Auxilia Mnangagwa is a political veteran. Forget the fact that she is the first lady of Zimbabwe, she is also an active member of the nation’s major political party, Zanu-PF.
Across Africa, you will mostly find first ladies that support their husband’s political careers without being politically active themselves, this is not the same for Auxilia.
She has served in government since 1982 and she has represented her party in many capacities.
On behalf of her party, she has set up a number of women’s banks across Zimbabwe’s midlands provinces.
She joined the party’s Central Committee in 2009. In 2015, after her husband was appointed as vice president before becoming president, she stood as the Member of Parliament for Chirumanzu–Zibagwe constituency. She got 94.4% of the votes in the parliamentary by-election after the withdrawal of the other two candidates.
Auxilia grew up in a farm in rural Zimbabwe. In an interview with The Standard, she described her childhood as difficult.
She said It was very difficult and we had to endure serious hardships. It is this history that has made me a determined and hard-working woman who wants to promote children’s rights and access to education. After school, I would fend for my brothers, collecting firewood, fetching water and looking for vegetables for relish, including fishing at Kumhakwe river. When it flooded we would catch fish for sale. During school holidays, I would go to white-owned farms to pick cotton and soya beans and do many other chores that the pikinini baas (white farmer’s son) would give us to do at the farm and for the white family as he followed us on horseback or motorbike with his shotgun and a sjambok. After that I would dry okra (derere), catch lots of mice and locusts and dry them to take them back home after work at the farm.
This motivated her to work hard and rise through the ranks of her political career.
She advocated for the abolition of child marriage and she is also described as a philanthropist in Zimbabwe.