Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter
Government in partnership with civil society has set up a fund to move over 4 500 children living and working on the streets of Harare and three other major urban centres to safe places for rehabilitation.
Deputy Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Tapuwa Matangaidze, revealed this in Senate on Thursday.
“At the last count, the Ministry estimated that a total of 4 701 children were living and working on the streets of Harare, Mutare, Bulawayo and Beitbridge.
Last year, a total of 463 were removed from the streets countrywide.
“The exercise of removing these children is a mammoth one which needs assistance from the public, supporting partners and civil society. In order to finance the programme, Government has established the Children on the Streets Fund, which is supported by civil society,” Deputy Minister Matangaidze said.
He said that a taskforce involving various Government departments and cooperating partners had also been established to work towards the removal of the children from the streets.
“As part of the protection exercise, the Ministry with the support of the Multi-sectoral Taskforce for Children Living and Working on the Streets is engaged in an ongoing exercise of removing children from the streets to safe environments.
“One of the functions of the taskforce, which is made up of officials from the Department of Social Welfare, relevant Government departments, civil society organisations and the local authority is to ensure that adults using children to beg on the streets are apprehended by the police,” he said. The harsh economic conditions in the country have resulted in an increase of vulnerable people living and working on the streets of major urban centres.
Government also implements the National Action Plan for Orphans and Vulnerable Children as part of measures to afford access to basic needs that include accommodation, medical care and education.