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Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development Deputy Minister Abigail Damasane (right) showcases her beading skills during an Africa Day women empowerment exhibition in the Harare Gardens yesterday

Fungai Lupande Herald Reporter
Women from various walks of life yesterday hailed President Mugabe as an epitome of women empowerment, an icon and bold leader and urged other African countries to take lessons from the African Union chairperson.The women were exhibiting various African wares in the Harare Gardens to mark Africa Day courtesy of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development.

Director of the Women Affairs Department in the ministry Mrs Thecla Madziwa said it was not a mistake for President Mugabe to be selected as chairperson of the AU.

“He is someone who is leading by example,” she said. “Today we are showcasing the degree of empowerment and development that our President has taken us to.

“All the exhibitors here are women who are showcasing their work. We are moving away from projects into business. On Thursday last week we held a clean-up campaign, as mothers we are not only focusing on resources people know, but we are turning trash into cash.”

Tripple Plus Jewellery (Pvt) Ltd managing director Mrs Melody Siziba, who was also exhibiting her wares, described President Mugabe as an icon and a role model.

“I am so happy to exhibit my work today on Africa Day,” she said. “My President is the one who set up the empowerment drive and today I am doing my own things.

“We have a real African leader and today we are going to help him spread Africanism. We are proud of him and we will support him. Why? Because he uplifted women.

“He is apolitical when dealing with issues affecting us as Africans. Because of him we don’t fear to venture into any business.”

A jeweler with Sastelia Jewellers, Mrs Stelia Phiri, also described President Mugabe as a man with a bold character.

“It is because of his boldness that we as women also became bold,” said Mrs Phiri. “The jewellery industry is male dominated, but look at us now. In Zimbabwe we don’t have jewellery hardware and as women we want to be the first to open such (shops).”

Mrs Sally Paka, also a jeweller, said they sell hand-made gold and silver jewellery.

“Our products are 100 percent genuine gold and silver,” she said. “In line with Zim-Asset, we are doing value addition here in Zimbabwe.”

Farmwise Kitchen head chef Mrs Norah Kadema said they were happy to have been empowered because of President Mugabe’s efforts.

“We specialise in traditional food,” she said. “We don’t throw away food, but give it to the needy. Our aim is to provide nutritious food to Zimbabweans.”

Mrs Erica Takaendesa-Chikoore, who was exhibiting textiles, showered praises on President Mugabe.

“It is so important that as we celebrate this Africa Day we recognise the AU chairmanship of our President,” she said.

President Mugabe has been emphasising on beneficiation, empowerment and economic emancipation of fellow Africans since he took over the AU chairmanship early this year.

He has also been to several countries where he preached peace and unity and recently oversaw the signing of a peace agreement between the Malian government and Tuareg rebels.

The peace process which culminated in the signing of the deal was being spearheaded by the AU under close supervision by President Mugabe.