Monica Mutsvangwa’s Full Speech As Son Rots In Prison
15 May 2024
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15 MAY 2024

• The Directors of Ceremonies,
• Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution Mashonaland Central Province, Hon. Christopher Magomo
• Honourable Ministers here present;
• Senators;
• Members of Parliament;
• Traditional Leaders;
• The UN Resident Coordinator;
• The Permanent Secretary of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development, Dr. Mavis Sibanda and other Permanent Secretaries here present;
• Government officials;
• War Veterans, Collaborators and War Detainees;
• Representatives of United Nations (UN) Agencies;
• Representatives of Non-Governmental Organizations;
• Members of the Diplomatic Corps;
• Representatives of Community Based Organizations;
• Representatives of Church Organizations;
• Ladies and Gentlemen, Comrades and friends

It is my singular honour and privilege to preside over the 2024 National Commemoration of the International Day of Families here in the scenic and economically diverse Province of Mashonaland Central. The family unit is the key building block of communities, societies and nations at large, hence the need to direct attention towards the socio-economic issues that impact the development of the family unit and to come up with relevant solutions and interventions that protect and promote the integrity, status and empowerment of the family unit.

The International Day of Families came into being by means of the United Nations Resolution 47/237 of 20 September 1993, and has been celebrated every year since 1994. According to this Resolution, the family unit is affirmed to be the natural and fundamental entity in society as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

The Government of Zimbabwe places paramount importance on families and has developed supportive legislation meant to protect and promote the development of the family unit. Chapter 2, Section 25 of the National Constitution directs that “the State and all institutions and agencies of Government at every level must endeavour within the limits of the resources available to them adopt measures for the provision of care and assistance to mothers, fathers and other family members who have charge of children and the prevention of domestic violence”. This in itself gives weight to the reality that for societal and national development and cohesion to be realized, there is need to adopt family centered development initiatives that equitably meet the needs of all family members. Our various cultures across Zimbabwe have for time immemorial prioritized the development of the family unit and the strengthening of familial bonds within both nuclear and extended families. This therefore obligates all citizens in Zimbabwe to play their part in their various capacities in protecting and empowering the family unit.
Today on the 15th of May 2024, Zimbabwe joins the rest of the world and the United Nations Family in commemorating the International Day of Families. The 2024 celebration marks the 30th anniversary of the Year of the Family, as the first commemoration was held in 1994. This year’s commemoration is running under the theme “Families and Climate Change” International year of the family + 30”,. As families are the fundamental basis of communities, societies and nations, they are not spared the adverse impacts of climate change. To this end, the United Nations has directed focus of the 2024 International Day of Families commemorations on 2 important family focused climate issues which are the impact of climate change on families and the role of families in climate action.

Climate Change is a major threat globally that is affecting the socio-economic development of nations and various natural environments. The increase in extreme weather events such as droughts, floods, cyclones, heat waves and hurricanes over the years has resulted in unforeseen losses in terms of human life, infrastructure, livelihoods and natural environment space. Such conditions have had adverse impacts on food production, agricultural production and the availability of and access to water and energy. The effects of extreme weather events have also impacted industries and value chains in sectors hard hit by climate shocks such as the agricultural sector. Economic growth and development are therefore severely curtailed by the extreme impacts of climate change. Consequently, the 2024 commemoration of the International Day of Families is everyone’s concern and the take-aways from the day should influence all of the nation’s citizenry to mainstream family issues in climate change interventions.
The Ministry has a mandate to economically empower women, mainstream gender, develop communities and promote MSMEs and Cooperative Development in key economic sectors which include agriculture, mining, tourism, manufacturing and trade. To support this mandate, the Ministry administers four empowerment funds namely the Women Development Fund, Zimbabwe Community Development Fund, SMEDCO and the ZWMFB. Several programmes and projects are being implemented by the Ministry and this has led to an increase in incomes at the family level, leading to more stable families.
It is sad to note that, Gender Based Violence (GBV); particularly rape of women and children is also a major challenge in our families and communities. The Zimbabwe Demographic Health Survey showed that the prevalence of gender-based violence stood at 47% among women. Studies have also observed that only 13% of women who suffer violence seek help from the police and only a combined 5% of those sought help from a doctor/medical institution, social services or a lawyer.
To address these social ills and maintain family integrity, the Ministry is implementing various programmes in schools, tertiary Institutions and churches to address GBV and incidences of rape. Such programmes include community-based awareness campaigns that are being held at provincial, district and ward levels in line with the National Action Plan on Rape and Gender-Based Violence. The Ministry also works with traditional leaders in the fight against GBV and the promotion of family unity.
Zimbabwe is currently in the scourge of a debilitating drug and substance abuse crisis that is affecting the well-being of families and communities. The current generation of youth is hardest hit by this scourge and this is posing a grave danger to the future of our nation as the current generation will be hamstrung by drug abuse and fail to be effective custodians of the future. The Government of Zimbabwe has identified drug and substance abuse as a major danger to the development of families, communities and the nation at large and resultantly, a whole Government approach and a multi-stakeholder initiative have been adopted where each participating entity is mainstreaming strategic responses to the drug abuse problem in their key programming areas. Families and community members should cooperate with law enforcement agencies and health service providers in the execution of their anti-drug and substance abuse duties, to safeguard the future of our nation.

