While government has religiously marked the event held in honour of South African children killed by apartheid police on June 16 1976, it has failed to show the political commitment needed to improve the welfare of the children.
Just yesterday, it was reported that 89 000 children in dire need of life-saving drugs were failing to access ARVs. Other reports revealed that disabled children were increasingly being neglected in Zimbabwe, with no legal instruments to protect them.
As Zimbabwe reflects on the rationale of the day, it is an opportune time to begin a process that will ensure that more resources are channelled towards programmes that make it possible for children to reach their full potential.
So far the state of affairs is dire.
In the rural areas, many children have no access to critical health care as babies are still being delivered by untrained midwives, mostly under unhygienic conditions, making them vulnerable to disability or even death.
Children are also dropping out of schools because the government’s welfare system to support vulnerable children collapsed a long time ago.
In urban areas, children risk contracting cholera and typhoid as they drink water from shallow wells due to lack of potable water. While government officials were wining and dining commemorating the day at a local hotel yesterday, scores of street children were sniffing glue in the alleys just a few metres away.
These problems make it imperative that children’s issues take centre stage in the Government of National Unity which has spent more time and resources trying to solve their political differences at the expense of these critical matters.
Laws also need to be tightened to ensure those who abuse children receive stiff sentences.
Both Zanu PF and MDC formations should take advantage of the constitution-making process to push for a Bill of Rights that will guarantee the rights of children, including those with disabilities who are the most prone to abuse.