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Auxillia cashes in on national dress

Local News
The First Lady initiated the establishment of the national dress, culminating in its launch by President Emmerson Mnangagwa in 2020.

FIRST Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa is reportedly cashing in on proceeds from the sale of the national dress, which has become a common feature at State and Zanu PF functions.

The First Lady initiated the establishment of the national dress, culminating in its launch by President Emmerson Mnangagwa in 2020.

Auxillia set up committees for the various labels which in turn appointed Zanu PF and the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) as the principal retailers of the fabric, investigations revealed.

The investigations showed that the national fabric, now almost compulsory for civil servants and Zanu PF supporters, is also being sold at the First Lady’s offices.

Auxillia’s ally and Tourism and Hospitality Industry minister Barbara Rwodzi has been at the forefront promoting the national dress.

She inherited the Chirumanzu-Zibagwe constituency from Auxillia, who left the seat after she became First Lady in 2017.

According to investigations, the cloth is fetching US$4 a metre at the ZTA offices in Harare.

However, an average cloth sells for US$1,50 in shops, according to a snap survey conducted during investigations. The fabric is also being sold at the Zanu PF headquarters and Zimbabwe House.

Some of the prospective buyers who spoke to NewsDay queried the steep price of the national dress.

“Why should we be forced to spend US$4 per metre on a fabric when we can get similar material for much less?” a source, who chose to remain anonymous, said.

“This feels more like a money-making scheme than a genuine effort to promote national pride.”

When contacted for a comment, Rwodzi said: “Well, I am very busy right now. I am preparing to go to Nyanga. Contact my personal assistant.”

The personal assistant, identified only as Kudzai, however, refused to entertain questions.

Zanu PF director for information Farai Marapira, however, said the enthusiasm towards the national dress was overwhelming.

“There has been a very serious uptake of the national dress. We are seeing a lot of excitement in things to do with our nation. We are inundated with people who are looking for that dress since it’s the topic at hand,” Marapira said.

“The House of Cheneso does orders with the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority and within a week, it will be sold out.

“That is how serious the uptake of the national dress is.

“This is not a partisan dress. It is a dress for everyone. It’s about our national identity. It is not for Zanu PF people, but for every Zimbabwean.”

Marapira also confirmed that the dress was being sold by the government.

“What we only do as Zanu PF is we just take orders through our commercial House of Cheneso so that it is easier for our party members to access it. It’s just us as Zanu PF supporting a national initiative,” he said.

But he expressed uncertainty on who pockets the proceeds.

“I am not privy to what they do with the proceeds. I am not sure if they are working on a zero profit basis. The Ministry of Tourism will be the best to answer that question,” he said.

Informed sources from the Tourism ministry confirmed that the proceeds realised from the sale of the national fabric were allegedly going into Axillia’s coffers.

“That issue is sensitive, but we can only confirm that we were part of the consultations and we also became retailers with Zanu PF, although we understand the fabric will soon be available in shops,” one of the sources said.

However, NewsDay could not independently verify if the proceeds are exclusively going into Auxillia’s pockets as it is her brainchild.

Efforts to obtain comments from government officials were futile as Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare ministry secretary Simon Masanga redirected inquiries to the Public Service Commission.

However, attempts to reach the commission’s secretary Tsitsi Choruma for a comment were unsuccessful, with no response forthcoming despite multiple messages sent by this publication.

Zimbabwe had no national dress since independence in 1980.

In April 2020, the First Lady launched the national fabric in the capital after promoting it using Zanu PF structures.

It was endorsed by her husband, who said it would foster a sense of patriotism, national identity and sovereignty among Zimbabweans.

In 2021, Zanu PF legislators tried to use Parliament to impose Auxillia’s national dress on Zimbabweans.

They wanted Parliament to set aside a day per week or month, where all elected officials from across the political divide would be required to wear national dress colours.

However, the push did not find traction.

According to a report on research carried out by Simbarashe Chitima titled Negotiating National Identity in Post-Colonial Zimbabwe through a National Dress, the majority of Zimbabweans do not appreciate the significance of the dress.


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