‘Regional Children’s Day celebrations inspiring’ Vice President Kembo Mohadi (right), Namibian President Hage Geingob (centre) and Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi attend the UNICEF Children’s Day together with children from their respective countries at NAMPORT, Walvis Bay, Namibia on Sunday.

Herald Reporter

JOINT regional celebrations of the World Children’s Day are a source of innovation and inspiration as they demonstrate what is possible when communities, the political leadership and young people come together, President Mnangagwa has said.

The President said this last night in remarks delivered on his behalf by Vice President Kembo Mohadi in Walvis Bay, Namibia during commemorations of the World Children’s Day.

President Mnangagwa said it was heartening to see children taking a leading role in matters that concern them.

“There is a need, therefore, to empower children with knowledge of their rights coupled with responsibilities therein, to encourage them to report abuse and advocate for their needs,” said President Mnangagwa.

“Thank you for bringing attention to the critical issues pertaining to the rights of children.

“It is essential that we recognise and address the challenges faced by children around the world and especially in the SADC region.”

The President said there was a need to turn words into actions to create a better future for children.

About 100 children from Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana and Zambia, raised issues about healthcare and protection from exploitation, to which President Mnangagwa said the four countries “must strive to make them a reality for all”.

“As the primary duty bearers, we stand ready to act and meet our obligations. You have inspired us to remain united and we commit to do so to ensure that every child’s fundamental rights are not only recognised but fiercely protected and promoted.

“Our focus on children’s meaningful participation during this commemoration is a testament of our governments’ commitment to creating a conducive environment for the promotion of your rights,” said President Mnangagwa.

Apart from safeguarding children’s rights, the President said empowering children to have a voice in matters that affect them is integral to building a truly inclusive society.

The children also said they were being adversely affected by the impact of climate change and conflicts.

President Mnangagwa thanked the children for bringing the issues to the attention of Heads of State and Government.

“We shall indeed make sure that we deliver on that,” he said.

The establishment of the Zimbabwe Junior Parliament and Junior Council, reflects the commitment towards empowering children through participation and ensuring that their voices are heard in decision-making processes.

Turning to the issue of drugs and substance abuse, President Mnangagwa said it is essential to prioritise prevention and education programmes that raise awareness about the dangers of drugs, substance abuse, and harmful practices.

“By providing children with accurate information, we can empower them to make informed decisions and resist peer pressure,” he said.

President Mnangagwa congratulated the Child vice president of Zimbabwe, Theophilus Beans, for inventing a smart walking stick to aid persons with visual impairments.

“This level of innovation is really commendable. These are the fruits of Zimbabwe’s Education 5.0, which embraces technological developments allowing learners to explore and innovate, bringing solutions to our people. Well done,” he said.

President Mnangagwa said as the next host of the Joint Regional Celebrations of the World Children’s Day, Zimbabwe remains committed to the promotion and protection of the rights of the child.

Namibia President Dr Hage Geingob said his government will continue to protect the rights of children.

He said education will continue to be supported to ensure every child benefits.

Botswana President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi said they are rolling out high speed internet to all schools while laptops would be provided to all learners and their teachers.

President Masisi implored young people to love their countries and communities, adding that those that don’t get jobs after school should not despair, but find ways of creating employment themselves.

Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema was represented by Minister of Community Development and Social Services, Ms Doreen Mwamba, who said there is a need for continued determination by the leaders of Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and her country.

She said they only enacted a law that protects children last year.

Unicef regional director — Eastern and Southern Africa region — Ms Eva Kadilli said it was important that children’s rights were protected “to protect our future”.

Zimbabwe Child president Neville Mavu said they religiously meet President Mnangagwa on the occasion of the official opening of the Children’s Parliament.

“We have a permanent slot at the pre-Budget seminar at which platform we share children’s budget priorities with Parliament and the Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion,” he said.

Mavu said as COP28 beckons, they also want the issue of climate change to be dealt with decisively.

He praised his deputy for inventing a smart walking stick that senses danger for the visually impaired when using it.

This year’s celebrations build on the momentum created in Botswana in 2021 and Zambia last year.

The 2023 World Children’s Day regional celebrations are an opportunity for the four Heads of State to renew their promises for the rights of children and ensuring no child is left behind.

A Zimbabwean girl, Nozipho Tshuma, was one of the directors of ceremony.

As the event was starting, Namibian Paralympic gold medallist, Ms Johanna Benson, arrived with the World Children’s Day Torch of Hope.

The Torch of Hope was handed over to Zimbabwe, which will host the commemorations next year.

South Africa songstress, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, entertained the guests.

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