BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
President Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday opened the 27th session of the Junior Parliament of Zimbabwe as part of commemorations of the Day of the African Child by promising free compulsory basic education for all children.
Mnangagwa told the young Parliamentarians in Harare that his government would work round the clock to protect and promote the interests and rights of children.
“I am always ready to listen to you, our children, with a view to addressing your concerns,” he said.
“The future is ours together. As we celebrate the African Child, we intend to promote children’s rights in all areas of health, education, social responsibilities. We are determined to ensure that matters relating to children are dealt with amicably,” he said.
Mnangagwa said his government would offer free but compulsory basic education for children and build more schools to make his vision possible.
“We are committing to create access to good health, creating employment for our youth. We want to have a culture of innovation and also encourages our youth to adopt a new curriculum in order to build the Zimbabwe we want,” he said.
The Day of the African Child was initiated in 1991 by the then Organisation of African Unity Assembly and they designated June 16 in honour of children who participated in South Africa’s Soweto Uprising in 1976. This year’s theme is: Humanitarian Action in Africa: Children’s Rights First.
Health and Child Care minister Obadiah Moyo said children should discuss issues of sexual health with their guardians before proceeding to the hospital or clinics.
Moyo said the ministry did not want to see a child who had contracted a sexually transmitted disease going to a hospital or clinics unaccompanied.
“We will make sure condoms are available, but as the ministry we encourage abstinence. We say no to early marriages, we are against 12 years as age of consent, but as the ministry we recognise 18 years as the age of legal consent,” he said.
Child President Mukudzeishe Madzivire chronicled challenges distracting children from focusing on their education.