ZAMBIA Civic Education Association executive director Judith Mulenga says publicising videos of children singing praises of presidential candidates is pure exploitation the young ones.
Mulenga says contrary to some Patriotic Front self-styled think tanks who claim the children’s right to be heard, the act constitutes manipulation and abuse of their rights.
“At the pain of sounding didactic, the cited provisions obligate the government in imperative terms to (article 12) provide the child the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child,” she said. “…(article 13) provides the child the right to freedom of expression which includes freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of the child’s choice; (article 14) the government to respect the child’s rights to freedom of thought, conscience and religion and (article 15) the rights of the child to freedom of association and to freedom of peaceful assembly.”
Mulenga argued that those children were not consulted but simply pushed into singing those campaign songs.
“These are the same freedoms that are guaranteed to all of us human beings, but the difference with the children is that children’s agency evolves with age and maturity therefore for someone to claim that the child was exercising her civil rights and freedoms, agency has to be proved. For example, did the child compose and sing the song on her own? Who took the video?” Mulenga asked. “Who uploaded the video? If not the child, then the child was exploited by the adults who participated in these machinations.”
She said exploiting children to appeal to voters’ emotions was an evil act.
Mulenga said it had been done several times before but it had not worked.
“We want to remind all cadres and politicians that children’s rights are interdependent, interrelated and indivisible. The children’s rights cannot be cherry picked,” said Mulenga. “It is incredulous that a government that has continuously failed the girl child in Zambia as empirically established by the African Child Policy Forum’s 2020 Girl-Friendliness Index with Zambia scoring very low being placed among the less girl friendly countries in Africa. From the findings of the Index the Zambian girl has been failed by the PF government in reducing hunger with malnutrition high among 31 per cent of under five girls stunted.
Additionally, one in every four girls aged 12 to 24 months not having received basic vaccinations. Public social protection expenditure at a miserly 0.7 per cent of the domestic gross product, the lowest in Africa and low birth registration.”