First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa shares notes with Indian Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Vijay Khanduja and Ms Sushma Pawar during a courtesy call at Zimbabwe House yesterday. — Picture: John Manzongo

INDIA intends to expand its already existing cordial relations with Zimbabwe, especially in the health sector and work is underway to deliver the promised Covid-19 vaccines, Indian Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Vijay Khanduja has said.

Speaking to journalists after his maiden courtesy call on First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa in Harare yesterday, the ambassador, whose tenure of office began in November last year, praised the First Lady for her philanthropic work to ease the plight of vulnerable communities through her Angel of Hope Foundation.

The First Lady is the country’s health ambassador.

They also had discussions on the benefits of traditional medicine which the ambassador said has been in use in his home country for thousands of years and that India intends to bring its traditional medicine to Zimbabwe for the benefit of the nation.

Mr Khanduja said they were going to work with the Angel of Hope Foundation and bring sewing machines from India and offer training to vulnerable communities through the foundation.

He said he would ensure that the move is achieved in the shortest time possible.

“India and Zimbabwe have historical and strong ties, friendly ties, cordial ties and it will be my endeavour to take them to new heights, to work together in every field especially in the health sector of which you are the ambassador.

“I have also come to know of the wonderful charity work that is being done by the Angel of Hope Foundation of which you are the patron and it’s a pleasure to learn all about that and we will see how from the Government of India side we can collaborate in that venture,” he said.

“There is a proposal of getting sewing machines from India and training the people here so we hope to execute that at an early date.”

The ambassador said India has had historical relations with Zimbabwe, saying prior to the independence of Zimbabwe, the two countries were in touch with each other.

“India was helping Zimbabwe in its fight against colonialism. We have had traditional friendly relationships after independence encompassing practically every field be it political, economic trade relationship and now its expanding more and more in the health sector too,” he said.

“We are providing over 200 training slots to Zimbabwean nationals and they are in the chosen fields available wherever Zimbabwe feels there is need. So, it’s a broad-based and friendly relationship.”

On the vaccines, the ambassador said: “We got the approval on the 4th of March and we are working to get it within this month.”

On the progress of setting up a traditional medical centre, Mr Khanduja said it was work in progress.

“The two countries, India and Zimbabwe, signed a memorandum of understanding during the visit of vice president of India in 2018 and there is a proposal to set up a joint working group under that so we hope to have a traditional medicinal system also come to Zimbabwe,” he said.

“In the traditional system of medicine, we use natural herbs and it’s cost-effective, it does not have side effects. The Indian side has proposed a joint working group with Zimbabwe. We have nominated members.

“We sent the information to the Ministry of Health and Child Care. I hope that Indian traditional medicines can also come to Zimbabwe and that together we are able to promote it so that people benefit in these difficult times.

“This has been in practice in India for about 10 000 years and we have written history for about 5 000 years. With traditional medicine you can live a healthy life for many years.”

In her remarks, the First Lady thanked the ambassador for paying a courtesy call on her office.

“I also want to thank the Indian government for the donation of vaccines to help us curb the scourge of Covid-19 which we are yet to receive. This endorsement is fundamental in assisting the public in getting vaccinated,” she said.

“I also appreciate the Indian Embassy for encouraging investors to come to our country for investment and we have a lot of Indian nationals that have shown some interest in coming and working in Zimbabwe. That will help our country in the economic drive.

“The President has said Zimbabwe is open for business so our country is saying whatever you are interested in doing in terms of business be it in mining, in industry, in agriculture you can come to Zimbabwe.”

The First Lady has a passion for the economic empowerment of women and youths and has initiated countless projects for their benefit countrywide.

Yesterday, she thanked the India for equipping the Waterfalls women’s hub.

“I visited the women’s hub in Waterfalls and saw that there is a lot of equipment which is helping our youths and women. They are learning a lot and are now able to process and produce therefore helping them in alleviating challenges that they are facing,” she said.

“All the equipment at the hub came from India and when I visited, I was impressed seeing women and youths doing different types of projects. The equipment is really empowering them and also helping them to showcase their talents.

“When I saw the equipment in Waterfalls, I thought of women who are in rural areas to say if they are able to use hand sewing machines which do not require electricity, it will help them and will go a long way in alleviating their problems.

“They can form groups, get those machines and start their own projects. If they want to start making clothes for their children first, they will have capacity to do that. It also helps them to work together,” she said.

Amai Mnangagwa said it was better to give someone a fishing rod and teach them to catch fish than giving them fish daily.

She thanked Mr Khanduja for the sewing machines which he said will be on their way to Zimbabwe soon and spelt out the need for people to work hard and not always rely on hand-outs.

“Therefore, by giving equipment to vulnerable communities, we would have empowered them. As Angel of Hope Foundation, we will train people so that they will be able to fend for their families.

“They have to use their brains and hands to put food on the table. There is need to train and equip them so that they can start to work for themselves,” she said.

“I want to encourage the citizens to work hard and take a leaf from what is happening in Waterfalls. The assistance by India is reflective of existing good bilateral relations and I am happy that India is assisting in various sectors including women and children.”

The First Lady thanked Innovative Healthcare Delivery (IHD) Life, an Indian company, for donating a fully equipped ambulance recently to her Angel of Hope Foundation for the benefit of various communities.

On the issue of traditional medicines, The First Lady weighed in saying Zimbabwe was in the process of following suit and setting up a traditional medicine hospital.

“I would like to say here in Zimbabwe the Ministry of Health and Child Care is in the process of building a side hospital for traditional medicines.

“Because of this Covid-19, we have seen a lot of herbs being taken by our people and it helped reduce the symptoms brought by this virus. The ministry is taking this up and are in the process of testing some of the traditional medicine from our country. So when you also bring in yours, this is going to help us a lot,” she said.

The Indian Ambassador spoke glowingly of the charity work being done by the First Lady and urged her to continue on that trajectory.

SOURCE: The Herald

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