By Buhle Tshavango
The ushering in of a new era witnessed the coming in of our new first lady Auxilia Mnangagwa, she takes over a tainted title and has the awkward task of winning hearts by proving herself a worthy ‘Amai’ – here is what we know about her.
Born on March 25, 1963 in Mazowe District in Mashonaland Central Auxilia Mnangagwa is said to be the third wife of the President, having been married after his second wife Jane Tongogara, sister to the late Josiah Tongogara. Details of the first wife are sketchy with some arguing that Mnangagwa had only two wives.
The first lady now comes under public scrutiny as a relatively unknown figure although she has been active on the political scene, however on a low profile.
Besides being the first lady Auxilia Mnangagwa is also the member of Parliament for Chirumanzu Zibabgwe constituency a seat which she ‘inherited’ from her husband after his promotion to Vice President when she ran unopposed in the Zanu-PF primary elections after two other contestants pulled out of the elections for unrevealed reasons.
Her entrance into Parliament faced many hurdles as her initial submission to represent Zanu-PF in Mazowe Central was declined by the party’s Mashonaland Central Provincial Coordinating Committee.
She worked at the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) between 1992 and 1997, and although it is said that she has been married to the President for 31 years, it is alleged that she was actually deployed to monitor her husband’s movements.
In July 2017 she made headlines after she issued a seven-day ultimatum to Zanu-PF Midlands provincial chairman Cde Jason Machaya, Douglas Kanengoni and Kudakwashe Bhasikiti challenging them to produce evidence defending a US$50 million defamation lawsuit she was suing them after being implicated in a vote-rigging scandal. In this case, the first lady declared that she was worth USD $10 million by virtue of being among other things wife to a career minister.
Similarities with Dr Amai
Transmission of power
After failing to stand as MP in her own right, representing Mazowe central Auxilia Mnangagwa ‘inherited’ power from her husband who had been MP for Chirumanzu for more than three decades. Her win came after the falling out of candidates from her own party and MDC’s boycott of the elections leaving her to compete against Good People’s Movement, Transform Zimbabwe, National Constitutional Assembly and an independent candidate.
Auxilia Mnangagwa has worked with female prison officers and spouses of male prison officers in income generating projects. After winning her seat in the Central Committee in 2009, she helped in the setting up of a community bank in Chirumanzu called the Cheese Bank. She has been very instrumental in establishing women’s banks in areas such as Zhombe, Zibagwe and Chirimanzu among other centres In 2013, Mnangagwa has also launched a women’s bank in Mvuma with the assistance of Small and Medium Enterprises and Cooperative Development ministry.
Ironically, in December 2014 Minister of State for Mashonaland West Provincial Affairs Cde Faber Chidarikire came under fire for referring to Auxilia Mnangagwa as acting first lady, during an event where she was guest of honour at a time where her husband was acting President. Chidarikire was lambasted for boot licking, as the First Lady’s position is not a constitutional post where there can be an acting first lady.
Her Excellency First lady Auxilia Mnangagwa faces the task of becoming the ‘ideal’ role model of a cultured mother of the nation who leaves Presidential issues to the President.