The Sunday Mail
Fungi Kwaramba in KAZUNGULA, Botswana
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa yesterday implored children to be disciplined, hardworking, respectful and also abstain from drugs and wayward behaviour if they are to be competitive in a globalised world.
Speaking in an interactive session with children drawn from Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and Namibia during the World Children’s Day forum that was held here yesterday, President Mnangagwa said while children have their expectations, their governments also expect good behaviour from them.
“Today’s interactive meeting informs us leaders what you think we should do for you. But you should also apply your minds on what you think we as your leaders should do for you, for us to help. We want discipline. Respect your parents, respect your teachers, lecturers and professors. Abstain from drugs and wayward living, that is what we would want you to be. We feel better that you the young, who are going to be leaders of these countries — these communities, are discussing these issues,” said the President.
Zimbabwe’s young people were represented by Nkosilathi Nyathi, a UNICEF climate change activist from Victoria Falls who passionately pleaded with the regional leaders to give children space to express themselves.
President Mnangagwa said in the past it was rare for children to be afforded platforms where they would interact with their leaders, but now times have changed and the progressive leaders of today have roped children on board to hear their concerns.
“I am really thrilled and impressed that President (Botswana President Mokgweetsi) Masisi thought he should assemble us to discuss these issues. I have no doubt that leaders would want to leave behind a society that is focused, a society that is competitive, we are living in a digital world and it is necessary, therefore, that we teach you digital technology as early as possible,” the President said.
President Mnangagwa joined his Botswana counterpart Dr Masisi, Namibian President Hage Geingob and Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema at the quadripoint where Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana and Zambia meet.
This year’s annual World Children’s Day was held under the theme, “Reimagining the Future”, a new initiative that seeks to give children and young people the space to engage in defining the vision they want for their future and future generations.
The Kazungula Bridge was lit in blue, symbolising that children have no limitations to their hopes and aspirations.
“This occasion gives an opportunity to us the leaders to hear the children express themselves, their aspirations and what they expect from us. But before I go into detail, I would like to challenge the children; besides expecting us to do things for you, we as leaders also have expectations of you,” said President Mnangagwa.
“Our education systems, in the respective countries, it is necessary that we begin to address issues of capacitating our young people, from primary to secondary and institutions of higher learning, we need to create an environment where you can excel, where those who have talents can express themselves”.
The President said as young men and women, their generation used to aspire to be teachers’ clerks and nurses, with fluency in English a status symbol, but now times have changed.
“Our education was structured not to make us think about creating products and services, to modernise and industrialise our nations, but today this has changed and the burden is now on you.
“It is critically important in my view that we structure an environment where your views find channels into policy formulation and implementation,” he said.
The Second Republic has introduced several interventions that have improved the lives of children, including among other facilities, the Women’s Bank, a Youth Empowerment Bank, and a desk for youths at every ministry. The President also has a special advisor on people with disabilities.
It has brought in innovation hubs at tertiary institutions, giving young innovative minds platforms to blossom and help in the modernisation and industrialisation of the country through well-funded industrial parks.