Activists rubbish 'child protestors' concerns

HARARE - Vociferous anti-President Robert Mugabe pressure group, Tajamuka, said it will not take heed of the growing concerns over the involvement of children in protests.

This comes as last week, children took the frontline in a protest demanding the return of abducted activist Itai Dzamara — who has been missing for 17 months.

During the protest — led by Itai’s brother Patson — the missing activist’s children walked up to armed police and offered them flowers before calling on them to remove their riot gear and join the fight against government’s misrule.

FLASHBACK... Zanu PF's political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere helps a pupil from Sengwe Primary recite a Zanu slogan at a rally last year. 

Curiously, the riot police, which brutally beats up protestors more often than not, quietly retreated to their trucks.

However, this did not go down well with Unicef and the Social Welfare ministry who felt the children were being exploited and used to “advance a particular political cause”.

But pressure group Tajamuka spokesperson, Promise Mkwananzi, insisted that Itai’s children will continue to participate in all the processes involving the search for their father.

“...Unicef should hold that value uniformly and not in a timid and partisan manner that seems aimed at pacifying the sitting government at the expense of protecting the very children they claim to stand for,” he said.

The former student leader argued that Zanu PF had previously used children to chant political slogans but no aid organisation had come out rebuking the party’s leaders.

“Mugabe, his wife and their party Zanu PF have often disrupted classes to bus children to augment depleted numbers at their rallies. Unicef has never said a word,” Mkwananzi said, adding that “during the 6th of July 2016 national shutdown, the Zimbabwe Republic Police teargased and killed a child in Makokoba high density area in Bulawayo and there was no word from Unicef”.

“There are numerous other cases of clear abuse of children in political causes where Unicef should have said something but did not.”

Following the children’s involvement in the Dzamara demo, Social Welfare minister Prisca Mupfumira was quoted as saying in the State media that “…the use of children in the protest violates Article 367 of United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which provides for the protection of children from any form of exploitation, which includes being taken advantage of; in this case it is clear that the organisers of this protest took advantage of these children to get a sympathetic ear”.

She added: “the Zimbabwe Constitution provides that ‘Every child has a right not to be compelled to take part in any political activity’. It is doubtful if these children on their own volition volunteered to be part and parcel of this protest”.

Patson has also said that “I don’t see any novelty in the children taking part in any activity involving their father. We always see school children taking part in Zanu PF political activities, and they even go to the point of closing schools so that the kids can attend Zanu PF rallies,” he said.

Comments (4)

What is Kasukuwere telling that kid to do?

Deepends - 16 August 2016

If the children of the unknown-where-he-was-abducted-to Itai Dzamara get geared, whichever way, whether at their own volition or under the influence of a sympathiser what has that to do with anyone whose family members always sit at table for a meal together? Think twice! It is clear knowledge that these children are always imprisoned in heart and mind whenever they look around and realize that their father is not anywhere near them. Whenever they ask their mother, oh! my! I see her tears voluntarily rolling down her cheeks! A Unicef, no matter how important, if it really is, must rather SHUT UP!!!! if they have nothing to contribute to the whereabouts of dear kids of Itai Dzamara. Am taking it to be me, and my children, never knowing where I am, imika imiiiiiiiii!!!!!!

Simbarashe Samukange - 16 August 2016

Children are elders of tomorrow, educating them and making them aware of the challenges of tomorrow is not evil but good parenting. Children suffer most, whoever is complaining on the involvement of children in campaign of any nature should equally rally against Mugabe because when he is attending schools where children learn he disrupt lessons, school children in the entire district would be bused, line up the roads and streets to wave hand and placard for him. No one has ever complained. Now that opposition is also asking the same group to assist in their quest for democratic space to prevail in the country someone is crying that shows lack of sincerity. Issue is that ZANU PF has been defeated at its own game since it can not beat children who are part of the protest. Its high time that correct history of Zimbabweans suffering be made public to everyone. Police have been brutal to all, they need to be know for such by every inch of the society. Children are the greatest victims of Mugabe and ZANU PF poor governance. Children rely on their parents for survival. If the same parent is poorly remunerated or does not get a salary or job, its time even children get to know the source of their suffering ALUTA CONTUNIA with involving every one, next time we must take even our dogs, cats, chickens to these demos.

amina - 17 August 2016

Very true Simbarashe,What is more painful as a child ,to live without knowing the whereabouts of your father and whether he is dead or alive than to try and force the authorities to reveal the fate of their father by having a peaceful demonstration to send a message to the world that the children are affected by their father's absence.Unicef should have added its voice in demanding the release of Dzamara's whereabouts instead of trying to show window dressing concern when it is clear that the children are more worried with their father's absence than anything else

Janana wa Bikaz - 17 August 2016

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