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MPs want Govt to set up a dedicated Ministry for Children’s Affairs

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  • President Mnangagwa set the tone in his recent State of the Nation Address where he emphasised on the need to table the Children’s Bill in the Third Session of the Ninth Parliament.

By Mutsa Makuvaza

MEMBERS of Parliament from both Zanu-PF and the opposition MDC Alliance, including MDC-A vice president Tendai Biti, yesterday called on Government to set up a dedicated Ministry for Children’s Affairs to protect the rights of minors from various forms of abuse and exposure to unfavourable socio-economic conditions in the country.

Buhera Central legislator Dr. Mathew Nyashanu (Zanu-PF) kicked off the motion yesterday in Parliament saying that President Mnangagwa set the tone in his recent State of the Nation Address where he emphasised on the need to table the Children’s Bill in the Third Session of the Ninth Parliament.  

“After observing that issues to do with children are being dealt with in a less coordinated manner, I recommend that the Government of Zimbabwe must consider setting up a dedicated Ministry for Children’s Affairs,” Dr Nyashanu said.

He added: “We have another chance in this Ninth Parliament to cause a positive change to the quality of lives by our children.  As Nelson Mandela wisely noted, ‘The character of any society is determined by the way it treats its children’, and another wise man from Ghana, the late Kofi Annan once noted, ‘The world is not ours to keep.  We hold it in trust for future generations’.  One of America’s great Presidents, J. F. Kennedy, once noted, ‘And on this planet, God’s good works should truly be our own’.  I so move the motion.”

Speaking in support of the motion, Chegutu West MP Dexter Nduna called on Government to ensure all children who do not have birth certificates are issued with ones.

“We have a lot of men out there who are just sperm donors who immediately after the mother becomes pregnant would not want to be associated with them, therefore prohibiting the mother to get a birth certificate after birth.

“I propose that there be a moratorium for any child who does not have a birth certificate or Identity Document for any reason or the other, that covers about 24 months.  

“This will be in order that every child can be afforded a birth certificate and we get to know that for real it is a child, and when anybody does molest, abuse a child it is not because they have seen the stature but it is because a child is called a child because of their age and their defined documentation.”

Harare East legislator Tendai Biti supported the establishment of a dedicated children’s Ministry, and called for Government policies that protect minors from abuse including cyber-bullying, pornography and the worshipping of “false heroes who drive Lamborghinis and Ferraris”.

Said Biti: “Hon. Nduna is very correct in saying that the majority of men in Zimbabwe have become irresponsible sperm donors. The right of children needs to be protected in the family context. 

“Only in today’s newspaper, there is an article in The Daily News that speaks to the estate of the late hero Cde. Shiri and that there is already a family dispute with children coming forward and other family members saying we do not recognise Shiri.

“Children have got a right to inherit from their father’s estate and contrary to the decision of Magaya vs Magaya, it should not be a matter whether the child is a girl or not. Any child must inherit from his father’s estate or from his parent’s estate.

“So I propose that the Child Act and that the new Minister, separate Ministers, stand-alone Minister of Children that we are proposing in this motion must come up with the Children’s Act that also deals with the issue of children’s inheritance because a lot of children right now – I am a practising lawyer and I have seen so many cases of children being prejudiced by greedy uncles, greedy relatives and being disinherited.”

Biti further argued that while the Internet was a good resource, children must be against the dangers of the internet such as cyber-bullying and pornography.

The MDC Alliance vice president also said Parliament must pass laws that encourage children to value education.

“We should send our children to school. We should protect our children and we should protect them against false heroes. Our society has now created false heroes who drive Lamborghinis and Ferraris who have not seen the inside of a classroom. That is dangerous and it is unacceptable in a society like Zimbabwe,” said Biti.

The legislators further requested for the establishment of a Parliamentary Caucus that deals directly with issues affecting the Children’s Rights and Welfare from a comprehensive and holistic perspective,

Section 19 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe provides for the Rights of Children, and Zimbabwe is a signatory to the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of Children and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. – Zimbabwe Voice

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