Thursday, 21 June 2012

MDC Youth Assembly Statement on the Day of the African Child Commemorations

16 June 2012

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDCYA) joins the people of Zimbabwe, Africa, Diaspora of African origin and many others across the world in celebrating the Day of the African Child.  

This year’s commemorations are being held under the theme; “The Rights of Children with Disabilities – The Duty to Protect, Respect, Promote and Fulfill”.

This day gives us an opportunity to celebrate exemplary youthful sacrifice and fondly keep the memories of the massacre of many students who were demonstrating against the discriminatory education policies of the apartheid regime in Soweto, South Africa in June 1976.

The demonstrations are popularly remembered as the Soweto Uprising of 1976 and have changed the face of South African and Africa’s politics thereby showing the critical role the young people can play in the political developments in their countries.

Indeed, the youths across Africa and in Zimbabwe in particular, have a crucial role to play, as they are key stakeholders and agents of change in their respective communities and organisations. Young people bring perspectives, knowledge and relationships that lead to better decision making and more productive action. Thus the youths should always have a voice in decisions that affect them.

This day further presents the youths and governments across the continent to take stock of the progress being made towards provision and access to quality health, education, equality and security for all children and the implementation of the regional African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of Children among other important statutes.

As we celebrate this year’s commemorations, we are also celebrating the lives and selfless contributions made by our departed comrades who were brutally murdered, raped and assaulted by the regime. It is in memory of our dear colleagues like Tonderai Ndira, Thabita Marume, Tonderai Machiridza, Gift Tandare, Better Chokururama, Godfrey Kauzani and many others that we remain encouraged and committed in completing the journey that we started and ensure that we deliver Real Change to the people of Zimbabwe.

Our story and struggle for Real Change will be incomplete if we do not cherish and highlight the important role and sacrifices they made in the struggle for democracy in Zimbabwe.

It is disappointing that the democratic space continues to be closed and youth participation stalled by wanton arrests, victimisation and intimidation. The continued incarceration and persecution of the Youth Assembly President Solomon Madzore and 28 others who have been in remand prison for more than a year now is a case in point.

It is disturbing that these innocent people continue to suffer on insubstantial charges and yet nothing has been done to the perpetrators of the 2008 violence and known Zanu PF thugs who raped, maimed and callously murdered innocent Zimbabweans including women and children.

It is within this context that young people should continue to fight and advocate for the creation of an environment that allows positive youth participation; an environment of tolerance and respect among Zimbabweans and that all citizens are treated with dignity and decency irrespective of age, gender, ethnicity or political affiliation.

As the young people of Zimbabwe we should be brave and take great responsibility of ourselves to avoid being used as political pawns.  The youths should remain a critical component of the decision making processes of this nation and the Assembly would like to encourage all young people to live positively and help in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

We urge all youth to stay away from alcohol, substance and drug abuse, for our destiny needs a focused and capable youth ready to tackle the social ills affecting us.

As we celebrate in recognition of the international Day of the African Child theme; The Rights of Children with Disabilities: The duty to protect, respect, promote and fulfill. The MDCYA believes that the progressive rendering of positive momentum to the demands and concerns of children with disabilities in Zimbabwe is vested in the establishment of a socio-economic and political democracy in Zimbabwe that consistent with the needs and sensitivities of children with disabilities.

This is a critical and yet vulnerable constituency whose life is characterised by stigma, intolerance, unresponsiveness, invisibility and fear that is associated with high levels of abuse. It is in our interest as the youth that we maximise support and efforts towards the protection and fulfilment of their fundamental rights.


To this noble end, it is the belief of the MDCYA that the establishment of a democratic system will naturally offer ample public space for the broadening of social and economic support systems for children living with disabilities as well as social enterprises that was pioneered by true national heroes like the late Baba Jairos Jiri whose dedication and contribution to the cause of children with disabilities cannot be overstated.

The role of a robust, efficient and non-discriminatory education system – which was the driving force behind the Soweto Uprisings in 1976 – remains central in the achievement of public fairness and solidarity for children living with disabilities in the whole of independent Africa, and Zimbabwe in particular.

Thus, the MDCYA advocates for the unveiling of more private and public financial and technical support for the purpose of skills development for children with disabilities in ICT, the arts disciplines like music, crafts, etc., and other mainstream socio-economic and political concerns. The MDCYA envisages the national installation of a higher and tertiary education curriculum that is satisfactory to the needs of the country.

Ii is in this vein, that the MDCYA commends the current Constitution-making process in Zimbabwe for affording all people including those with disabilities the critical participatory space.  The new Constitution should therefore, clearly spell out and guarantee their rights. It then becomes our duty and mandate to ensure the protection, promotion, respect and fulfillment of these rights.

The MDCYA will therefore continue to rally its vibrant efforts towards the satisfactory conclusion of the Constitutional reform exercise and the democratization agenda in Zimbabwe.

The MDCYA further calls upon the Global Political Agreement negotiators, the political principals and the SADC facilitation team to ensure that all agreed reforms are implemented and come up with a clear and comprehensive election roadmap that will address the current stalemate in the inclusive government and pave way for peaceful, free and fair elections.

The young people of Zimbabwe’s desires are to see a corrupt free government led by an accountable, reputable and transparent leadership, where jobs, quality and affordable education, health, genuine social and economic upliftment of all people is guaranteed. This, by no doubt, is a government of excellence and only the MDC is capable of delivering such a government as decided by the people of Zimbabwe in March 2008 and will be confirmed once again in the coming elections.

As we commemorate this year’s Day of the African Child, lest we forget that all the wishes and concerns of the young people will only be realized when everyone exercises his or her democratic right of voting for the leadership of their choice.

The MDCYA, therefore, would like to encourage all the young people of Zimbabwe to register as voters, to vote and jealously guard their vote against known election fraudsters. 

For and on behalf of the Youth of Zimbabwe

Clifford Hlatywayo

MDC YA Spokesperson

Together to end,building a youth with a difference.

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