BY SILAS NKALA
EXILED former Ntabazinduna chief Nhlanhlayamangwe Felix Ndiweni has advised First Lady Auxilia Mnangagwa to respect local cultural norms and values during her planned visit to Ntabazinduna for a men’s engagement programme.
The First Lady is conducting men’s engagement programmes to interrogate health issues affecting men and enhance their involvement in efforts to curb domestic violence, drug abuse and child marriages among other challenges.
On Tuesday, she was in Bulawayo to meet men at the Large City Hall and is set to visit Ntabazinduna on Saturday.
In a petition dated June 12 directed to Matabeleland North provincial development coordinator Sithandiwe Ncube and copied to Umguza district development coordinator Tapiwa Zivovoyi, Ndiweni appreciated the First Lady’s planned visit to Ntabazinduna, but said she must respect their local culture.
“The elders and village heads informed me that the First Lady is to visit Ntabazinduna on June 18. She is welcome. Her last visit was on November 9, 2018 when she launched a supplementary feeding programme for vulnerable children on food insecurity,” Ndiweni wrote.
“I bring this matter up with the hope that the First Lady’s visit does not become political. With respect to customs, traditions, practises and norms, the seat of the government of Zimbabwe in communal lands, is the chief‘s residence.”
“Customs and traditions dictate that such guests must enter the chief’s residence and greet the occupants. For he/she would not only be greeting the incumbent chief but also availing themselves to the chiefs who are gone, and so it is more than symbolic.”
Ndiweni said during her last visit to Ntabazinduna, the First Lady donated tonnes of corn soya blend porridge at Khayisa Clinic, an event which he attended together with Chief Ndondo of Mbembesi, and Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs minister Richard Moyo.
In the petition, Ndiweni also expressed concern over two secondary schools in the area that have recorded highest number of teenage pregnancies.
“Under-age teenage girls are becoming pregnant, dropping out of school, having health issues, entering toxic relationships that do not conform to our customs and traditions. It is for this reason that we welcome the First Lady.”
“The current economic challenges and lack of employment exacerbates the issue of the girl child. Customs and traditions are not advancing the notion of early marriages but rather are there to support the immediate family and indeed the extended family,” Ndiweni wrote.
He said he and other traditional leaders advanced the idea of establishing a locally-based committee involving traditional leaders, churches, faith groups, civic groups, police and various civic organisations to fight the vice.
Ndiweni said the First Lady’s willingness to fight the vice was appreciated.
Ncube is yet to respond to the petition.
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