‘Take care, your life is so dear’

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - ANALYSIS & OPINION -

We pub­lish Pres­i­dent Mu­gabe’s full speech at the Day of the African Child com­mem­o­ra­tions which co­in­cided with the sil­ver ju­bilee of the Ju­nior Par­lia­ment at the City Sports Cen­tre in Harare yes­ter­day.

THE First Lady Amai Grace Mu­gabe

The Hon­ourable Vice Pres­i­dent Emmerson Mnan­gagwa;

Hon­ourable Vice Pres­i­dent Phelekezela Mphoko;

The Hon­ourable Pres­i­dent of the Se­nate Edna Mad­zongwe;

The Hon­ourable Speaker of the House of As­sem­bly Ad­vo­cate Jacob Mu­denda;

The Hon­ourable Min­is­ter of Pro­vin­cial Af­fairs for Harare Metropoli­tan Prov­ince Mai Miriam Chikukwa;

The Hon­ourable Min­is­ter of Youth Pa­trick Zhuwao; Hon­ourable Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment; Se­nior Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials here present;

Mem­bers of the Diplo­matic Com­mu­nity here present;

The Pres­i­dent of the Ju­nior Par­lia­ment of Zim­babwe Takudzwa Mhuru;

The Hon­ourable Speaker of the Ju­nior Par­lia­ment Juliet Rori;

Hon­ourable Mem­bers of Ju­nior Par­lia­ment; In­vited guests, com­rades and friends. With joy and ex­cite­ment, we are here to com­mem­o­rate the Day of the African Child and to cel­e­brate the sil­ver ju­bilee of the Ju­nior Par­lia­ment of Zim­babwe.

May I con­grat­u­late the lead­er­ship of the Ju­nior Par­lia­ment and in­deed all Ju­nior Par­lia­men­tar­i­ans and the Zim­babwe Youth Coun­cil for suc­cess­fully or­gan­is­ing the Ju­nior Par­lia­ment for the past 25 years.

Ladies and gen­tle­men, this year’s com­mem­o­ra­tion and the sil­ver ju­bilee cel­e­bra­tion is un­der the theme “Ap­pre­ci­at­ing, Dis­cov­er­ing Zimcheer En­trepreneurs as a way of Ac­cel­er­at­ing, Pro­tec­tion, Em­pow­er­ment and Equal Op­por­tu­nity to­wards ful­fill­ing the 2030 agenda of Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment of Chil­dren in Africa”.

This very long theme has been de­signed to have three main com­po­nents that talk to the eco­nomic, po­lit­i­cal and so­cial par­tic­i­pa­tion of young peo­ple.

I am ad­vised that these three will be de­bated in three sit­tings in pur­suance of the res­o­lu­tion of the 24th ses­sion of the Ju­nior Par­lia­ment of Zim­babwe.

Ladies and gen­tle­men, Guided by Sec­tion 20 of our Con­sti­tu­tion, Gov­ern­ment has taken mea­sures to en­sure that young peo­ple be­tween the ages of 15 and 35 years are af­forded op­por­tu­ni­ties for em­ploy­ment and other av­enues to eco­nomic em­pow­er­ment.

We have thus adopted a na­tional youth pol­icy that seeks to em­power the youth through cre­at­ing an en­vi­ron­ment which en­ables them to reach their full po­ten­tial, eco­nom­i­cally, po­lit­i­cally and so­cially.

In or­der to mit­i­gate the chal­lenges that our youths face in ac­cess­ing ven­ture cap­i­tal and other forms of fi­nance to up­scale their busi­ness, Gov­ern­ment has now ap­proved the open­ing of a mi­cro fi­nance in­sti­tu­tion, through the is­suance of an op­er­at­ing li­cense for Twin­stock Cap­i­tal, as a step to­wards the es­tab­lish­ment of a fully fledged Em­power-Bank.

The mi­cro-fi­nance bank is set to build and up­scale the op­er­a­tions of young en­trepreneurs.

The Indi­geni­sa­tion and Eco­nomic Em­pow­er­ment Min­istry has also iden­ti­fied 39 385 young en­trepreneurs who have cre­ated 93 692 jobs un­der the Zim­babwe Cham­pi­ons and he­roes of the Eco­nomic Em­pow­er­ment Rev­o­lu­tion (ZIMCHEER).

