Zimbabwe: First Lady Takes Male Engagement to Churches

LINET Mhusi lies helplessly in her hospital bed with a black eye and bandaged swollen head.

She has been in the medical facility for close to three days with no one visiting her, even though she has been married to Peter for close to a decade.

Their neighbours say violence has become consistent with the couple that barely a week passes without reports of them fighting.

But Linet and Peter are not the only ones who have gained notoriety for fighting even in public spaces.

Violence is blamed for the collapse of countless marriages globally, leading to drug abuse, teen pregnancies and a surge in bad behaviour among children due to parental care.

To curb this and sow the seeds of love and unity in families, First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa recently launched a male engagement programme for men across religious denominations in Masvingo as part of her mission to find lasting solutions to challenges affecting families countrywide.

In a bid to leave no one behind, the programme has been extended to churches so that they act as torch bearers in their respective homes and communities.

She said she would take the programme to other provinces.

A village headman contributes his views during a male engagement forum that was organised by First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa in Masvingo.

This comes at a time when the country is grappling with an increase in cases of drug abuse among youths, teen pregnancies and early marriages.

Children were also dressing badly and not respecting elders in line with the country’s norms and values.

In keeping with the country’s patriarchal rules, Dr Mnangagwa sought permission from chiefs and men to address them.

“Kindly allow me to stand before you as heads of households. In line with our tradition, women respect men. We are worshippers, therefore we are not expected to engage in violence in the home. There is peace in the church which also brings peace and unity in families, communities and in the country. Let us always remain in the Lord’s presence, follow the Bible and its teachings.

“In some of the provinces i visited, i heard that men in the homes are stressing their wives, physically abusing them, treating them as slaves and children are being married off at tender-ages. Some girls are denied the opportunity to pursue their education like boys. We kindly ask you men to place us in our rightful position as mothers so that we work together in raising the family.

But when given our positions as women, let us not try to rule men. We should always remain submissive and even the Bible tells us so. In churches, men must be torch-bearers so that children are not married off young.

“Let us protect the girl child. I ask that there be communication in the home because once this lacks, violence ensues. As husbands and wives, how is your relationship in the home? How are you staying with your children? Are you getting long well? Are you respecting one another?

Are you children respecting parents? Is the way children are living today acceptable? Who watches over the family. Ndiyani Nharirire Yemusha?.

The questions elicited a lot of responses with discussants raising different views.

An elderly woman said women watched over homes while men are at work hence was the nharirire.

Iyasa drama and dance group members perform a play depicting the effects of gender-based violence during a male engagement forum organised by First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa in Masvingo.

“It is the mother because she superintends over what happens at the home since the husband spends more time at work. Women define homes,” she said.

Mr Juniel Mazvihwa differed with this view.

“Both men and women watch over their families because they assist one another. They are all nharirire yemisha (household guardians),” he said.

Village head Tirivuno Matereke insisted that men were heads of households.

While another woman responded saying musha mukadzi (a woman is the essence of the household).

The First Lady stressed the need for men to provide for their families, for women to also work using their hands and for men to undergo regular health checks, amid reports that most men did not want to visit hospitals even when sick.

They only present for treatment when their cases deteriorate and this compromises their recovery rate.

She implored on the need for families to communicate fully and resolve differences amicably.

Amai Mnangagwa also urged men to allow their spouses to venture into income generating projects in order to compliment each other and bring peace in the home.

The First Lady said: “I thank you all vanababa (fathers). I shall go around the country communicating with men from various churches.”

At the venue there was the Angel of Hope Foundation’s mobile clinic and various health posts assisting the mobile clinic to screen men of prostate cancer while women were being screened of cervical and breast cancer among other ailments for free.

There were also officials offering voter registration services including processing birth certificates and national identity cards.

All the people who attended went home with smiles after receiving food hampers and fruit trees from the mother of the nation.

Iyasa drama and dance group members perform a play depicting the effects of gender based violence during a male engagement forum organised by First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa in Masvingo. Pictures: — John Manzongo.

Bulawayo based arts group IYASA provided edutainment on the effects of gender based violence.


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