President Mugabe has reiterated that rapists, especially those who abuse minors, do not have a place in society and hinted they will soon be dealt with using measures commensurate with their diabolic acts. The President said the rape of young children was cruel and should be stopped. He was speaking at Day ofthe African Child Commemorations and official opening of the 24th Session of the Children’s Parliament at City Sports Centre in Harare yesterday.
President Mugabe said Government – and the Presidency in particular – cherished children as future leaders. “The rape of young children, girls raped, little children, three-years-old, four-years-old, five-years-old and six-years-old – that practice is not just diabolic, it is evil, it is cruel and must be stopped and stopped immediately. We have said perhaps we will adopt very stern measures in the future to stop it.
“And I would want to warn our men that unless it is stopped immediately, our men will have to face, certainly face, what we might call very, very inhuman treatment of individuals. I won’t spell them out.
“I am a farmer, just having grown with grandmother, grandfathers who were peasant farmers, who wanted to grow our cattle. We could not keep too many bulls, small bulls, we knew what to do with them, we give them treatment, that treatment will apply to humans as well.”
President Mugabe also commended Youth Ministry and that of Primary and Secondary Education for producing vibrant and disciplined Child Parliamentarians. “I will assure you that the President, the Presidency, will always regard our children as our future. I am here, but once upon a time was like you. I am not like you, I am on my way out. But when I look back I want to see young men and women who are brave, courageous, disciplined and you won’t be just like me, but better than me.
“That is what we fight for, not just be like our parents, but to be better, better than our parents. That is what development is all about. Yes, we are like others in the first place, but be better.”
President Mugabe said because of their determination to develop, the Chinese have moved from being poor to become a nation to that others aspired to emulate. The Day of the African Child is held in memory of the Soweto students massacre of June 16, 1976. South African students were murdered by the apartheid regime for protesting against an oppressive education system.
President Mugabe said that massacre was similar to the killing of children at liberation struggle bases such as Chimoio in Mozambique. “I visited the museum marking massacre of the South African children, those massacred in 1976. I visited the museum about two years ago and you can’t visit it without tears in your eyes,” said President Mugabe.
“After (the visit), I was very angry and said I don’t want to see the face of a white men near me. And obviously, that was in anger. So you can see some of the damage done to us who were in the struggle for our own liberation. The students were just demonstrating against being forced to learn a language that they did not want to learn in school, but the Afrikaners, who were in control, these are the people who were originally Dutch and came to Africa, you know their history, and eventually won an election around 1948 around then and began to introduce that they wanted their own language, Afrikaans to be taught. So that wherever you went, Afrikaans at the top and English at the bottom. That is what (former South Africa President Nelson) Mandela was against.
“Here, it was similar. We had injustices perpetrated by Ian Smith. We were kept like sheep, like goats. So there were these ‘keeps’ in which men women and children were locked up. But at our own Independence we said by-gones are by-gones, we don’t want to revenge, that is the past we have had.”
President Mugabe said he had a keen interest in the activities of the Children’s Parliament. He said the manner in which they had debated on this year’s theme – “Investing in Children and Youth for an Empowered Society and Growing in Order to Prevent Conflict and Crisis and Protect Children’s Rights – showed their confidence and reflected well on them.
The President said the platform afforded young people an opportunity to participate in national policy formulation processes.
“We cannot refer to the youths as the leaders of tomorrow without affording them the opportunity to step into the leadership space.” President Mugabe said there were Government strategies to develop a framework for youth economic empowerment and development — the National Economic Empowerment and the Zimbabwe Youth Empowerment for Investment (Zim-YES).
He said the conduct of Child Parliamentarians was a challenge to senior Government officials and legislators to be in constant touch with their constituents.