Gov­ern­ment re­alises the need to em­power young peo­ple now, so as to up­scale their skills and busi­nesses, thus bring­ing them into the main­stream econ­omy. Gov­ern­ment also con­tin­ues to ex­plore av­enues of in­te­grat­ing the youths in the main­stream econ­omy through the in­clu­sion of the youth in the four clus­ters if ZimAs­set.

This will be achieved through an­chor com­pa­nies namely Youth Feed Zim­babwe (Food Se­cu­rity and Nu­tri­tion Clus­ter); Youth Shape Zim­babwe (Util­i­ties and In­fra­struc­ture Clus­ter); Youth Em­ploy Zim­babwe (Poverty Erad­i­ca­tion and So­cial Ser­vices Clus­ter); and Youth Make Zim­babwe (Ben­e­fi­ci­a­tion and value Ad­di­tion Clus­ter).

As we re­flect on this theme, we cast our minds back at the in­vest­ments we have made in our youths since the at­tain­ment of our in­de­pen­dence.

In ed­u­ca­tion, the Gov­ern­ment has pri­ori­tised the ex­ten­sion of the ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor.

While in 1980 pri­mary schools had nearly 1 235 994 pupils, it has now risen to over 3 mil­lion, rep­re­sent­ing a 244 per­cent.

Sec­ondary schools en­rol­ment in 1980 was 74 321 stu­dents and has now risen to 936 734, rep­re­sent­ing a 1 260 per­cent in­crease.

Our ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tions have also dras­ti­cally in­creased from one univer­sity in 1980 with an en­rol­ment of just 2 000 to now nine state uni­ver­si­ties with a com­bined en­rol­ment of 69 000. Teach­ers’ col­leges and poly­tech­nics in­deed ex­pe­ri­enced sim­i­lar phe­nom­e­nal rise and this in­cludes other ter­tiary and in­sti­tu­tions made by churches.

In 1991 when Zim­babwe rat­i­fied the United Na­tions Con­ven­tion on the Rights and Wel­fare of Chil­dren, we as Zimbabweans ac­cepted to per­form our part and we have since been do­ing our best.

Gov­ern­ment there­fore re­gards the de­vel­op­ment of our chil­dren as a very im­por­tant pro­gramme for the coun­try and also Africa in gen­eral.

This there­fore has led us to the es­tab­lish­ment of a Ju­nior Par­lia­ment, an in­sti­tu­tion mainly for our youth and for their de­vel­op­ment so that as they act in this in­sti­tu­tion they will be train­ing to be our fu­ture lead­ers, fu­ture min­is­ters and for other walks in life. But Ju­nior Par­lia­ment is also an im­por­tant chan­nel for Gov­ern­ment to build young peo­ple on the progress, feed­back in ad­dress­ing their ex­pressed con­cerns.

The chil­dren come with their con­cerns and ex­pres­sion in Par­lia­ment and then there is an in­ter­ac­tion with the min­is­ters and that way we get to know what our chil­dren feel and then what we can do in shap­ing and im­prov­ing our sys­tem of ed­u­ca­tion so it can then be suited to their own con­cerns and the con­cerns of na­tion nat­u­rally.

This Day of the African child which we com­mem­o­rate through the Ju­nior Par­lia­ment, as you know, is de­rived from the in­ci­dent in South Africa that hap­pened on the 16th of June quite a num­ber of years ago when chil­dren who were demon­strat­ing against apartheid were shot at and quite a num­ber of them died.

I vis­ited where they are buried and when you get there you re­ally feel that apartheid was dev­il­ish and you feel also that those who did it can­not be for­given, but they were for­given and we still have the Afrikan­ers in South Africa recog­nised as a peo­ple. It was their gov­ern­ment which did it. The chil­dren were demon­strat­ing against the forced teach­ing of Africans in their schools, they didn’t want to learn Afrikaans, but the na­tion­al­ist gov­ern­ment was forc­ing every­one to learn Afrikaans.

