On the occasion of the International Day of the African Child (2021), the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition appreciates the important role of youths and students in fighting injustice and shaping democratic societies.
The Day of the African Child is commemorated to remember hundreds of students from Soweto who lost their lives following the 1976 protests against a Bantu education system and the apartheid regime in South Africa.
An estimated 20 000 students took part in the protests which eventually changed the social, economic and political landscape of South Africa.
The day also serves to inspire reflection and action towards addressing challenges faced by the African children.
The 2021 theme is “30 years after the adoption of the Charter: Accelerate the implementation of Agenda 2040 for an Africa fit for children”.
In commemorating the Day of the African Child, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition pays tribute to the students from Soweto who stood up to the apartheid regime in South Africa.
The Soweto uprising thus reinforces the important role of students and young people in fighting despotic governments.
This year’s Day of the African Child comes on the backdrop of the continued closure of the democratic space in Zimbabwe and the situation has been further compounded by the government’s apparent failure to provide safety nets for the younger generation in light of the Covid 19 pandemic which has negatively affected livelihoods.
We note with concern the continued heavy handedness by the government on tertiary students demanding access to education. High tuition fees and government’s incapacity to provide e-learning facilities has impacted negatively on tertiary students from poor backgrounds.
It is unfortunate that the government has responded with brutality to the genuine concerns raised by the tertiary students.
The Covid 19 pandemic has resulted in violation of children’s rights in Zimbabwe, especially the right to education and freedom from degrading treatment. Students at tertiary institutions have been subjected to torture, arbitrary arrests as well as abductions.
The Day of the African Child should serve as a self-reflection exercise for the government of Zimbabwe and we implore authorities to evaluate progress made in ensuring that children are protected from any form of abuse and this should be done in line with the basic tenets of the constitution.
We call upon the Government of Zimbabwe to adopt policies and measures that ensure that every child is protected from violence, abuse or torture, child labour, harmful cultural practices, exploitation and any other form of abuse.
Source: Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition