Child sexual & drug abuse dominate discussions at junior parliament

By Wellington Makonese

ZIMBABWEAN children have been urged to shun drugs and substance abuse by President Emmerson Mnangagwa while he also commended the efforts being made by the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Drugs and Substance abuse.

Officially opening the 30th junior parliament and the commemoration of the International Day of the African child in Harare, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said his government will do all it can to make the young feel loved in their country.

” I commend the efforts of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Drugs and Substance abuse that we set up to help the young people realise the dangers associated with drug and substance abuse,” said the President.

“More work must be done with regards to realising
targets of a drug free society. The Committee, law
enforcement agencies, families and communities in
general must continue to work together to deal decisively with drug cartels, including their supply chains.

“To augment these efforts, the establishment of
functional, fully equipped and modern multi-purpose youth recreational centres and other facilities in communities right across the country must be accelerated. I assure you our young people that my Government stands ready to support programmes and projects to ensure that you enjoy fulfilling lives with broad opportunities,” pledged President Mnangagwa.

The 30th session of the Junior Parliament was a platform for junior legislators to interrogate legislation and practices in the face of a surge in child marriages and cases of drug and substance abuse.

After conducting a colorful children’s guard of honor and drills resembling that of their senior counterparts, the newly elected child President, Unathi Nyoni who took over from Hazel Mandaza delivered his maiden speech centering on the task that lies ahead of his tenure.

“I am grateful for the trust and honor bestowed on me, the task is huge but grateful that government through President Mnangagwa has been placing laws that favor youths,” he said.

The child legislators moved motions and debates that gave an insight of contemporary youth challenges from substance abuse to early marriages and some forms of exploitation.

“Where I come from in Mt Darwin, child marriages are cultural, yes we have legislation but how do we come to put an end to it beyond being laws?” asked one junior legislator.

“We are a diverse society with people with different impairments, our plea is that we have formal diversity quotas and allow for mandatory participation in establishment of inclusive structures in schools.

“Drug abuse cases are rampant, youth need more options besides education, at the same time some are then forced into early marriages because old people are greedy,” said another junior legislator.

Junior parliament has been instrumental in amplifying voices of children and youth and honours the sacrifice made by the south African youths on June 16 1976 in soweto.