A man of many roles

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LAST Wednesday presented the Zimbabwean public a rare glimpse of President Robert Mugabe’s often tight schedule as the country’s leader presided over three crucial national assignments in a single day.
The day started with President Mugabe having a meeting with newly appointed Southern African Development Community (SADC) Executive Secretary Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax at the Harare International Conference Centre (HICC).
The closed door meeting lasted close to an hour.
Immediately after the meeting, President Mugabe proceeded to launch the belated International Women’s Day at the same venue.
This time, the revered Zimbabwean leader took the roles of both a politician and mentor.
He spoke passionately about the need for the country to make concerted efforts to curb abuse of women and the girl child.
It was an emotional moment as several girls narrated to President Mugabe how they were sexually abused.
He lamented the fact that some parents sexually abuse their daughters as part of their rituals to make money.
“Taona vana vakapambwa, dzimwe nguva vanopambwa nehama dzimwe nguva nana baba zvichinzi mushonga, hatizivi kuti chii chirikumboitika,” said President Mugabe.
“… you have children who would have been abused, abused by the elders and in some cases by their fathers.
“A child of four months or three months.
“Murume unenge uchiti urikuitei?
“And then there are rapes of teenagers and rapes of grown-up persons, then even of vezera rangu nhai.
“Mbuya zvavo vakazvigarira.
“Kowashayayei?
“That is very bad.
“Takatoti naMai Mujuru (Vice President) kuti ah! ngatichiti veWomen’s League, veYouth League tose tonobatana nevemachechi tonobatana nemimwe misangano yekuti tipote tichiita misangano mumaprovince umu nekuunganidza vanhu kuti chava chii ichi.”
President Mugabe said Government could not carry this initiative alone.
“Hongu kuhurumende tingachinje zvedu mirawo tingaite mirawo yekupanicha vanhu vachienda kumajeri asi ndingakuudzei chokwadi kuti majeri anozara,” he said.
In his hour long speech, President Mugabe urged women to be wary of men saying they should not be trusted.
He said since the attainment of independence in 1980, his Government had set respect of the rights and roles of women in national development as one of its top priorities.
“The great strides made in improving women’s social standing were further enhanced and emphasised in the new constitution,” said President Mugabe.
“Soon after the country acquired independence in 1980, my Government embarked on a serious drive to eliminate gender discrimination.
“The establishment of a ministry that dealt with women’s issues was one of the steps we took to ensure that we achieve gender equality and empower our women economically, socially and politically,”
As a result of this drive by President Mugabe, Zimbabwe boasts of women who excelled politically, economically and academically with his Deputy, Amai Joice Mujuru becoming the first female Vice-President in Africa.
Other women who have made it in the political arena include, among others, Cde Oppah Muchinguri who is the Minister of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development, Dr Olivia Muchena, and 29-year-old ZANU PF Member of the House of Assembly Cde Tionei Melody Dziva who recently made history by becoming the youngest legislator to preside over a parliamentary session as Speaker this week.
President Mugabe, however, lamented the fact that women occupy only 32 percent and 48 percent of positions in the House of Assembly and Senate respectively.
Women, he said, should take advantage of opportunities presented to them by the new constitution.
To this end, Government has since amended several laws among them the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, which criminalises sexual offenses and wilful transmission of HIV, the Domestic Violence Act, the Administration of Estates Act, which protects women’s inheritance rights, and the Equal Pay Regulations which was popular during the colonial era.
In view of these strides, President Mugabe called upon Zimbabwean to continue with their globally renowned trait of hard work.
He thanked women for working hard for both their country and their families during difficult times saying their innovativeness had shamed the country’s detractors who claim that Zimbabwe’s unemployment rate was more than 70 percent.
“You will get them as far afield as Cape Town, kunanaMalaysia varikutengesa twunhu twavo, Thailand maihwe!, China, vanenge vachienda and when the situation is that tough they are the ones who save it,” President Mugabe said.
“Tinenge tichiseka zvedu tichinzwa varungu vachiti there is high unemployment rate.”
The International Women’s Day theme was ‘Equality for Women is Progress for All’, while Zimbabwe’s theme was ‘Celebrating Women’s Gains through Constitutional Provisions’.
Soon after the launch, President Mugabe proceeded to the ZANU PF Politburo meeting at the party headquarters.
The meeting started at 3pm and finished close to midnight.

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