The Sunday News
Kuda Bwititi, Harare Bureau
THE Government is committed to creating a prosperous country capable of providing decent jobs and high standards of living for young people and posterity, including upholding children’s rights, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said.
Speaking at the official opening of the 27th session of the Junior Parliament in Harare yesterday, the President said his administration considers young people as “critical partners to achieving our national development agenda”.
“The Second Republic is committed to create a more prosperous Zimbabwe for the younger and future generations. The ongoing economic development programmes are designed to ultimately result in a modern, industrialised country with decent jobs and a higher standard of living for all people,” said President Mnangagwa.
His administration, he said, is focused on giving priority to implementing policies that are relevant and responsive. The Head of State and Government said as a listening President, he was also willing to engage young people in dialogue, which is the essence of the new Zimbabwe.
“As young people, you must take your position and contribute to the development of our great country. I am always ready to listen to you, our children and young people, with a view to adopting appropriate policies to address your concerns. We are indeed masters of our own destiny and dialogue is the culture of the new Zimbabwe.”
Zimbabwe, he added, had a commendable record for advocating children’s rights as shown by the ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990, as well as enactment of domestic policies that support young people.
President Mnangagwa said: “Notable successes have been registered towards the realisation of children’s rights in the areas of health education and social protection.
“Our young generation continues to be at the heart of Government’s policies. My Government has adopted policies and measures to reflect the spirit and letter of Section 81 and Section 20 of the Constitution. We are determined to ensure that matters relating to our children and our youth are effectively dealt with.”
He said Government will never neglect the rights of young people to access education, housing, health, employment and empowerment opportunities, among other essential services, as they are part of basic human rights. Government is also committed to offering equal opportunities for children despite their social standing, including promoting free, compulsory basic education for all children, he added.
Government, he emphasised, would increase incubation hubs and vocational training centres countrywide to “inculcate a culture of innovation, scientific inventions and entrepreneurship” among the young people.
“We are committed to developing creative, innovative young people who create jobs and provide solutions to our daily challenges as a nation. I encourage all learners to take advantage of the comprehensive new curriculum to take up studies in new science, technical and engineering fields, as these are essential building blocks for the Zimbabwe of tomorrow.”
Government would continue supporting schools in areas ravaged by Cyclone Idai through providing additional teaching and learning material. In his remarks, acting Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Kazembe Kazembe said issues raised by the children help to identify some of the policy gaps in Government.
”The Junior Parliament programme emerged from a realisation by the Government of Zimbabwe that it is necessary to create a programme which gives a platform for children to express their views in the presence of senior officials and actively contribute to the community and national development.”
United National International Children and Education Fund (Unicef) country representative Laylee Moshiri noted that this year’s commemoration of the Day of the African Child coincided with the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. She said four areas that need special attention in Zimbabwe to reinforce children’s rights in line with the UN Convention include “gender equality, inclusion of children with disabilities especially in emergencies, free basic education and birth registration for every child”. She, however, expressed her disappointment that there was no female representative in this year’s topmost leadership of the Child Parliament.
In his speech, Child President Mukudzeishe Madzivire applauded Government for supporting the Junior Parliament for the past 27 years. He also spoke out against child marriages, rape and child abuse. Further, he proposed holding belated commemorations of the Day of the African Child in Chimanimani in order to honour children that perished during Cyclone Idai.
A carnival atmosphere, which was punctuated by colourful pageantry, pomp and fanfare, was pervasive during yesterday’s event, which mimicked the elaborate ceremonies synonymous with the opening of the Senior Parliament. The Junior Parliament sits every year in honour of the Day of the African Child that is commemorated on 16 June.