“We have also seen the culture of using the youth in political violence. Some are using their wealth, most of it ill gotten, to negatively influence young people into committing heinous crimes,” Tsvangirai said, in an address to mark the Day of the African Child.
“This must stop if we want our society to live peacefully and to fully promote children’s rights.”
In a thinly veiled attack on Zanu PF, which is allegedly sponsoring terror gang, Chipangano, Tsvangirai said many youths had lost “life and limb” after engaging in political violence at a time when they should be preaching tolerance.
Chipangano has been accused of unleashing a reign of terror, particularly in Mbare, where people who do not support Zanu PF are routinely thrown out of their vending stalls, while some are assaulted.
Tsvangirai continued on the offensive, but again without mentioning anyone specific, saying some parties were dislodging children from schools for their own political end, much to the detriment of the youth.
“Another disturbing trend is the abuse of children for political mileage. We have often seen politicians using school premises for meetings, thereby dislodging pupils from their classrooms,” he continued.
The prime minister said a number of children had also lost their parents during the liberation struggle and violent skirmishes after independence.
“This calls for a change in attitude especially among politicians. We must foster a culture of tolerance that allows people to be free to choose which football team or political party to support,” he said.
However, in a prepared speech which was made available to the media after the event, Tsvangirai had pointed out the effects of the Gukurahundi massacres of the 1980s and the 2008 political violence.
Many believe Tsvangirai backed down from saying that in respect of President Robert Mugabe, who was the guest of honour at the function, which also saw the inauguration of the 20th child parliament.