First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa yesterday burst into tears in front of multitudes of Zanu PF supporters at a rally as her husband, President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced her immediate stepping down as Chirumanzu-Zibabwe legislator.
By Stephen Chadenga
There was deafening silence as the people appeared shocked by the announcement and many looked sombre and downcast as the first lady struggled to stem flowing tears with party chairperson, Environment minister Oppah Muchinguri Kashiri consoling her.
Mnangagwa said his wife was quitting her seat as MP for the constituency with immediate effect to concentrate on her role as first lady.
As it dawned on him that his announcement had unsettled the rally, Mnangagwa asked his wife and the people to calm down and not turn the rally into “a funeral”.
Mnangagwa told the rally held at Mvuma stadium that his wife preferred to concentrate on her role as mother of the whole nation and not just a particular constituency.
“She said she could not be Amai Mnangagwa for Chirumanzu-Zibagwe but that she should be the mother of the nation,” Mnangagwa said.
“So we agreed with Amai Mnangagwa that she should step down as MP here. She is stopping being MP from today (yesterday) onwards and she becomes the mother of the nation. She is now MP everywhere she goes.”
Mnangagwa said Zanu PF supporters should choose another candidate to replace the first lady.
He, however, assured people in the constituency that Auxillia had not abandoned them by the decision as she would come back to support projects she helped start in the constituency.
“She said she could not say it [stepping down] herself and asked me to say these words. We should not be saddened by this decision but we should be happy that she [first lady] has had added responsibilities on her shoulder,” Mnangagwa said.
Soon after the announcement, a group of women from the ruling party, wailed in front of the VIP podium with some throwing themselves on the ground.
The visibly emotional first lady told journalists on the sidelines of the rally that she was touched by the response from the women on her decision to resign as MP.
“I am really hurt seeing the women crying,” she said.
In a by election in March 2015, Auxillia retained the Chirumanzu-Zibagwe seat previously held by her husband who also stepped down after being appointed vice-president by former president Robert Mugabe.
Muchinguri-Kashiri said people were really shocked that the First Lady was stepping down and that Auxillia could also not hold back tears on seeing the reaction of her supporters.
“Women came from all over crying and throwing themselves down. Obviously, people didn’t want her to resign,” Muchinguri-Kashiri told The Standard last night.
“People were giving testimonies of many things that she did to the constituency. You could see that people were hurt and we ended up saying she must continue visiting them and keeping in touch with the group that she worked with. We said she must not abandon them,” Muchinguri said.
Since the elevation of her husband, Auxillia has embarked on a whirlwind tour visiting health institutions, meeting disadvantaged people, especially children, orphans and engaging in other philanthropic duties.