By Paidamoyo Chipunza
First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa yesterday launched the National Action Plan (NAP) and Communication Strategy Against Child Marriages. The strategy seeks to accelerate efforts towards ending child marriages in the country. Officially launching the policy document in Harare, the First Lady said it would see the formation of structures that will effectively coordinate, monitor and evaluate all initiatives against child marriages.
She said the programme would provide for enhanced advocacy for child-led initiatives and alignment of legislation to the Constitution.
The First Lady said NAP was also expected to facilitate registration of births and marriages in Zimbabwe.
NAP also seeks to build partnerships with traditional community-based organisations, religious groups and strengthen community-based child protection mechanisms.
It will ensure provision of a second chance for girls willing to go back to school.
“Girls are at the core of social economic development of our country and therefore as a nation we must jealously guard their future,” she said.
She said Zimbabwe was a signatory to regional and international instruments against child marriages.
“Regardless of all these concerted efforts, the goal of ending child marriages has until now remained elusive,” she said.
Ministers who attended the event pledged to end child marriages.
They included Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo, Primary and Secondary Education Minister Professor Larry Mavima, Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi and Women’s Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Minister Sithembiso Nyoni.
Minister Ziyambi said the proposed Marriages Bill sought to protect girls against abuse.
United Nations Representative Mr Bishow Parajuli, African Union Goodwill Ambassador for the Campaign to End Child Marriages Ms Nyaradzai Gumbonzvanda and president of the Chiefs Council Chief Fortune Charumbira commended Zimbabwe for accelerating efforts against child marriages.