Tendai Rupapa in VICTORIA FALLS
Traders at Zambezi Art and Craft Cooperative in Victoria Falls yesterday were paid an unexpected visit by First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa, who viewed their craftwork and bought some items as part of her efforts to promote their business, which is reliant on tourists and has been hit by Covid-19 lockdowns.
The First Lady, who has a passion for women empowerment, paid special attention to the women in art and craft business, encouraging them during her tour of their market.
For traders at the busy market, the encounter with the mother of the nation will for a long time be etched in their minds.
Chairperson of the female traders Mrs Lambani Ncube was exceptionally pleased by the First Lady’s visit and her encouragement for women to use their hands.
“We are a group of women who started doing this business way back and up to now we are still going strong,” she said. “We started by making doilies and we have now moved to wood artefacts and printed cloths. We also have an assortment of goods, including hand-crafted necklaces and earrings. We are so overjoyed to have been paid a visit by the mother of the nation and her desire to see us achieve in life as women.”
In the history of the market, this was the first time any First Lady had visited, mixing and mingling with traders and buying from their market.
One of the traders, Mrs Tsitsi Banda, could not hide her joy and said: “We are happy to have been paid a visit by the First Lady during this difficult time of Covid-19. We felt relieved that she came to see the artefacts we sell.
“We at least got something today because ever since the coronavirus-induced lockdown started, we have not been getting customers. We routinely come here to sit without enjoying any sales, but today Amai promoted us all by buying at least an item from each one of us.
“It is indeed a blessing. We were overjoyed when she came. We want to thank her for remembering us at such a difficult time.”
Mrs Banda’s colleague Mrs Siyani Sibanda echoed similar sentiments.
“I was happy to see the First Lady ‘live and direct’ today,” she said with a broad smile. “We also spoke to her one-on-one as she shared with us important information on economic empowerment and financial literacy. I was also happy with the support she gave us as a women cooperative just because we were confined to our homes because of Covid-19.
“Today we shall put food on our tables at home because she has put her hand where we work and blessed us.”
During the visit, the First Lady spoke to men and women who earn their living from art and crafts so she had first-hand information on their concerns while at the same time, urging them to continue working hard.
So passionate about the welfare of Zimbabweans is the First Lady that she routinely stops to chat and view items on sale and buy, thus promoting their businesses.
During the visit, Amai Mnangagwa was accompanied by Local Government and Public Works Deputy Minister, Marian Chombo, and Bulawayo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister, Judith Ncube.