Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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Graca Machel tells Zim leaders to respect Constitution process

Graca Machel tells Zim leaders to respect Constitution process

By Tererai Karimakwenda
17 November, 2010

The globally respected wife of former South African President Nelson
Mandela, Graca Machel, arrived in Zimbabwe on Monday on a three-day mission
to assess how the coalition government and other institutions are dealing
with children’s rights.

Machel is known as a champion of women and children’s issues, and after
meeting children from different organizations on Tuesday, said the young
should not be the ones to pay the price for the country’s economic and
political decline.

She had listened to children talking about their personal lives in Zimbabwe
and described the experience as ‘emotional’ and said that the children had
spoken to her heart. Machel is quoted as saying: “This session was enough
and I don’t need any more to understand the situation on children in the

Machel belongs to a group called The Elders, respected global leaders who
were brought together by Nelson Mandela to use their influence to assist in
peace building efforts and promote human rights issues.

Our Harare correspondent Simon Muchemwa, who has followed Machel’s progress
in Zimbabwe, said the campaigner addressed journalists at the UNESCO
headquarters on Wednesday, and stressed the importance of respecting the
constitution in order to protect the rights of children and women.

Machel said she had met with civic society leaders, Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai, deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara and Vice President John
Nkomo separately. She also said that she had hoped to meet with Robert
Mugabe, but this was not possible due to Mugabe’s schedule.

Muchemwa said Machel explained that she had told the leaders she met to
allow COPAC to finalise the Constitution making process, because it was
fundamental to upholding the rule of law, regardless of whether elections
are held next year. She said some progress had been made in the places that
she visited, especially hospitals, but added that Zimbabwe still needed much
help in development.

Life for children in Zimbabwe has deteriorated greatly under the Mugabe
regime. A BBC documentary titled ‘Zimbabwe’s Forgotten Children’, shown
earlier this year, chronicled the lives of several poor children in the
urban and rural areas. After filming, producer Xoliswa Sithole wrote:
“Children are now not only living on the streets, they are giving birth on
the streets. A second generation of street children is growing up. The
system was supposed to take care of its people, but it has failed.”

It is not clear whether Machel’s trip to Zimbabwe was intended to raise
awareness only or whether she plans to raise funds for the charities that
she visited. But like other SADC leaders, Machel did not openly criticize
Mugabe or ZANU PF for any of the abuses that have been widely reported.
She only pointed to the constitution as the fundamental document that would
protect the vulnerable if the process is allowed to take its course.



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