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Exposing the ‘real truth’ behind petition to lower the age of consent below 16

Opinion & Analysis
Guest Column: Tendai Nyikavanhu I BELIEVE the petition by the Advocacy Core Team (ACT), seeking among other things to lower the legal age of consent to 12 years of age, is a smokescreen and a rather deceptive strategy which will destroy the lives and future of children under 18 years of age in Zimbabwe. The […]

Guest Column: Tendai Nyikavanhu I BELIEVE the petition by the Advocacy Core Team (ACT), seeking among other things to lower the legal age of consent to 12 years of age, is a smokescreen and a rather deceptive strategy which will destroy the lives and future of children under 18 years of age in Zimbabwe.

The people of Zimbabwe need to wake up and realise that the flow of money and donor funds to the youth, women’s movements and even to the Parliament of Zimbabwe is part of a broad political and social strategy to rupture the country’s moral fabric and social structure.

The Advocacy Core Team (ACT) and Compass Project represents a multi-sectoral coalition of 22 organisations working to promote abortion, sex work, and sexual rights (lesbian, gays, bi-sexual, transgender, queer, inter-sex / LGBTQI), and use health as an entry-point to drive this agenda among our adolescents and young people.

All the organisations — Right Here, Right Now Zimbabwe; PITCH; SAfAIDS, Sexual Reproductive Health Rights Africa Trust; Youth Advocates Zimbabwe (YAZ), and Zimbabwe Young Positives are a broad coalition of movements created by civil society organisations with donor funding as channels to advance the abortion agenda and sexual rights.

The coalition’s core philosophies are deeply antithetical to the public morality of Zimbabwe as a society. By supposedly pushing a “progressive agenda”, the coalition is exploiting health as the easiest entry-point to create a social crisis and chaos for the nation of Zimbabwe, and destroy its social fabric by removing good old cultural and Christian values from the public domain, and nurturing rebellion against social authority figures.

You may want to ask, who is really funding the agenda? What is their agenda? Unless you examine the petitioning movements (organisations), and who their “paymasters” and “handlers” are, you can easily treat the petition as a genuine concern for children and their health and social issues, and thus remain deceived.

The following civil society organisations — ROOTS Africa; Youth Engage; My Age; Galz (an association of gays and lesbians in Zimbabwe); Trans Smart Trust; Justice for Children; Chiedza Community Welfare Trust; Women Action Group (WAG); Adult Rape Clinic; Population Services Zimbabwe (PSZ, an affiliate of Marie Stopes International); Katswe Sistahood; Dot Youth; Paediatric Adolescents Treatment Africa (PATA); Youth Advisory Panel; Girl Child Empowerment Zimbabwe; She Decides Zimbabwe; students and Youth Working on Reproductive Health Action Team (SAYWHAT), and Trans and Intersex Zimbabwe — are pro-abortion and are funded largely by key foreign donors including SIDA, DFID and actively supported by development partners such as UN agencies. Vanoda kushura nyika, kutadzisa mvura kunaya pamusana pekutungamidza matakanyanya akadaro uyezve kuti vana vedu vakure semombe dzemashanga.

Please understand the abortion, sex work and LGBTQI ecosystem and industry for what it is. It is well-funded, and was created with a clear social, political and economic agenda. It uses it financial muscle to carve out space for programming and policy influence.

As Zimbabweans, why have we given UN agencies and donors the unfettered programming and policy space in health and social sectors, particularly pertaining to the lives of children, youth and women? How have civil society organisations occupied the place of parents and families, and achieved an upper hand in matters related to children and health policy and programming?

Why have we as Zimbabweans relinquished national sovereignty and allowed these institutions to dictate to the Parliament of Zimbabwe on programming issues related to our people through the Parliamentary Programme Co-ordination Unit (PCU)? Can we claim security of the nation when its Parliament shares authority with others (development partners, proxies of development partners etc)?

Is it not time that we rethink national security in our Parliament, and moderate the powers and influence of proxies of foreign agents and donors/development partners in health. Health is a national security issue!

The Vice-President and Health minister Constantino Chiwenga is right by asserting health as national security issue. If you understand biological warfare, use of health research as a “informational weapon” to engineer health and social interventions, and the export of blood samples of citizens of Zimbabwe as part of covert medical research and technologies, then you should be concerned with the drive to expose our children below the age of 16 years to health interventions such as contraceptives and “safe abortion” without parental/guardian consent.

Unless we resist the unfettered expansion of space to donors, civil society organisations and proxies interested mainly in disintegration of social order and structure, the future of our children, young people, and ultimately the destiny of our country is in jeopardy.

Why are we finding it hard as a nation to see the strategic importance of health and the youth as national security issues?

There is need to manage entry and players in the health and social sectors largely from a national security standpoint, and prevent deceitful strategies from disintegrating our social structure using health and youth issues as weapons. We can’t be naively complicit in the intentional process of disintegration.

