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FACT FINDING MISSION ON GIRLS SITUATION AT CHINGWIZI TRANSIT CAMP

On Friday the 2nd of August 2014 the TaLI team led by the Director Nyaradzo Mashayamombe travelled to Chingwizi Holding Camp in response to the Progressive Teachers Union Zimbabwe which claimed that there were over 100 girls between the ages 10 and 12 are pregnant at the chingwizi holding camp. Thus we went to verify the authenticity of the report and study the situation on the ground in relation to the conditions in which the girls and all residents lived in. Findings are as outlined:

 

The situation at the Chungwizi holding camp is very bad.

When we were approaching the camp there we police man with helmets and dogs at the first boom gate to the camp. They neither talked to us nor blocked us from getting into the camp.  - When we got into the camp the place was so quiet, there were no people loitering outside the tents as one would expect to see people roaming around under normal circumstances. There were no children playing outside the tents even if it was during the weekend. The situation was just tense as we hardly spent 10 minutes at the camp. There was no one to talk to so we drove to the Mlali transit school(the nearest school) where we hoped we could find out about the PTUZ report allegations. 

 

At this school, we held informal interviews with a couple of people. The situation was tense as a result of conflict that had erupted between the residence and the Police where it was reported that Police vehicles had been burnt down as the police was alleged to have tried to force move people without compensation, to their newly allocated land. The residence did not want to move because they demanded compensation first from the government.  We could neither interview the girls or anyone in this particular camp.

 

Mlali Transit School

The response we got was a clear indication that they had recited answers to the questions.  The few teachers we spoke to had been told what to say by authorities which was contrary to what we could see.  They said that the claims by PTUZ are just speculations and they are not sure where the statistics in the report are coming from.  They told us that there had not been any recorded drop-outs of children from School.  However one of the secondary school teachers was diplomatic as to tell us that they were not in a position to respond since all the information we needed was to be found at the district office. Thus he advised us to go to the office as he said he was sure we would get all the information there.  This was a clear indication that there were issues but they could not tell us.

 

Interview with Girls from Mlali Transit School

The form one students we talked said that there were many children were not coming to school since they have completed their midyear exams. She mentioned that some children had already stopped coming to school even before their examinations.  She highlighted the fact that there is high moral decadence of children resulting in many children being chased away from school. Girls are calling out of school boyfriends engaging in inter-generational relationships. General behavior of the children with the interference of parents who do not want their children disciplined by the school authorities, had forced expulsion many school children both in Primary and Secondary School.

 

Interview with boys at Mlali and staying in the camp

They mentioned that girls are getting married at tender ages though he had no specific numbers.  There were others who had dropped out of school and rumors had it that they were pregnant. He however did not have specific statistics but that he knew a number of girls who were in this position.  One of the boys was in a relationship with a form 1 girl and he said ' if a girl is in a relationship with a school boy its different with when she is in a relationship with an out of school boy who in some cases will be a drunkard and will not be at the same level of negotiating with the girl'. He was referring to the vulnerabilities that girls face in inter-generational relationships. The children alluded negative impact of lack of after school activities contributing to children ending up in mischief.  One boy mentioned that during the time they were in their original homes, the issue of house hold chores would keep everyone occupied at their own house compared to non-activity in the camp.  Reports were that parents had complained to the police on some of the children’s behavior especially when they were trying to intervene on girls’ relationships with older men.

 

Interviewing one of the boys about the life at the Transit Camp,  he had this to say;

“Children are disturbed academically, we have lost a year already and am not confident that i can sit for my O level exam next year. I am deciding to repeat form three so that i can cover up the lost period and sit for his exams when he will be ready”

 

Children are not at all happy about the way they are living at the camp. Parents are failing to control their children and this is because people are just crowded at the camp. He said “I am also scared because there are shabeens(house beer places) at the camp and due to lack of things to do my father spends some time at these places and there are sex workers in these places. My fear is my father might end up contracting ‘‘the disease’’ and passe it on to my mother and we will end up being orphans”

 

His main wish was that if they can move as soon as possible as when they were brought to the camp they thought the they would stay for only 2 months but it’s almost a year since they were at the holding camp. The boy mentioned that waiting for the money is doing more harm than good to the people in general and children in particular..

 

Other Notes

There is serious need to protect human rights at the camp. The conflict between the government and the residence of Chingwizi camp require urgent attention. While it is a great idea for the government to move people from the camp to the resettlement areas, the government must provide the finances that the residence are demanding for the relocation. There are vulnerabilities for the girls and women if the government forces people to move without money. Issues of food for survival, materials for building, sanitary wear for girls and women, general socio economic factors like prevention and management of HIV vulnerabilities for women are key. Issues of shelter are also key. TaLI urges the government of Zimbabwe to provide funding for the residence to move, as well as respect basic human rights in the process such as dignity of people.

OUR STRENGHT IN PARTNERSHIPS

TaLI recognises the impact it brings when organisations work in strategic partnerships with relevant key stakeholders. As a Girl Child Rights organisation, Tag a Life International Trust(TaLI) is mothered by the Ministry of women Affairs, Gender and Community Development. Throughout our work, we have partnered with this ministry as we defend the rights of girls and create the opportunities for her development.

 

The organisation has received immense support from the Head Office of the Ministry right to the Midlands Office. As we work in both the Schools and Communities, TaLI has utilised the structures of the Ministry of Women Affairs in the

Community where it has worked with Community Peer Educators which were drawn from the Ministry’s Ward and District Structures. Working in Shurugwi and now entering Zvishavane, TaLI has obtained the requied necessary papers owing to the deeper relationships with the Ministry. The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education in the Midlands Province had been nothing but supportive as well when we worked in Shurugwi District. We hope to continue enjoying the relationships so that we manage to provide the required programmes to protect the girls and all children at large. In the Schools TaLI has been engaging teachers and students at schools, to train them on issues of girls rights and protection, so that they

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