BY TATENDA CHITAGU
LOCAL authorities countrywide, who are capitalising on the rising demand for residential stands and sacrificing space reserved for children’s recreational facilities in urban areas, are violating the rights of children, a senior child protection officer has said.
Child Rights Network for Southern Africa regional co-ordinator Musavengana Chibwana said this during a virtual conference on children held under the theme Children and Elusive Childhoods in Zimbabwe, which was organised by the Midlands State University this week.
“Of late, recreational spaces that we grew up frequenting in towns are now extinct. They were places where swings and other facilities for children’s entertainment were found. They were also arts centres where the local authorities had dedicated land and structures for children.
“But they are all gone as local authorities allocated those stands to individuals who built houses, or they failed to maintain them. When developing new housing suburbs, most local authorities no longer reserve land for child recreational centres and this is worrying,” Chibwana said.
He said by doing so, local authorities who are taking advantage of the growing housing demand in Zimbabwe, are depriving children of their right to good socio-psychological development.
“As such, efforts should be made to clearly demonstrate the centrality of fulfilling children’s rights in the pursuit of the country’s development goals.”
Justice for Children Trust programmes director Caleb Mutandwa said the laws on children needed to be implemented.
“Childhood is viewed as a period in which children need protection, hence the many laws which have been enacted this far must elevate the role of the State in the upbringing of children. But my problem lies with the implementation of the laws. In some cases, there are implementation challenges, hence some of the children do not benefit from the laws and thereby have varied childhood experiences,” Mutandwa said.