President Emmerson Mnangagwa this week created national awards to honour outstanding Zimbabweans through Statutory Instrument 213 of 2021. First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa, one of the first recipients, was awarded the Order of the Star of Zimbabwe Gold thereby attracting criticism from some sections of society. NewsDay suggested Mnangagwa was taking “bedroom politics to the national level,” and accused him of utter abuse of office. In response, the Presidential spokesperson, George Charamba, suggested that Mnangagwa had no influence in the awarding of awards. Pindula News presents Charamba’s statement below.
PRESS STATEMENT ON HONOURS AND AWARDS
The editorial comment in today’s issue of NewsDay, titled “Don’t take bedroom politics to national level”, is as provocative and disrespectful of the First Couple as it is bawdy.
The comment takes umbrage at Government decision to extend to the First Lady, Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa, an award in recognition of her philanthropic and cultural work for our Nation. The comment brazenly goes as far as judging the First Lady’s work against nameless “deserving philanthropists” it claims “have contributed to the development of the country better and far longer than her”. Who these better deserving philanthropists are, only NewsDay knows and deserves to know. Further, the paper accuses the President of “utter abuse of office”, which frivolous charge suggests the President acted singly, unilaterally and unlawfully in identifying the 25 Zimbabweans and 14 institutions who merited to be honoured at this year’s National Heroes Day. All this is untrue and full of undisguised ill-will.
For the avoidance of doubt, National Honours and Awards are handled in terms of the law of the Land, namely the Honours and Awards Act [Chapter 10:11], promulgated by the Parliament of Zimbabwe. Decision on who deserves to be honoured in terms of the aforesaid law is taken by Cabinet on the recommendations of its Committee on Honours and Awards which is chaired by our Vice President, Honourable Dr C.G.D.N. Chiwenga. The Committee in turn is underpinned by an Honours and Awards Technical Committee which is chaired by the Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Dr M.J.M. Sibanda.
In deciding on the scope of honours and awards for any given year, Government looks at actors in key sectors and areas of our society who will have impacted positively on our Nation. This year’s line-up of people and institutions deserving national recognition was, however, unique in that it was inaugural under the Second Republic, and thus covered a vast canvas of actors who spanned across epochs, in order to make a clear statement on those values and sacrifices we extol and hold dear for our Nation as we remould our present and shape the future with a view to inventing brave, caring, compassionate and creative society.
Going forward, such honours and awards will be a permanent feature of our National Heroes Commemorations, the prime idea being to motivate and trigger a spirit of sacrifice, excellence and service to society. In the same vein, these honours and awards will be open to all, regardless of epoch, colour, creed, station, gender, tribe, region or even nationality.
Cabinet decided in its collective wisdom that among those deserving to be honoured at this year’s National Heroes Ceremony, be Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa, who happens to be the spouse of the President. The focus was strictly on her philanthropic and cultural work and its impact on our society. As NewsDay will itself attest, the First Lady’s efforts have touched countless lives and communities. in so short a space of time. Above all, her calling is humanitarian; it is not political. As NewsDay knows or should know, the First Lady renounced her political role as a Member of Parliament for Chirumanzu/Zibagwe at a public meeting held in Mvuma in 2018. Thereafter, she has strictly trimmed her role and work to that of First Lady of our Nation.
The Office of the President and Cabinet hopes that one day soon, NewsDay will take an active, positive interest in the work of the First Lady so in healthy partnership, her Office and the media can advance the cause of the less fortunate in our society. They deserve a helping hand.
Department of Presidential Communications Office of the President and Cabinet.
Some observers pointed out that Section 5 (1) of the new legislation says the awards shall be granted on the authority of the president which means he has the overall say on who gets which award.
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