The Constitution of Zimbabwe clearly articulates the right to healthcare services including reproductive health services to all, and enshrines children’s rights to education, health services, nutrition and shelter. In terms of section 81(1), every child, that is to say every boy and girl under the age of 18 years, has the right: (d) to family or parental care, to appropriate care, when removed from the family environment; (e) to be protected from economic and sexual exploitation, from child labour, and from maltreatment, neglect or any form of abuse; (f) to education, healthcare services, nutrition and shelter. Section 81(2) states that a child’s best interests are paramount in every matter concerning the child.

These constitutional provisions are clear, and, therefore, affirm that a child is child requiring family and parental care, and protection from all forms of abuse, neglect and exploitation while having access to education, healthcare services, nutrition and shelter.

In view of the above, why are civil society organisations and development partners pushing for “de-parenting” of children and treating parents/family as not suitable for exercising “protective duty” and duty to care for children? Are civil society organisations, movements and UN agencies fit to care for our children better than the family or parents?

Whose agenda are they driving? Who is financing them these matters, which may be opposite to public morality position in Zimbabwe? Is it why UNDP co-chairs the Parliamentary Programme Co-ordination Unit (PCU) in the Parliament of Zimbabwe? How have development partners and donors wielded and entrenched such influence over one of the arms of government of Zimbabwe?

Is this standard practice for foreign development partners, donors, and civil society organisations to actively co-ordinate programmes in European or American legislature? All these questions point to the need to question the independence of Parliament and possibilities of manipulation of various Parliamentary Portfolio Committees, primarily on HIV and Aids, and some Parliamentarians, to drive the agenda on lowering the age of consent to below 16 years.

Wake up Zimbabweans. The lowering of the age of consent to below 16 years in not about access to healthcare services; it is about destroying your greatest asset — children and young people.

It is all about stripping children of all their rights and protections, including the right to family and parental care. The children will be left without defence, and predators will have a feast on our children.

Ultimately, Zimbabwe will lose the “demographic dividend”, and inherit a long-term social crisis — children without family and parental care; young people detesting good moral and social values; diminished parental responsibility and disempowered parents/guardians; children with an “orphan spirit” and overwhelming sense of abandonment and rejection.

Do not be deceived, family/parents and faith leaders have critical roles to play in thriving communities, and ensuring that children have social support systems for healthy lives. That’s not to say all parents and families are nurturing. Parents may fail, and children make fail themselves or be failed by trusted authority figures.

However, as a nation, parents and families included, we should never fail in our “protective duty” or “duty to care” for our children. When our children fail or fall down, let us pick them up and responsibly empower them to pursue the life GOD predestined them.

Let us join hands with our First Lady, Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa in raising the moral standards of our children and inspiring them to look ahead in life as they overcome life challenges. Vana vedu vanokunda chete. Ngavasanyeperwe kuti vabereki havana basa muupenyu hwavo.

Some of our parliamentarians have been deceived and naïvely think that lowering the age of consent to below 16 years is good for our children. They have been sold a dummy and believed the lies couched in statistics and ”compelling” narratives, deceitfully crafted, to “empower” our politicians to think they are progressive. Foolishness is believing that moral relativism (chero zvipi zvipi zvinofamba) is good for our nation.

In his book, Studies in a Dying Colonialism, Frantz Fanon offers a clear warning to Africans, and cautions us not to blindly embrace foreign values uncritically.

When women, adolescents and youth are deceived to believe that the foreign agents/donors have their best interests at heart and wrench them free from their status, and win them over to foreign values, they are unknowingly being used as effective tool to destroy themselves and the Zimbabwean culture.

Some of the cultural values and good old values are good for our society. We raised our children as a community, and took responsibility for their welfare. We must remain resolute in raising our children, caring for and protecting them from destructive ideologies and a liberal agenda.

The old-age strategy is to destroy people’s originality and the core values that glue them together as a collective in order to bring about disintegration. It’s all about disintegrating the Zimbabwean family and community at whatever cost while focusing on age of consent and health issues as the problematic areas.

Issues of health and rights are emotive, and framing rights at the centre of the conversation around age of consent and access to healthcare services including reproductive health (read contraceptives, “safe abortion”, and adolescent pregnancies) ensures that Zimbabweans treat the issues as a simple and “pure”.

Foreign agents, development partners and civil society organisations have “won over the women and youth”, and they are guaranteed the rest will follow — disintegration of Zimbabwean family structure, sense of collectiveness, destruction of our originality as Zimbabweans known for protecting our children, women and preserving good old life-sustaining values.

Let’s cry out to our President, Health and Child Care minister, Primary and Secondary Education minister and the minister responsible for Social Welfare, and Her Excellency the First

Lady of the Republic of Zimbabwe to treat health and children/young people as national security issues, and use the various instruments of the State to defend our society while strengthening the nation’s capacity for resistance to socially destructive agendas.

