BY SHARON SIBINDI/RICHARD MUPONDE
ZIMBABWEAN widows are losing property to in-laws after the death of their spouses due to lack of knowledge on inheritance and property rights issues, First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa, has said.
In a statement read on her behalf by Local Government deputy minister Jennifer Mhlanga in Bulawayo on Monday, the First Lady said her office was inundated with calls from women reporting inheritance and property right disputes.
“I came up with this programme of interfacing with you on this issue. The overall objective of this programme is to engage widows, widowers and women in general, raise awareness on inheritance and property rights issues,” she said. “The engagement is to find common ground and possible points for interventions to mitigate the crisis faced by women and children in as far as rights to inheritance and property rights are concerned and also to empower through impartation of knowledge.”
The First Lady observed that many women are not conversant with inheritance and property rights issues and lose out when their spouses die.
“They are losing a lot of wealth and properties they are entitled to due to lack of knowledge,” she said.
Bulawayo Metropolitan Affairs minister Judith Ncube asked women at the meeting to write down all the burning questions which she would forward to the First Lady.
“I see there are a lot of questions that need to be answered. Can you write down the questions and bring them to my office and we will take them forward,” she said.
In another matter, Bulilima West legislator Dingumuzi Phuthi (Zanu PF) has hailed the First Lady for setting up an irrigation scheme for the San people in Plumtree.
He said the scheme, which is close to the border with Botswana, would improve villagers’ livelihoods since they have been living in abject poverty.
The First Lady promised to install a solar-powered irrigation scheme during her visit to Plumtree last year, and the equipment arrived two weeks ago and officials from the Department of Irrigation have already set it up.
“She has surprised us as a community. The fact that she’s the second senior official in the country after the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo to visit the area and extend her hand to us makes us know that we belong to this country,” Phuthi said.
Through her charity foundation, Angel of Hope, Auxillia visited the Makhulelela, a predominantly San community about 120km from Plumtree as part of her nationwide tours to meet marginalised communities and improve their livelihoods.
She recently also visited the Doma people of Mashonaland Central where she opened a health centre and boreholes which she facilitated.