By Tatenda Chambwe

Weird things always happen in our society. Recently the story of nude witches who emerged in the Budiriro suburb of Harare in Zimbabwe seized people with profound fear, and now there is the mind boggling issue of a local non-governmental organization which wanted to push for the introduction of contraceptives to school girls as young as ten years old.

This story ignited countrywide condemnation from many quarters including parents, government as well as the human rights activists. The debate around it is still raging and it has become a very topical issue of national interest.

“As government we are not going to sit back and watch reckless non-governmental organizations with destructive agendas importing such culturally negative foreign malpractices into our country. We are currently investigating this issue and crush such programmes as our children will be destroyed morally by such decadent ideas”, fumed the Health Minister Dr. David Parirenyatwa.

He went on to say that Zimbabwe would never support such programmes as the country highly respects and protects its national and cultural values.

The rationale behind this NGO’s programme is that nowadays children are exposed a lot to various media like TV which show sexual content. As a result many children end up at risk of experimenting with very early sexuality. Not all parents spend much time with their children as they will be at work or other various economic activities.

ParadokaZuva has just completed its survey of a hundred grade seven girls at schools in Harare, to find out what the girls know about sexuality. The results are quite disturbing, as more than 50 percent of them said that they fully know about sexual issues whilst thirty percent have actually been engaged in sex already. So what’s the way forward for Zimbabwe?

“Parents should spend more time with their children to ensure they are in control of what their children watch or are exposed to. They should always instill our cultural values in their minds from early ages right up to the time they go to universities. In fact even when someone has reached the age of going to work, in our African culture, he or she still remains a child to be guided”, said Trust Midzi, a father of three in Highfield. Anna Bushu of Kuwadzana, a single mother of two had this to say, “Yes, I agree that our children are more sophisticated than those of our generation because of technological advances and so on. But to think of giving my ten year old girl some contraceptives is really an abomination. This NGO must not be allowed to continue operating in our country right away”.

Sekuru Fungai Badza, a traditional healer in Mbare had no kind words, “I am happy our government has come out open attacking this monster. I would want to see everyone in that NGO arrested and put behind bars. This is taboo in our culture you know. Since when have ten year olds started being mothers? Something is very wrong with minds of whoever wanted to introduce such a bizarre practice”.

Paradoka also spoke to Angela Tongoona, a human rights activist whose special focus is on children’s rights. “Our special interest is on the protection of children and their rights. But to say, children should have rights to use contraceptives is really far-fetched and irresponsible because in the same vein that will cause serious increase in immoral behavior amongst our children. That will result in total destruction of our children’s future and we cannot tolerate that at all. Right now we are lobbying parliament not to support such kind of legislation should it be brought there for debate”, said Angela.
Scores of parents, who Paradoka interviewed in the city during a vox pop it conducted, all lambasted the idea with a lot of contempt. Some think that these are agendas of imperialists who want to reverse gains Zimbabwe has so far registered.

“The West must be behind all this and their agenda must be to destroy our children as they know that our country’s future depends on them,” pointed out one middle aged woman. “Moral education is a better route,” she concluded. It now remains to be seen whether or not this NGO will attempt to continue pushing for this program against the will of Zimbabweans.

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