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Children Demo: Tajamuka Hold Protest at UNICEF Offices

Radical pressure group Tajamuka yesterday staged a demonstration at Unicef’s offices in Harare protesting against the organisation’s recent...

Radical pressure group Tajamuka yesterday staged a demonstration at Unicef’s offices in Harare protesting against the organisation’s recent remarks over the involvement of children in protests.

This comes as Unicef — a humanitarian and developmental assistance provider to children — slammed Tajamuka, together with other protestors including Patson Dzamara, for involving children in a demonstration a fortnight ago.

“It is everybody’s duty to ensure that children are not used to advance a particular political cause. Children are not political and should be sheltered at all times from situations that expose them to the risk of harm or violence,” Unicef said.

But Tajamuka spokesperson, Promise Mkwananzi, saw nothing wrong in the children taking part in the demonstration — calling for the return of their missing father Itai Dzamara, Patson’s brother.
Police Attack Tajamuka Leader, Stan Zvorwadza

“Demonstrating @UNICEFZimbabwe against their claim that we’re abusing children #Tajamuka,” he tweeted yesterday.

In the protest, which led to Unicef’s child abuse concerns, Itai’s children took the frontline, confronted armed police and offered them flowers before calling on them to remove their riot gear and join the fight against government’s misrule.

The riot police quietly retreated to their trucks.

Apart from Unicef’s concerns, the children’s involvement also did not go down well with the Social Welfare ministry which felt the children were being exploited and used to “advance a particular political cause.”

Social Welfare minister Prisca Mupfumira was quoted as saying in the State media that “…the use of children in the protest violates Article 367 of United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), which provides for the protection of children from any form of exploitation, which includes being taken advantage of; in this case it is clear that the organisers of this protest took advantage of these children to get a sympathetic ear”.

She added: “the Zimbabwe Constitution provides that ‘every child has a right not to be compelled to take part in any political activity’. It is doubtful if these children on their own volition volunteered to be part and parcel of this protest”.

Mkwananzi has insisted that Itai’s children will continue to participate in all the processes involving the search for their father.

“…Unicef should hold that value uniformly and not in a timid and partisan manner that seems aimed at pacifying the sitting government at the expense of protecting the very children they claim to stand for,” he said.

Patson has also told the Daily News that Zanu PF used school children at their rallies, to the point of even closing schools, depriving them of education.

“I don’t see any novelty in the children taking part in any activity involving their father. We always see school children taking part in Zanu PF political activities, and they even go to the point of closing schools so that the kids can attend Zanu PF rallies,” he said.

“What is wrong with Itai’s children and relatives and friends commemorating their father or protesting to have him back? As Zimbabwe, we are cursed we don’t have leaders, instead of seeing that these children were robbed of their father and breadwinner, they try and find fault.”

“We always see vana (the likes of) Chatunga accompanying their father (President Robert Mugabe) at State functions as well as to Singapore,” Patson said.

Adding that, “instead of looking at how the children were suffering as a result of their father’s absence, the government was concerned about trying to find fault in the children commemorating their father”.

“In fact, as social welfare, they have never done anything to attend to us as a family or the kids,” he fumed.

“It’s ridiculous for them to try and look for demons under every green tree. These are Itai’s children and it’s not the first time they have been present during commemorations of their father,” Patson said.

“I am ready to face whatever they come up with,” he said. - Daily News

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