CHILDREN are the mainstay of any population group. Humans value their children so much and naturally do everything possible to protect them from both inclement elements and mean-spirited others. Children, naturally, benefit from non-negotiable parenting instincts that are traits of humans and other species.
Governments, throughout the world, work on the premise that the upkeep and upbringing of children is paramount; and they do so with religious zeal. In the case of Zimbabwe, the will to bring up children under conditions conducive to their developmental needs is there yet the means to do so are limited; thanks to the government’s lack of urgency where children are concerned.
Our government’s policies are known to be unsympathetic towards the people and even more uncaring to the vulnerable children. The playgrounds where Zimbabwean children spend most of their time are festering with the fiends that cause chicken pox, diarrhoea, measles, diphtheria, and other preventable afflictions. The government is unwilling to intervene by way of promoting children’s well-being.
The government has done absolutely nothing to promote an environment replete with basic requirements for children to thrive. The government has failed to take a leading role in the areas of children’s health, welfare, education, development, safety and security. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, most Zimbabwean children may be limited to aspiring to the lower end of the scale of self-actualisation due to the persistent struggles encountered by their compromised bodies in pursuit of survival.
The country cannot provide sufficient food for its children. Most families end up sacrificing their children because of the government’s failure to secure the stomach of the nation with enough food supplies. It does not matter that the country has experienced ravaging droughts or destructive floods, the children still have to be fed. The government is the institution that is supposed to assume both the maternal and paternal roles towards its people. Drought or no drought, the government has a responsibility to ensure that people in general and children in particular have enough to eat.
Food security is not the current government’s strength. Year in and year out, families take drastic measures to survive. Some of the measures border on the extreme such as sacrificing the children due to their inherent weakness and inability to either defend or fend for themselves. The government should be held responsible for the sad state of affairs on account of poor economic planning and mismanagement.
The government’s hands are dripping with the blood of innocent children having failed to ensure proper family planning measures in line with projected growth of the economy. The children will continue to wallow in poverty and hunger for as long as sound economic planning and robust family planning do not complement each other.
The children do not only face hunger with their innocent eyes but also have to endure deficiencies in availability of shelter. Shelter is of course the next important need after food and safety. The government has posted atrocious results in the sphere of shelter provision. Compelling evidence is literally roaming the streets of major towns. The streets are awash with children with no homes to go to, no parents to go to and no caring government to appeal to. This makes Zimbabwe drown in shame with the notoriety that the country’s beggar population far out strips the citizen-child beggar ratio of most Third World countries.
The nomadic children roaming the avenues and streets are referred to as street kids and the government is complicit in the use of the derisive term. What is a street kid? Can the government point out to a street that has either sired or given birth to a child? The government should be ashamed for the proliferation of homeless children. Government policies and strategies should be geared towards eliminating child destitution. Homelessness for children should be breaking news from another planet. Our children should be smothered in everlasting love within homely environments.
Other systemic failures that afflict our children also include poor health outcomes coupled with poor educational performance. Hospitals are breeding grounds of infectious diseases instead of being a place of healing for the children. The government has failed to provide health for all. This failure to provide adequate health facilities translates to ruin for the susceptible and fragile bodies of the children. High child morbidity is an indictment of the government’s dereliction of its statutory responsibilities towards children.
Starving homeless children, who are treated in ill-equipped hospitals, can hardly pay attention to the learning process. Zimbabwean children attend lessons in derelict schools that can collapse on them at any time. The quality of education is further compromised by demoralised teachers. As if that was not enough, the syllabus is laden with political rhetoric more than educational material. The government is happy to produce learners that can recite the Satanic Verses without due regard to the implications.
By failing our children from birth to adulthood, the government has socially engineered a new breed of citizens. The mutants know no love, know no table manners, know no social ethics and know nothing about citizen’s basic rights. The government has created a generation of neuters that is politically subservient to bad governance.
Children deserve better; all of them.
lMasola waDabudabu writes in his personal capacity