Top Russian diplomat jets in on reciprocal visit

Source: Top Russian diplomat jets in on reciprocal visit | Herald (Top Stories)

Madam Valentina Matviyenko

Tendai Rupapa Senior Reporter

FIRST LADY Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa on Thursday rolled out a red carpet welcome for a high-powered delegation led by the Speaker of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation Madam Valentina Matviyenko which is on a reciprocal visit to Zimbabwe for heart-to-heart discussions on issues of mutual interest and to see the philanthropic work she is doing through her Angel of Hope Foundation.

The mother of the nation was the first to be invited to St Petersburg, Russia, for the Third Eurasian Women’s conference in October last year by madam Matviyenko as the chairperson of the Women’s conference.

She then extended the invitation to the Federal Council Speaker during her visit and she gladly accepted and honoured the invite.

During their meeting in Russia, the Federal Council Speaker showed keen interest in exploring partnerships with Angel of Hope Foundation.

On Thursday, Madam Matviyenko handed over donations to Angel of Hope that comprised sewing machines, sports kits, tracksuits, clothing, different types of toys for children, school stationery and school satchels, among other goods.

So delighted was the First Lady that she hosted a banquet in honour of the delegation which had earlier toured some of the empowerment projects being implemented by Angel of Hope Foundation.

“I would like to welcome Honourable Matviyenko and your esteemed delegation visiting Zimbabwe. Allow me to express my appreciation to you for honouring your word and accepting my invitation when I visited St Petersburg last time. It is my sincere hope Honourable Matviyenko that you are enjoying yourself in the house of stones, Zimbabwe. And whether you found the weather favourable to you,” she said.

The mother of the nation expressed gratitude to Russia for using its veto power at the United Nations Security Council to block military invasion of Zimbabwe by the United Kingdom and her allies in 2008.

“Our country remains grateful for Russia’s support through the use of a veto at the United Nations Security Council in 2008 which prevented the imposition of more damaging sanctions against Zimbabwe. I am also very thankful for the warm welcome I received during my visit to St Petersburg Russia following the invitation to attend the third Eurasian women’s Forum in October 2021.

“Honourable Matviyenko, I would like to thank you for inviting me to such an eye-opening event that provided a significant platform for women to deliberate on various global issues. I also recall, yes we were together with the President of the Senate, and I also recall with fond memories of the meeting I had with you Madam Matviyenko and the fruitful deliberations that took place and the various issues of common interest we found both as women aiming for the best for our respective countries.”

Dr Mnangagwa applauded increased economic cooperation between Zimbabwe and Russia as evidenced by Russian firms setting up businesses here and the granting of learning opportunities for local learners through scholarships.

“I also take cognisance of the increased economic cooperation between our two countries as evidenced by investments made by entities such as Alrosa Diamonds as well as Great Dyke Investments joint venture on platinum in Darwendale,” she said.

“I also want to thank the Russian government in the area of higher and tertiary learning which has seen the Russian Government increase the number of scholarships offered to Zimbabwean students to 80 and also a further increase of 42, bringing it to 112 students offered scholarships in Russia.”

The mother of the nation gave the delegation an insight into the work she is doing through her foundation to ease the plight of vulnerable communities.

“As First Lady of the Republic of Zimbabwe, I founded Angel of Hope Foundation with the aim of assisting the general Zimbabweans who are disadvantaged, marginalised and underprivileged, looking at the disabled, the orphans, women, youth and children in all the provinces that make Zimbabwe,” she said.

“These programmes include the feeding of school children, looking at the elderly, their feeding as well, clothing and all the disadvantaged groups that we have in our country.”

She praised Russia for its intervention in the fight against Covid-19 by donating the vaccine, Sputnik, and appraised the meeting of the work she was doing on the health front.

“I continuously hold Covid-19 awareness programmes which I began in 2020 at the onset of the pandemic in Zimbabwe,” said the First Lady. “I was targeting the vulnerable groups, especially those from rural areas who do not get information like people in urban areas.

