactive session was held in tandem with World Health Organisation (WHO) rules of masking up, sanitising and observing social distancing to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Amai Mnangagwa was accompanied by Mashonaland West Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Mary Mliswa-Chikoka and Mhangura legislator, Precious Chinhamo-Masango.