First Lady’s stopgap projects not solution to poverty

As her husband needs to stop govt mismanagement and looting

Tendai Ruben Mbofana

Whenever I watch First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa going about her much state-media hyped supposed “philanthropic” work around Zimbabwe – usually so-called “empowerment projects” and handouts for the various disadvantaged sections of the population – I never fail imagining a rather disturbing scenario.

I imagine a gang of cold-hearted robbers – who go around the neighborhood, burglarizing people’s homes, stealing nearly everything in sight, and leaving their victims with virtually nothing.

Yet, the very next morning, the wives of these heartless house breakers visit their husband’s targets, donating food and other basic commodities to the clueless victims – who, without the slightest hint of who actually robbed them, regard these women as kind-hearted saviors and good Samaritans.

Surely, how else am I expected to think, especially, whenever I listen to the heart-wrenching stories of misery and suffering told by those impoverished Zimbabweans – whom the First Lady assists, through her organization, “Angel of Hope Foundation” – whose origins always go straight back to the doorstep of her own husband’s government, which is notorious for its economic mismanagement and high-level looting?

I honestly have no idea what truly motivates Mai Mnangagwa – whether it is genuine compassion for the poverty-stricken hapless people of Zimbabwe, or as some wives are known for doing, dousing the catastrophic flames caused by their husbands – however, there is one thing undeniably clear…all those recipients of her “philanthropic” work would not have been in that painful predicament, had the government, led her husband, done its job properly.

Indeed, in every country on this planet there will always be the poor – who desperately need assistance – in itself, a worrisome sign of a selfish world that does not care about the poor, since we have enough riches and food to provide each and every one of the 7.9 billion people on earth a decent livelihood.

Why would this not be extremely disturbing, considering that only one percent of the world population holds half of the global wealth.

However, that is all child’s play when compared to the disgraceful and shocking situation in Zimbabwe – which, quite frankly, borders on the evil and sadistic – whereby, over 7.9 million (of a 16 million population) live in extreme poverty (on less than US$1.90 a day), with 13.5 million living below the food poverty line, 3.5 million children described as chronically hungry, and 76.3% of children in rural areas in poverty.

Yet, this is the same country in which the then first lady, Grace Mugabe, could afford a 100 carat diamond ring worth more than US$1.35 million, and the few listed as being the richest in the country have questionable links to the ruling elite, and are involved in some dodgy dealings with the regime – whereby, US$15 billion of diamond sales could simply vanish into thin air, billions more in shadowy agricultural programs similarly disappearing, as well as so much more in dubious tenders.

Thus, it would not be surprising at all that the First Lady would have so many less privileged Zimbabweans to assist with so-called “empowerment projects” and handouts – including, commercial sex workers, the elderly, people with disabilities, wives of security forces personnel, women in general, and the girl child.

As much as the state-controlled media may try to spin this solely in the light of “philanthropic work” – the picture is far much deeper and bigger – as, why would so many people need to be “assisted”, is never earnestly dealt with.

Surely, is it just me, or there is something seriously unsettling about a country – ostensibly in ownership of bragging rights over the possession of some of the most eagerly sought-after precious natural resources in the world – yet, most of its citizenry wallow in extreme poverty, and subjected to the most horrendous sub-standard living conditions.

Are we to assume that all those diamonds, gold, platinum, tobacco – amongst a whole host of others – are not finding any buyers across the globe?

If so, where then did the US$15 billion in diamond sales – that mysteriously went missing – come from?

Zimbabwe is richly blessed and endowed – and, there is absolutely no reason at all for any one of us to be suffering as we are – even to the extent that we require the country’s First Lady to be doling out supposed “empowerment projects” and handouts (such as foodstuffs).

In a country, where the governing authorities fulfill their mandate as expected – we should all be quite capable of succeeding in our chosen careers and professions, without the need of any “empowerment projects” and handouts

Why should a prison offer need to rear chickens on the side, to supplement his income – if he had been earning enough in the first place?

Why would so many women be forced by dire economic circumstances to embark on the risky commercial sex business – if the economy had opportunities for all?

There is definitely something chillingly wrong with this picture – and ironically, the ball is squarely in the First Lady’s own husband’s court.

© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, and social commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263788897936 / +263733399640, or email: [email protected]

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