So as a re­sult, hun­dreds of African youths lost their lives at their hands, the hands of apartheid op­pres­sors.

But as we re­flect on that, I would like to urge you not to take your rights and free­dom for granted.

I hope also in South Africa they are not tak­ing their rights and free­dom for granted.

And they should be given great re­spect from the gov­ern­ment, the congress (ANC) there, but for us these rights and free­doms that we en­joy to­day are a prod­uct of a lot of in­no­cent souls that lost their blood.

Shed by my cadres whose graves in some cases lie in Mozam­bique, oth­ers in Zam­bia, in Mozam­bique at Chi­moio, Nyad­zonya, Zam­bia Free­dom Camp and other places.

Among the hun­dreds and thou­sands of peo­ple who died dur­ing the lib­er­a­tion strug­gle were chil­dren.

Those who died in the camps were not nec­es­sar­ily all fight­ers. Some of them were refugees, some were lit­tle kids that crossed over with their par­ents, some hav­ing left school but be­ing too young to go for train­ing. So they were in these camps, but the Rhode­sians were mer­ci­less, they were bomb­ing these with bombs.

How­ever, we have said by­gones are by­gones, but we shall never for­get these acts of bru­tal­ity that were com­mit­ted on us and our chil­dren, so we do not for­get, we shall re­mem­ber them. So, do not take our free­dom for granted. We do not take our free­dom for granted and we con­tinue to re­spect nat­u­rally those of our cadres who are still alive for the fight that they put up and from their acts.

But as we re­flect on that, we should de­rive the courage and de­ter­mi­na­tion also to look at Zim­babwe as a coun­try whose in­de­pen­dence was hard earned.

And as Gov­ern­ment tries to de­velop our na­tion, you in school, oth­ers else­where per­haps work­ing, all of us, ev­ery one of us must bear in mind all the time, con­stantly, that we who are alive are in­her­i­tors of the re­sult of that strug­gle, the blood that was shed and so when we are at school we should take our school­ing very very se­ri­ously be­cause the ad­van­tage that you have is the ad­van­tage ac­cru­ing from the sac­ri­fices that were made by those who are gone, who sac­ri­ficed for our in­de­pen­dence.

So we are happy when we see you com­mit­ted as you are to go through your cour­ses, to go through your learn­ing so you can be keep­ers of our in­de­pen­dence, keep­ers of Zim­babwe in ev­ery as­pect of it.

There is there­fore the leg­endary strug­gle that must al­ways move your hearts, your con­sciences, speak of it just as we do the strug­gle of our an­ces­tors, our an­ces­tors in mind, anaKaguvi ana Ne­handa Loben­gula nevamwe vese.

Taka­mut­siridzwa pfungwa dzedu nez­vavakaita takaratidzwa gwara rekutev­era naMbuya Ne­handa pavakati map­fupa angu achamuka, ende aka­muka zve­chok­wadi. Ku­muka kwavaireva ndek­wekuti vana vachauya vac­ha­zonge vachir­wisa mab­hunu. Ndoz­vatakaita, saka imiwo toda kukusi­irai nhaka iy­oyo yeZim­babwe yakar­wirwa ikafirwa. But for now we say don’t waste your time at school, be se­ri­ous stu­dents as you fin­ish your cour­ses.

Choose where to go, what work to do. Some we hope will be­come sol­diers, some of you, some will be­come po­lice­men and po­lice­women, oth­ers will want to run busi­nesses, still oth­ers will hold up­per po­si­tions of ad­min­is­ter­ing the coun­try as min­is­ters, as per­form­ers in Gov­ern­ment and I’m sure they will be many.

Gov­ern­ment is not just min­is­ters, it’s not just vaMu­gabe and his Cab­i­net.

Yes we are the ex­ec­u­tive, but there is also the leg­is­la­ture. So we are happy to hear that here are some lawyers al­ready who have emerged from your midst. There is also the ju­di­ciary, the Cab­i­net, some of you I hope will end up in these three parts of Gov­ern­ment.

May I con­grat­u­late our Min­istry of Indi­geni­sa­tion on to­day’s pro­gram.