In treating health and children/youth as national security issues, we have to see the strategic interest and importance of defending the related programming and policy space, and expose the machinations of abortionists, paedophiles, sexual predators, and foreign agents hiding themselves in Parliament, health and social sectors.

The above-mentioned civil society organisations, development partners and proxies claim to defend women, children and adolescents who are “unloved”, “uncared for”, “oppressed” and “violated”, and, therefore, needing them as defenders of children and women.

In addition, they advance the “possibilities” of women, children and youth by demonising our culture and love for our families and children. It is surprising that they claim to serve the “best interests” of children more than parents, our government and its institutions such that they have to dictate the terms and conditions of support.

Frantz Fanon reminds us again about organised lamentations and the shaming of Zimbabwean culture and practices by strategically reminding society that its members are barbaric, uncivilised, non-progressive, and have failed in their duty to care and protect children and the youth.

Hence, Zimbabwean parents and guardians are largely treated as “infantile” and incapable of exercising responsibility over health matters and rights of their children. The child, himself/herself, is deemed more capable than parents/guardians or our courts for that matter in making better decisions and choices on matters pertaining to health, life and welfare.

Really? How has this been achieved? By infiltrating the Health and Child Care ministry, Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on HIV and Aids, Parliamentary Programme Co-ordination Unit and strategically deceiving key policymakers, parliamentarians, and women and youth movements including relevant civil society organisations.

The mission is largely about destroying the social fabric of our society and community, and creating a lasting impression that without development partners, donors and proxies we cannot do much on our own.

Please, Zimbabweans, unite to defend your health sector and children from abortionists, paedophiles, sex predators and proxies working to destroy the structure of our society. Instead of allowing the lowering of age of consent to below 16, as a country we should actually be aligning all legislation and policies to the Constitution and ensure that all children under the age of 18 are protected and cared for as per the Constitution.

The deception/lies are:

 Reducing the age of consent to below 16 ensures protection of children from pregnancies, STIs, HIV and improve children’s health outcomes;

 Legalise abortion to curb unsafe abortions;

 Children are having sex anyway, and the age of consent should be lowered to below 16 to align with that reality. So as a society we should allow children under 18 years of age to use intoxicating drugs, engage in orgies, and sell sex because some children are doing it?

Should we legalise things that destroy lives of children because they are taking place in society? Shall we lower the age that one is legally allowed to purchase alcohol or tobacco cigars because some children under 18 are drinking alcohol and smoking clandestinely?

Shall we start selling recreational drugs in “child doses” at health facilities and school tuckshops to manage drug addictions or having them overdose?

 Pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, sexual abuse, and abortions can be avoided largely by lowering the age of consent below 16 and removing parental responsibility and duty on consent access to healthcare services (contraceptives, safe abortion etc). Despite existing mechanisms guaranteeing and access to services for children and young people, parental duty to care or “protective duty” should be diminished to achieve “positive” health outcomes for children. In addition, service providers should not have authority to responsibly exercise the duty to care for children.

In light of such deceptions/lies, we desperately want all Zimbabweans to know how and why the “petition movement” has deceived Zimbabwe on the issue of age of consent while claiming to act in the best interest of the child.

No best interest, period. They are applying a long-term strategy crafted a long time ago, and being financed to shift the social and moral landscape of Zimbabwe using health as an entry-point. Please close the breach on the walls of our nation. Our children, our health are national security and strategic issues.

Never allow foreign ideas and diabolical views that seek to promote raising Zimbabwean children without family and parental care and responsibility. Our arms/institutions of government — the Executive branch, Judiciary and Parliament — cannot afford to sleep on the wheel, and must join hands with families, communities, faith leaders, and concerned citizens to protect and defend our children in line with the Constitution. Zimbabwe should actually align all legal provision concerning children to the Constitutional definition of a child as any boy and girl below the age of 18 years.

Reject all parliamentarians and politicians pushing for the lowering of the age of consent below 16 years, promoting abortion, and supporting prostitution (sex work) among children. God desires us to be involved in the lives of our children, love and protect them, and model them to uphold morality and responsibility.

As parents and guardians, communities and the Government of Zimbabwe, we have a responsibility to inspire our children/youth to higher moral and social standards, and support them to walk confidently and with dignity as they overcome life challenges and pursue their dreams.

Resist the mocking of those interested in the disintegration of our society, and may we become the enemy of an evil, and free ourselves from the shackles of donor funds and programming earmarked intentionally for our destruction. We must remain resolute and tireless in protecting and caring for children and women in Zimbabwe.

Our resolution is to defend, protect and love our children as well as strengthen the health sector on our terms! We are a nation of courage defending strategic interests and assets, and advancing national security.