Day of the African Child Celebrations - 2010
By Tapuwa L. Mutseyekwa
As Africa celebrated the day of the African Child on 16th June, the inclusive Government of Zimbabwe, the African Union, civil society and UNICEF joined and concurred that budgeting for the wellbeing of the Zimbabwean child is indeed a collective responsibility. This year’s commemorations were marked by the opening of the 18th session of the Children’s Parliament, an institution established in Zimbabwe raise children’s participation in the decision making processes.
Celebrated under the theme “Planning and Budgeting for the Wellbeing of the Child: A Collective Responsibility” the day reminded policy makers of the need to bridge the gap between political will and financial commitments for children on the continent. The celebrations in Zimbabwe started with the opening of the Children’s Parliament, followed by celebrations of children at the UNICEF Compound and closed with an advocacy dinner.
The events were attended by the President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, Vice President, John Nkomo, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Deputy Prime Minister Professor Arthur Mutambara and Vice President Thokozani Khupe also made strong pledges aimed at improving the welfare of all Zimbabwe’s children. In addition, there was representation from the African Union Commissioner for Social Affairs, Advocate Bience Gawanas, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, Ms. Yvonne Chaka Chaka and UNICEF ESAR Director, Dr. Elhadji As Sy.
The Children’s Parliament in Zimbabwe has over the last 18 years proved to be strategic avenue through which children can present their concerns to the main parliament and further seek clarity on gaps in their welfare. Yet this innovative system suffers from limited resource allocation.
Child President, Nigel Gwanzura said, “Child Parliament is operating on a Zero budget, and yet there many programmes we plan to deliver in our term.”
Speaking at the parliament session, Advocate Gawanas highlighted the AU’s optimism of the inclusive Government’s ability to meet the basic social needs of children through rebuilding Zimbabwe’s social sector.
“There are visible efforts of the Inclusive Government to accelerate the revival of the economy and rebuilding of the basic social services in the country and the AU is optimistic that this will ensure the better results for children.”
Speaking at the same occasion, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, Ms. Yvonne Chaka Chaka, challenged the Principals of the inclusive Government to deliver on the promises and commitments made to their electorate. “Let those you lead live to enjoy your leadership: you cannot be a leader without followers”.
In his remarks to the child parliamentarians, the Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe, emphasised that the economy and making resources available to children and young people was pivotal in attaining children’s rights in Africa.
UNICEF regional director, Dr, Elhadji As Sy, pointed out that many of the challenges faced by Zimbabwean children were not unique. In different parts of Africa women and children were still not prioritised in national development plans and state budgets.
“Many of the millions of African children who do not live to see their fifth birthday could be saved with greater investment in basic health services and infrastructure.” Dr. As Sy said.