Focus on children as SADC PF Committee meets

Moses Magadza

The SADC PF Standing Committee on Human and Social Development and Special Programmes (HSDSP) is meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa, under the theme “Advancing the AU Agenda 2040 for Children: Strengthening Parliamentary Engagement for Child-Centred Legislation and Policies.”

The meeting is in preparation for the 55th Plenary Assembly Session of the SADC Parliamentary Forum, scheduled to take place from 1 to 7 July in Angola.

The Committee convenes when there is growing concern over child rights violations, poverty, and inequality, as well as a dearth of child-centred policies within the SADC region and beyond.

Munashe Tofa, a member of the Parliament of Zimbabwe, serves as secretary for the committee.

According to him, the theme is pivotal because it resonates with the overarching desire for an Africa fit for children, where every child has an equal opportunity to pursue and explore their talents.

“At its core, the theme acknowledges and recognises the remarkable strides made by Africa through the formulation of the AU Agenda 2040 for Children, anchored on ten key pillars. Beyond that, the Standing Committee and indeed the Forum recognise that Parliaments are the sine qua non for the efficacious implementation of this landmark document,” Tofa says.

Expectations are running high.

Ignatius Mabasa, an award-winning author and academic at the University of Zimbabwe, said society needs to take better care of children, and argued that members of parliament all over the world are uniquely positioned to create a world fit for children.

“Children thrive in a stable and loving family. Focusing on children without focusing on the family is a lost cause. There are so many issues that are attacking and affecting the family, resulting in estranged, confused, and vulnerable children,” he said.

Multiple award-winning Zimbabwean writer Memory Chirere, also challenged the SADC members of parliament meeting in Johannesburg to inspire decisive action.

“I think child poverty is critically rife in the SADC region. You find hordes of children fishing, hunting, and selling wares along highways when they should be in school. There is a need for legislation that cushions children against poverty,” Chirere contended.

Expectations are that through this meeting, parliamentarians, civil society organisations, and the wider public will build greater awareness of the contents of Agenda 2040 as an instrument for the protection and promotion of the rights of children in the SADC region.

It is hoped that through this capacity-building and sensitization endeavour spearheaded by the HSDSP Committee of the SADC PF, national parliaments and the wider stakeholder fraternity will be able to positively contribute towards the formulation of robust child-centred laws and policies to create a SADC and an Africa that is truly inclusive and supportive of its youngest citizens.

To facilitate in-depth deliberations, the Committee has engaged Sally Ncube from Equality Now and Honourable Anne Musiiwa from the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of Children (ACERWC), among other resource persons.

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