President Emmerson Mnangagwa is working to materially improve living standards of young Zimbabweans, with a $12,5 million facility for empowerment projects set to be availed through the Youth Empowerment Bank, among other youth-focused initiatives.
His administration’s agenda, he said yesterday, was to place youths at the centre of the country’s development in line with the vision to build a middle-income economy by 2030.
Addressing the 26th Session of the Junior Parliament of Zimbabwe at the City Sports Centre in Harare, President Mnangagwa said: “My Government stands committed to ensure inclusive development for our children, as we grow, modernise and industrialise the economy in line with our Vision 2030.
“Children and the youth will remain at the centre stage and indeed the key beneficiaries of our development agenda.
“In this regard, the Ministry of Youth, Sports, Arts and Recreation and other stakeholders are concertedly exploring strategies to enhance youth participation in the economy,” he said.
Government, he added, was committed to enhancing youths’ participation in the mainstream economy.
The National Youth Policy, he explained, was in line with Section 20 of the Constitution, which speaks to Government taking a lead role in supporting empowerment of young people.
Said President Mnangagwa: “In addition, my Government has put in place deliberate programmes to invest in the youth in order to unlock their full potential so that they are appropriately skilled for the Zimbabwe of tomorrow, which we envisage will be a middle-income country and playing an active part in the global family of nations.”
He said Government wanted the Junior Parliament to sit more frequently to provide youths with a platform to participate in national affairs.
President Mnangagwa said the body should be structured in such a way that it had its own portfolio and thematic committees.
In his remarks, Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Minister Kazembe Kazembe said the Youth Empowerment Bank would be operational soon.
“We are committed to establishing the Youth Empowerment Bank and we are going to make sure that it is up and running in the next few weeks.”
Minister Kazembe said the Junior Parliament provided a unique opportunity for children to communicate with the highest decision-makers in Government.
Child President Innocent Chikwanda bemoaned child abuse and implored Government to strengthen legal statutes to protect children’s rights.
“Your Excellency, child abuse is still rampant, including child marriages. And the law sometimes lets children down, especially when they seek legal recourse. Your Excellency, it is critical that some sections of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, the Education Act, the Guardianship of Minors Act, the Births and Deaths Registration Act, amongst other child protection laws, be aligned with the Constitution of Zimbabwe which its self is a very progressive (piece of) legislation.”
He commended progress made by the new dispensation in increasing textbooks supply and introducing immunisation programmes in schools.
The sitting of the Junior Parliament was marked by animated debate, with Cabinet ministers Patrick Chinamasa (Finance and Economic Development), David Parirenyatwa (Health and Child Care), Ziyambi Ziyambi (Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs), Paul Mavima (Primary and Secondary Education) responding to some of the issues raised.
The Junior Parliament yesterday fittingly sat on the Day of the African Child, which was themed “Leave no child behind for Africa’s development”.
Other dignitaries at the sitting were Speaker of the National Assembly Advocate Jacob Mudenda, Senate President Cde Edna Madzongwe and Unicef country representative Dr Mohamed Ag Ayoya.
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