It has been en­hanced in a man­ner that en­com­passes not just par­lia­men­tary pro­gram, but to in­clude our pro­gram as youths in schools and I do hope that this in fu­ture will con­tinue. —

But we still want to see the as­pect of Par­lia­ment con­tinue in a much more dis­tinct way. So I con­clude by urg­ing our youth to look into the fu­ture with hope, con­fi­dence and de­ter­mi­na­tion, know­ing that the fu­ture is firmly in your hands.

You should be proud and con­fi­dent know­ing that you have a Gov­ern­ment that has you at heart.

We can never say we are in­de­pen­dent, we are free with­out putting that free­dom and in­de­pen­dence into prac­tice and turn­ing, as I have of­ten said, our in­de­pen­dence and free­dom which was the ob­jec­tive as we fought the strug­gle, but now it’s not the strug­gle, that sense of fight­ing and we turn the free­dom into de­vel­op­ing our coun­try.

We have to use it to de­velop our coun­try and the de­vel­op­ment of our na­tion can­not hap­pen with­out de­vel­op­ing chil­dren, de­vel­op­ing you as stu­dents so you can be our suc­ces­sors to­mor­row.

I’m glad to al­ways be ex­posed to a group of stu­dents ev­ery year who have dis­tin­guished them­selves, yes those are per­haps the more in­tel­lec­tu­ally gifted, but my hap­pi­ness is greater when I re­alise that so many of our young peo­ple are at school and that so many chil­dren are en­rolled at the right age in our schools and that is what de­lights us be­cause it means all our peo­ple will emerge lit­er­ate with some mod­icum of skills here and there.

Whether or not you per­fected the skills of high na­ture, but at least they re­main lit­er­ate and we want ev­ery one of our chil­dren to reach at least 11 years of ed­u­ca­tion that is at least ‘O’ level, but if they can get fur­ther and be­come de­greed, be di­ploma hold­ers, that is still bet­ter.

We have stu­dents some­times los­ing their op­por­tu­ni­ties by be­ing rough, not dis­ci­plined suf­fi­ciently and want­ing to be im­moral when they are still pur­su­ing their cour­ses.

Some get ad­dicted to drugs, to drink­ing. Please, leave these killers alone, leave these killers alone. Even when you are grown up, ma­ture and you have grad­u­ated, they will de­stroy your lives.

And I’m not just say­ing to you as stu­dents now but even as grad­u­ates to­mor­row, as mar­ried peo­ple to­mor­row.

Many have been de­stroyed by drink­ing, by drugs.

Many have been de­stroyed by im­moral­ity.

We have HIV, which has taken of quite a big per­cent­age of our pop­u­la­tion.

Take care, take care, your life is dear, dear to you, dear to your par­ents and dear to us.

We need you, we love you, please keep alive.

The free­dom we en­joy to­day is an op­por­tu­nity to de­velop your­self, de­velop your coun­try, guard it jeal­ously, guard the op­por­tu­nity that you have jeal­ously.

We will con­tinue to think of you, to work for you, to plan for you and plan for those also who come af­ter you and that is the work that our Gov­ern­ment is do­ing.

May you also re­spond to the work, re­spect your teach­ers, your par­ents, re­spect each other. That is the kind of stu­dents we have. Take your stud­ies se­ri­ously. Your stud­ies mat­ter zvimwe zvose zvichat­ev­era.

Ku­rai zvakanaka net­sika dzeku­danana pachenyu, kushandi­rana pachenyu, kuter­era vabereki, kuter­era mu­rawo, kuzvipa munhu woga woga zvaanosun­girwa kuter­era kuti ichi ne­ichi hati­ite, ichi nechichi tinoita, saka un­o­sun­gir­wawo newe kuzviter­era.

Thank you, it is now my honour and priv­i­lege to de­clare the 25th ses­sion of the ju­nior par­lia­ment of Zim­babwe of­fi­cially open.

Ju­nior Pres­i­den­tial Guard sol­diers fol­low pro­ceed­ings at the of­fi­cial open­ing of the Ju­nior Par­lia­ment and Day of the African Child com­mem­o­ra­tions at the City Sports Cen­tre in Harare yes­ter­day. Pic­ture: Be­lieve Nyakud­jara

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