Like every year, Masvingo Centre for Research Advocacy and Development (MACRAD), on June 16, 2022, joined others in commemoration of the 16th of June 1976 student uprising in Soweto, South Africa, where students who marched in protest against apartheid-inspired education were brutally murdered. The theme for the Day of the African Child (DAC) 2022 is “Eliminating Harmful Practices Affecting Children: Progress on Policy & Practice since 2013”. MACRAD commemorates the day in Chiredzi Rural District Council ward 6 in Chikovo with the Shangaan-speaking communities who are living in fear of being arbitrarily evicted from their ancestral land. The proposed eviction from Chiredzi (RDC) minutes from the special full council meeting of April 30, 2020, will target 678 villages with 2 258 households and 13 840 people. The statistics did not have a clear figure on how many vulnerable groups, such as children and the elderly, were going to be affected.
Arbitrary eviction is one of the major harmful practices affecting children. During forced displacements, children are subjected to the loss of basic social amenities. In Chilonga, the communities and children are afraid of failing to access basic amenities after relocation. They doubt if the government or the investor will provide them with adequate schools, clinics, hospitals, medication, and other critical infrastructure after relocation. Worries were heightened by examples of their forefathers, who were left with nothing after relocation but the suffering of children, many of whom did not recover.The communities blame the government for being the perpetrator in continuing to uphold unconstitutional acts which are being used to suppress the most vulnerable and poorly resourced minority social groups.
In education, communities are failing to raise school fees, which on average at the primary level is $20 USD and the secondary level is $50USD. Many children are being sent off to their parents for failing to pay fees. Apart from school fees, there is a shortage of teachers due to its remoteness, the absence of enough teacher accommodation and a poor transport network. The communities argued that they are currently failing to support their children to engage on online learning platforms due to a number of challenges, such as the absence of smart phones, the high cost of data, network connectivity, among others. The village heads present encouraged the community not to engage in cultural practices that violate children’s rights, such as early child marriage, which is common in the district.
The government failed to respect minority social groups due to a lack of political will and ignore calls from the SDGs, Human Rights Watch, the constitution and international legislation. Education should be affordable, and the state should take its role to ensure that there is proper infrastructure for both learners and teachers, learning resources, and standard salaries for teachers. Vulnerable groups such as women, children, and those with ill-health should also be given more attention in the planning and execution of development-induced relocations.
Source: Masvingo Centre for Research Advocacy and Development (MACRAD)