The Sunday News
Robin Muchetu, Senior Reporter
THE Government has urged a multi-sectoral approach in dealing with the scourge of drug abuse and Gender Based Violence (GBV) and has incorporated the church into programmes that will foster change of attitude and reduction of social ills.
It is in that light that the Council of Churches in Africa (CCA) has shown its commitment in participating and endorsing the devolution agenda that gives the marginalised communities a sense of belonging, responsibility and participation in issues which have direct impact on their livelihoods.
With devolution, and the ‘Nyika inovakwa nevene vayo/Ilizwe lakhiwa ngabaninilo’ philosophical wisdom of President Mnangagwa, an invitation has been made to all to partake in the social and economic development of the country.
CCA said the church was feeding into the President’s vision of empowering everyone to participate in development through offering chaplaincy to citizens and help build a strong social and moral structure for an upright society.
The church has also been identified as an amplifier of voices for the marginalised in the communities.
Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution Cde Judith Ncube said devolution must be carried forward starting from low levels. She said social ills like drug abuse and GBV have to be dealt with by the church.
“Government is spearheading devolution and we must all support it from the household level. As a city I’m glad we have come as women to speak against GBV.
There are women from Entumbane suburb who have been selling drugs to the youth outside a school, some of them were in edible things like scones and biscuits.
However, parents back home will be praying for their children to have an education and better their lives, but another parent is selling drugs to our children.
Our children are being expelled from schools because of other parents’ negligence,” she said at a CCA Women Fellowship launch last week.
Cde Ncube said it was sad that parents and guardians were paying school fees for learners who were no longer interested in school.
“One school head told me that parents were paying school fees but the learners were no longer governable as they sneak drugs into the school premise and use them during breaktime such that upon returning to class they are intoxicated.
They have lost respect for teachers, other learners and parents. This then forces teachers to also drawback as the learner will be a nuisance,” she said.
She pleaded with residents to find a lasting solution to the drug menace affecting the communities as the youths who she said were future leaders were displaying serious wayside behaviour.
“I believe the church can be an agent of change on the challenges that the country is facing with the youths,” she said.
Ms Kudzi Kunzekweguta from CCA who leads a campaign against GBV in Bulawayo said parents should create relationships with their children and encourage them to open up about abuses or addictions they may be developing.
“I encourage parents to talk to children, because GBV starts from home when you chase the girl child from home because she was seen in the company of boys.
This leads to early marriages and GBV is rife in those early marriages. The future becomes difficult for these children. We need to nip this in the bud from the family level,” she said.
She said abuse was occurring in the church too but was swept under the carpet as people fear laying accusations on men of the cloth.
“We are lacking safe spaces to talk about abuses as women, they must start from the home where we are saying relationships must be created between parents and their children.
If we do this then some of these ills will be solved. We must not silence children when they come with allegations of being abused by relatives, neighbours and church leaders. Let them speak out,” added Ms Kunzekweguta.
Bishop Rocky Moyo, the president of the CCA expressed delight on the role of apostolic sects in fighting GBV following a donation of a service vehicle for the women’s ministry who were dealing with GBV by Johanne Masowe weNyenyedzi Nomwe led by Herbert Senda, known as Madzibaba Enock.
“I feel the donation of a vehicle to the church will help ease mobility challenges in moving around the country assisting victims. I am also happy that the sect which donated the vehicle is also instrumental as it has been fingered a lot in GBV and child marriages.
I feel they have heard the message denouncing these ills and have embraced the fact that children need to be protected. We thank the church for their kind donation, we also thank Madzibaba Enock for this. We want to work with them well as an association,” he said.
Bishop Moyo said the donation came at the right time when the country was fighting GBV and many other ills that were happening in the communities.
“We have many divorces in the country, I feel they are also contributing to early child marriages as these children will not be getting enough support and guidance from parents who will have separated,” he said.
Madzibaba Enock said assisting the women in the church with a vehicle was testimony of their commitment to eradicating child marriages and GBV.
“As Johanne Masowe Wenyenyedzi Nomwe we appreciate the Government efforts of curbing these social ills. If you look back, you can see that early child marriages have been a menace in our churches, several reports have been made about young girls being married off in the church, as young as 12 years. Those are the issues we are trying to educate our members and society at large on.
“We have a role to play to assist the Government in ending this. So, we gave the vehicle to help CCA to access remote areas where these marriages are taking place,” he said.
Madzibaba Enock said the apostolic sector have in the past made mistakes but now was the time to correct them.
“We would like to thank ministers who are assisting to ensure an end to child marriages and are serving as pillars of enlightenment for the masses in the church,” he added.
The United Nations Population Fund estimated that one in three women in Zimbabwe are victims of GBV while thousands of young girls have been married off at a tender age.