Climate change has heavily impacted the work of male and female farmers in the developing world where women are heavily involved in food production and farming activities. Men have their own fair share of challenges that they face due to climate change and natural disasters that cannot be under-estimated or ignored. From time immemorial, men have been tasked with the role of family protectors and providers. These functions however have been greatly challenged in recent years due to the intensification of climate change and extreme weather events. Climate affected sectors end up being forced to scale down operations, thereby resulting in the loss of jobs and sector specific business opportunities. A number of men end up being affected and their ability to support their families is curtailed. Resultantly, the social and economic fallouts end up affecting the family and contributing to GBV, drug abuse, reduced standards of living and eventual family breakdown.

Women and girls also face their own unique challenges from climate change that affect their daily living and family roles. The main challenges that they face from climate change as a result of their gender include an increase in female workload due to water scarcity is experienced. UNICEF estimated that women and girls are responsible for water collection in 80% of households in need. This means that in times of climate induced water scarcity, women and girls are forced to travel longer distances to find water. This invariably increases their workload and cuts down in the potential time that they can commit to educational and economic pursuits. Additionally, the hygiene and sanitation of women and girls is severely affected by the lack of access to clean water, thereby making them more vulnerable to communicable and water-borne diseases such as cholera, typhoid fever and hepatitis. Furthermore, the ability of women and girls to effectively manage their menstrual hygiene matters is further impaired in the absence of reliable, clean and safe water.

As a nation, Zimbabwe has not been immune to the reality and effects of climate change. In relation to climate change, Zimbabwe is being affected in that Climate change is causing average temperatures to rise and annual rainfall decline especially in the southern parts of the country. This is making rainfall patterns more variable with an increase in droughts, floods and storms being experienced, thereby affecting Zimbabwe’s food security, health, energy supply and the economy.

Climate change among other factors have contributed to the deterioration of water quality and quantity for both urban and rural communities, thereby leading to an increase in health hazards such as diarrheal diseases and a cholera outbreaks. Climate change is exacerbating poverty levels, especially in rural areas which practice agriculture as its main livelihood as adverse climate and environmental conditions disrupt agriculture. Women, children, the elderly and the disabled in affected areas have been identified as being the most vulnerable to shocks. Climate change has severely affected Zimbabwe’s energy production and distribution capabilities in recent years. Fluctuating rainfall is causing reduced water volumes needed for hydro-electric power generation by key power generation facilities such as Kariba Hydro-Electric Power Station, thereby restricting the generation of hydroelectricity on which industry depends. The reality of climate change in Zimbabwe has seen families being affected socially and economically in a number of ways. Livelihoods, food security, employment opportunities and educational advancement prospects for men, women and children have been hard hit due to climate change. Extreme weather incidences such as Cyclone Idai in Manicaland and the current El Nino induced drought the country is currently facing have exposed families across the country to multiple vulnerabilities.

The Government of Zimbabwe has placed importance on Climate Change and it created a Ministry responsible for spearheading and taking the lead in Climate change adaptation and mitigation. The Government under the able leadership of His Excellency the President Dr E. D. Mnangagwa initiated the Presidential input scheme which is assisting small scale as well as communal farmers with farming inputs. The Pfumvudza conversation agricultural practice is a measure to adapt to the effects of Climate change. The Presidential borehole drilling scheme is ensuring that each village has a borehole as a way to curb climate change effects.
The 2024 theme of International Families Day seeks to direct focus on the role that families can play in climate action and capacitate them with the knowledge and resources necessary to combat climate change. Families need to be incorporated in the broader climate change response framework and deliver as change agents. With this in mind, it is therefore imperative for all stakeholders in the national climate change response framework to work together and mainstream family focused solutions and interventions that speak to the needs of men, women and children in families. The capacitation of existing community governance structures is essential to enabling them to disseminate information on climate change, disaster risk management and environmental protection and create tailor made community response systems to help families and communities respond to climate change challenges. The provision of reliable energy for families need to be prioritised so as to reduce the rates of deforestation and bio-mass loss that will reduce the amount of productive land that families and communities can use to develop sustainable agriculture and land based livelihoods. This will aid in increasing the economic resilience of families and reduce the likelihood of negative incidences such as GBV, child marriages and drug abuse occurring.

Furthermore, families need to be capacitated with the knowledge to develop and sustain a circular economy within their households and communities. The adoption of a circular economy will help families change and adapt their consumption patterns and utilise concepts of material re-use and recycling which are essential in protecting the environment.

The long-term projected impacts of climate change on Zimbabwe present an urgent call to action that needs to be heeded by all key stakeholders from Government, the development community and the business sector. Climate change is more than just an academic and scientific issue and there is currently a greater need to factor in the human cost of climate change and develop family focused climate interventions in wider development practice.

Allow me to conclude my speech by thanking everyone for attending this event. I would also like to pay tribute to the work that line Ministries and stakeholders present here are doing in the various communities across the country in the areas of climate change response, environmental protection and disaster risk management. My call to you is to strengthen your focus on developing the capacity of families to effectively respond to the negative impacts of climate change. As climate change is affecting everyone regardless of their status, it will be important to leave no family behind in climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts. The reality of Vision 2030 can be realised when developmental efforts by all stakeholders have a family lens that will strengthen communities and the nation at large.

On this note, I therefore declare the International Day of Families for 2024 officially launched.