Robin Muchetu, Senior Reporter
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa has called on parents and guardians to seriously reprimand children and youths at home as a means to curb the spread of bullying and drug abuse in communities.
The President was speaking at the official opening of the National Chiefs Conference in Bulawayo on Wednesday.
This comes following incidents of bullying and school turf wars that left a learner at Founders High School in Bulawayo dead after he was stabbed in the neck by another learner.
“We are here today, we owe it to our forefathers who preserved our culture, our way of life that has allowed us to survive today so it is critically important for us, the current leaders to carry this philosophy and respect traditional knowledge, wisdom, and culture to preserve our identity.
“We are fighting drug abuse because drug abuse by our young generation will destroy our culture and our identity. Foreign countries will take advantage of us because we will have destroyed our identity. This philosophy that children are not reprimanded in the home or counseled in the home does not work for us. Look at America if a child is beaten they go and report, rovai mpama vati tasa! (reprimand them until they become well-mannered). We don’t mind what those countries that feel offended by our practices say. They must stay in their lane and we stay in ours,” said President Mnangagwa.
The President further lamented the spate of child marriages that have been reported in the country.
“Chiefs and Headmen here present have the responsibility in your areas to allow children to grow, girls and boys must marry when they are old enough. I have heard of cases of a girl of nine, and a girl of eight getting pregnant.
“That is not allowed, this is because our traditions in the community are not being followed. You, parents, are not teaching children about them. Growing up we had our own time as young men where we gathered and were counseled and educated about life and culture, the girls also had their time. The lessons of encouraging children to self-preserve are upon you parents,” he said.
President Mnangagwa said under the Second Republic they recognise that the traditional leader’s institution remains the hallmark and guarantor of people’s culture against contamination by disruptive practices advanced by foreign nationals in Zimbabwe.
He said the conference is the first to have chiefs and headmen together after a two-year hiatus following the Covid-19 pandemic.
The President further revealed that moving forward the chief’s conference will also be attended by all government Ministers as some of the issues and challenges raised touch all government Ministries that needed the responsible ministers to respond accordingly.
Speaking at the same function, Bulawayo Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and devolution, Cde Judith Ncube said the province was honored to have welcomed chiefs and their headmen into Bulawayo.
“This meeting gives us a lot of education and lessons that you meet to discuss issues of building the country. As we are headed for elections, we are willing to get lessons from you on having peaceful elections that are following,” she said.
President of the National Council of Chiefs Chief Charumbira said the conference brought together all chiefs and headmen to give each other updates on work that is going on in the provinces.
“We are the custodians of the people meaning to say our culture and traditions are working well. We see if people have food and land and or not, we make efforts to avail these and we ask the President to supply if need be.
We also review if there is development in the provinces and where we need to make amends and also review our work as chiefs and see that our challenges are addressed. We are simply reporting back what we got from the provinces,” he added.