The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Conference to Fine Tune Empowerment Projects

The Zanu-PF 13th Annual National People's Conference that opens in the Midlands capital of Gweru today should come up with some resolutions that economically empower marginalised women in remote parts of the country, an official said yesterday.

The secretary for women affairs in the Politburo Cde Ophah Muchinguri said the broad based indigenisation and economic empowerment programme was supposed to be dissected sector by sector and find areas where women would fit in.

"The indigenisation programme should be discussed sector by sector . . . we want to see ways in which women mainly in rural areas can benefit from the Community Share Trusts that are being formed.

"Yes, we want roads, dip tanks and classrooms to be rehabilitated, but at the same time we are saying we want to see women benefiting directly from these trusts," she said.

Cde Muchinguri said there were vast opportunities that women in remote parts of the country would take advantage of if economically empowered.

She said the money that was being made available for community trusts was too much and suggested that part of it was supposed to be set aside as a revolving fund to loan women to start some small businesses.

"We want women to start businesses such as bee-keeping in some growth points and eventually they will export their products and earn more income," she said.

Cde Muchinguri said the conference that will be opened today by the party's First Secretary and President Mugabe was supposed to come up with some resolutions that fine tune the indigenisation and empowerment programmes.

She said the Grain Marketing Board had not been paying farmers for crops delivered, some of them last year, adding that it was time that some villagers were supported to do value addition on their produce.

"Women are producing many crops such as maize, tobacco and groundnuts among others and we are saying our farmers should be assisted to do value addition.

"Since GMB is not paying, we want women to be assisted to start milling businesses so that they sell finished products that fetch more value. We want them to sell peanut butter not groundnuts, mealie meal not maize. They should have their small silos to keep their grain," she said.

Cde Muchinguri said the party was supposed to make sure that measures were put in place to assist women working in big companies in urban centres also get some shares.

She suggested that there was supposed to be a quota set aside for women in all companies that were coming up with workers share schemes.

She lauded Zanu-PF for coming up with a deliberate policy to educate its people since 1980.

Cde Muchinguri said the people had been empowered through land and free education among other empowerment programmes.

"However, we are saying most of our children do not have jobs and the party should come up with resolutions that make sure that the women and the youths are empowered through the indigenisation programmes."

This year's conference is being held under the theme Indeginise, Empower, Develop and Create Employment.

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