The Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights), joins the African Continent in commemorating the Day of the African Child. The DAC, celebrated on the 16th of June since 1991, is in honour of thousands of black students massacred during peaceful protests about the inferior quality of their education and to demand their right to be taught in their own language in Soweto in 1976. Every year, the day draws attention to the lives of African children. This year’s theme is, “30 years after the adoption of the Charter; accelerate the implementation of Agenda 2040 for an Africa fit for children.”
As the world is grappling with the ravages of COVID 19, ZimRights notes with concern the challenges that children continue to face in Zimbabwe and Africa at large. For the past 30 years, the lives of the majority of the children in Zimbabwe has been worsening. While we acknowledge the relative strides taken in improving children’s health and education, ZimRights laments the Zimbabwean political, social and economic environment that is in tatters – and averse to the fulfilment of children’s rights and welfare despite provisions in the Constitution.
This year’s theme calls for the acceleration of the Agenda 2040 as a way of fostering an Africa fit for children. Agenda 2040 sets outs 10 aspirations to be achieved by 2040 which are
- Aspiration 1: The African Children’s Charter, as supervised by the African Children’s Committee, provides an effective continental framework for advancing children’s rights
- Aspiration 2: An effective child-friendly national legislative, policy and institutional framework is in place in all Member States
- Aspiration 3: Every child’s birth and other vital statistics are registered
- Aspiration 4: Every child survives and has a healthy childhood
- Aspiration 5: Every child grows up well-nourished and with access to the basic necessities of life
- Aspiration 6: Every child benefits fully from quality education
- Aspiration 7: Every child is protected against violence, exploitation, neglect and abuse
- Aspiration 8: Children benefit from a child-sensitive criminal justice system
- Aspiration 9: Every child is free from the impact of armed conflicts and other disasters or emergency situations
- Aspiration 10: African children’s views matter
Zimbabwe is struggling, to fulfill the aspirations that will lead to better lives for Zimbabwean Children as envisioned by Agenda 2040. ZimRights calls upon the government of Zimbabwe to progressively realise these aspirations and not to wait until 2040 to ensure that the aspirations contained in the Agenda are achieved.
As we mark the day today, 30 years after the adoption of the charter to commemorate the Day of the African Child, media reports state that Zimbabwe has a million students dropping out of school over the past year alone[i]. Furthermore, 5000 school girls were impregnated in January and February of 2021.[ii] Just in 2020, a Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission inquiry exposed the challenges in accessing identity documentation by millions of Zimbabwean children who are currently stateless.
The worsening drug situation among Zimbabwean children mainly caused by the overarching challenge of widespread poverty, which was recently reported by the World bank to be affecting half of Zimbabwean population, is a clear indictment on the government of Zimbabwe’s failure to provide for a Zimbabwe fit for children.
ZimRights calls upon the government to fulfill the African Charter it ratified in 1995 on the Rights and Welfare of the Child by reducing poverty in Zimbabwe to allow children to live a better life, provision of a functioning healthy delivery system and affordable quality education for all children.
ZimRights is also urging the government to ensure easy access to national documentation, fulfil the rights of children and ensure that all children have the best of lives