By Rangarirayi Sithole in Gokwe
Gokwe South District commemorated the day of the African Child in style. On Thursday, the second of July Gokwe residents braved the cold weather during a march to commemorate the day of the African Child. The event started with a march from the Government Complex and moved to different parts and ended at Open Square. Pastor Ronald Shumba of the Lutheran Church provided the opening prayer and the director of ceremonies, Councilor Chigaba explained to the residents who were present about the event. The commemoration started by marching from the Government Complex to the Open Square near Spar Magic Moment. The marching was led by children of Gokwe Primary School and St Agnes Primary School. These primary school children were leading the crowd performing the dumbbells while playing marimba. Among the Government departments who were represented were Zimbabwe Republic Police, Ministry of Public Service, Labor and Social Welfare, Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development, Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education and Zimbabwe Election Commission. Some councilors were also present, councilor M. Mafa, D. Nyamukasa, D. Taruvinga, F. Mapfunde and E. Senga. He brought the Gokwe South business to a standstill and left the crowd asking for more. Mrs. Polite Matibiri read the speech of the Secretary General of Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe Reverend Lindani Dube. “Our theme as the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe which is a body representing over five hundred member body Churches is ‘child abuse is a serious violation of the children’s rights, strengthening mechanism and strategies for the elimination of the early marriage,” said Reverend Dube. In the speech, it emerged that child marriage is now widely recognized as a violation of children’s rights. The girl child has been deprived of basic rights to health, education, development and equality. Poverty continues to play a pivotal role in perpetuating child marriages as girls in poor families are more vulnerable to child marriages. The cost of education and the expenses which are associated with bringing up a girl child are avoided by pushing a girl child to early marriage. The junior Minister of Lands and Rural Settlement Honourable Naledi Ntini who is currently doing Form Three at Njelele High Secondary School also delivered her speech. She said parents should understand the plight of the young people, girls especially. “Even if severe hunger and hardships strike, parents should not push their children into marriage. The Government must impose stiff penalties on perpetrators of child abuse.” This journalist interviewed many people who attended the event and among them was Mrs. Hove, the Sister in charge of family and child health department in the Ministry of Health and child care. She said child sexual abuse is on the rise and the perpetrators of sexual abuse are mostly relatives.