“At this point I would like to thank the Russian government for donating the Sputnik vaccine to help combat the covid-19 pandemic and it was the first medicine that came to our country. This donation assisted our Government immensely in accelerating our vaccination programme which we are continuing and our people have accepted it.

“Both the Angel of Hope Foundation and Government continue awareness campaigns for our people not to forget because the disease is still with us working together with the World Health Organisation. I am also the health ambassador of this country and I advocate for awareness on cancer screening for both men and women.

“I have seen that women are mostly affected by cancer and they care coming in their thousands to be screened and most of them are coming from rural areas where it is difficult for them to board buses to and from their places. I have set up a home where I am looking after cancer patients until they complete treatment with the Ministry of Health.

“I don’t give them shelter only, but I also give them skills while they are waiting for their treatment and appointments with their doctors. I give them something to do like knitting and sewing making everything that a woman can do.”

In response, Madame Matviyenko said she felt honoured to be in the country and thanked the First Lady for inviting her.

She also said she was pleased by the privilege her delegation got to meet the President earlier in the day.

“Thank you very much First Lady Madam Mnangagwa,” she said. “I have warm memories of our last meeting at the Women’s conference and thank you very much for extending invitation to visit your country.

“Thank you very much for taking care of our delegation. Thank you for a very interesting programme that you have crafted and it was a very great honour for us to meet His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe Mr Mnangagwa.

“You are very lucky in Zimbabwe because you have a President with such experience, a prominent politician that is capable for standing for interests, independence and sovereignty of your country. I would like to thank the leadership of Zimbabwe for the fact that you value and remember the assistance that our country provided to Zimbabwe during its struggle for independence in building state, military and economic structure of the country.

“I would like to thank you for supporting Russian initiatives at the UN Security Council and we value your independent, balanced and sovereign position on international issues.”

Madam Matviyenko said her country valued the friendship between Zimbabwe and Russia and had taken note that the First Lady was passionate about women’s health.

“We really value the friendship between Zimbabwe and Russia,” she said. “We have taken note that the First Lady is so passionate about women’s health and the welfare of children. We are impressed by the charity works being done by the First Lady in Zimbabwe.

“I like the name of your foundation Angel of Hope Foundation. Each child is an angel and should be surrounded by care, love and warmth. It’s not up to the State only to do so, but all players like what AOH is doing.

“Childhood is a special stage in life because it shapes what one becomes. We are all responsible to see to it that children are protected and become great members of society. Today we have brought humanitarian aid to the children of Zimbabwe through AOH. I hope it will make the children smile.

“Madam Mnangagwa you are a beacon, a model to follow by others, we really appreciate what you are doing. Every great man has a great woman to thank and Amai we think you are that great woman.”

In response the First Lady said every gift the delegation brought would reach the intended beneficiaries.

“All you have brought will reach the indented beneficiaries, I will personally hand over so that everyone benefits,” she said. “All you have brought, we will take to our children in hospitals, those in rural areas will also benefit, I will spread the donation.

“About the sewing machines, we are grateful. It will help our women greatly whom we are empowering with skills especially women in prisons. This is going to help a lot, especially when they leave the institution they will have somewhere to start from and also teach other women in their communities.”

The delegation toured Angel of Hope Foundation’s Hotplate and Grill House restaurant where she is economically empowering the vulnerable girl child and widows.

At the Hotplate, the delegation was welcomed by traditional dancers as the mother of the nation spoke about Zimbabwean culture, its dances and traditional food.

She was shown a variety of traditional dishes which are being served at the restaurant.

Madam Matviyenko mixed and mingled with the vulnerable girls and widows.

“The First Lady, Madam Mnangagwa is a warm-hearted woman who takes care of the downtrodden. She is a true mother of the nation. All the best my girls,” she said, before ululating in appreciation of the Zimbabwean culture which she is learning fast.

Madam Matviyenko gave Russian kitchen utensils to the First Lady Russian which were painted with the style called Khokhoma.

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