FIRST Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa has been mentioned in the National Budget — the first time for a first lady — and will get Treasury funding for her programmes as she increasingly gets involved in government duties.
The First Lady will get Treasury financial support under tourism advocacy and awareness, according to the National Budget statement presented by Finance minister Mthuli Ncube this week.
“In an effort to improve tourism awareness in communities, the First Lady together with the line Ministry, contributed to the diversification of the tourism product base through the introduction of Gastronomy Tourism by promoting traditional foods and cuisines.
“The National Cookout Competitions will be cascaded to district levels and upgrading to regional (Sadc) level,” reads the budget statement.
The First Lady launched the competitions in 2020 to promote uptake of traditional dishes, a programme that she has since handed over to the ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality.
The First Lady has also been penetrating the health sector through her Angel of Hope Foundation, which saw her being named Ambassador of Health in 2018. She has also been involved in diplomacy — roles that are set aside for diplomats, the minister of Foreign Affairs and the President, among other officials.
This month, she met with Iranian Foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, where they discussed on expanding and deepening relations between the two countries, work that is reserved for diplomats and the President. Amir-Abdollahian said ties between the two countries continue to grow and expressed hope that, in the near future and with the holding of the 9th meeting of the Joint Commission on Cooperation between the two countries, relations in all fields will further develop.
The recent mention in the budget, and involvement in governance is also ironic, considering that the November 2017 coup was partly justified by the need to resist former first lady Grace Mugabe who was dabbling in party and government business.
Writing from exile in South Africa before the coup, Mnangagwa said Grace was controlling party and government business.
“This party is now controlled by undisciplined, egotistical and self-serving minnows who derive power, not from the party, but from only two individuals in the form of the first family who have now privatised our beloved institution.
“I now urge all the genuine members of the party to determine for themselves who between the three of us, including your wife, is the real culprit is destroying our party,” he said.