HARARE – Junior parliamentarians held their parliamentary debate and cabinet meeting this week, highlighting a myriad of challenges facing youths.
Ntandoyekhosi Moyo, the Child President, chaired the parliamentary debate and the cabinet meeting.
On Wednesday his cabinet ministers held discussions with their senior cabinet counterparts.
They presented their recommendations to Francis Nhema, minister of Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment.
The senior parliamentarians sat on Tuesday in the National Assembly. There was no debate in the Senate.
The junior parliamentarians proposed that they wanted a tobacco and alcohol levy to be introduced in the national budget. Proceeds from the levy, the child parliamentarians said, should be used to promote and administer the junior parliamentarians’ work, which is currently without a budget.
“Enough resources must be channelled towards the well-being and development of this constituency of children and young people,” Moyo said. “Volumes and large quantities of alcohol and tobacco are consumed every day. A lot of income is released from these products which are consumed mostly by young people.
“It is high time that the lives of young people that are being destroyed by these products are compensated. Let’s resolve that the government implements an alcohol and tobacco levy. A lot of projects and programmes can be funded through this levy to the empowerment of children and young people.”
In their debate, various junior MPs raised a host of issues including the state of our educational system, provision of electricity in rural schools, the expansion of state assistance with school fees and accessory school needs, provision of adequate recreational facilities and revitalisation of dilapidated existing services for children with disabilities.
The junior legislators debated the need to decentralise birth registration and identity document centres to district ward level for easy access to all children.
They also noted the need to improve the health care provision with bias towards a child-friendly care system.
“These are important issues that the children have raised which really need the attention of the government through allocations in the national budget,” Moyo said.
The Child President said the junior MPs had workshops with junior councillors, soldiers and police officers who held also expressed the same concerns.
Moyo and his team of child legislators will hold office for one year until August 2014.
President Robert Mugabe launched the 21st Junior Parliamentary session in July this year.
In the National Assembly, legislators debated a motion that was introduced by MDC legislator James Maridadi calling for an inquiry by the committee on Mines and Energy into the power sector.
Maridadi lamented intermittent power cuts to both domestic and commercial consumers as a result of loadshedding.
Contributing to the motion, Zanu PF MP Dexter Nunda said power shortages were being worsened by sanctions as big corporates did not want to invest in the power sector.
MDC legislator Eddie Cross disputed the remarks saying it was the policy of Zanu PF not to prioritise the energy sector.
“I participated in the construction of Kariba Dam as at the time it was the largest infrastructure development in the world, financed by the World Bank and Hwange Power Thermal.
It was financed by the Rhodesia government and the equipment was imported to Rhodesia under United Nations sanctions,” Cross said.
“I cannot simply understand why my associates on the other side of the house should claim today that sanctions are causing in any way, the kind of crisis we are experiencing today.
“It is not true, there are absolutely no restrictions whatsoever on the importation of spares of any kind to deal with any form of electricity generation infrastructure in Zimbabwe today.”
Meanwhile, parliamentary committee meetings have been suspended for this week as portfolio and thematic committees did not meet. Meetings will resume on Monday December 2 while parliamentary debates in both houses will commence on Tuesday December 3.