Six junior councillors ‘elope’ with panners

Michael Magoronga, Midlands Correspondent
SIX female juveniles – three below the age of 15 – who were part of the Kwekwe Junior Council were reportedly impregnated or eloped with gold panners during the Covid-19 induced lockdown, Chronicle can reveal.

The shocking stats were revealed during a Zimbabwe National Council for Welfare of Children (ZNCWC) annual convention recently.

Kwekwe District has a total of 56 junior councillors from Kwekwe City, Zibagwe Rural District Council and Redcliff Municipality. Zibagwe RDC, which caters for the rural part was the worst affected.

Zibagwe RDC chief executive officer, Mr Farayi Machaya, said concerted effort was needed in addressing abuse of underage girls.

“We are in the process of replacing the councillors and our officials are taking necessary steps to ensure that they are replaced. It is worrying that they are supposed to be role models themselves but the worst then happens to them,” he said.

“It is a touching development that everyone should work in trying to address.”

Ward 13 junior councillor Precious Hove said it was worrying that early marriages were not sparing anyone including her colleagues.

She said relevant authorities including officials from council, victim friendly unit, district development coordinator’s office and Childline among others, made follow ups on the six junior councillors and ascertained the sad development.

Clr Hove said most of her juvenile colleagues fell victim to gold panners who lured them with money.

“We have a huge challenge here in the district due to illegal gold panners who lure young girls with money and they end up falling pregnant or even eloping with the men as they think they might earn a living with them,” she said.

ZNCWC board chair, Dr Lamiel Phiri said the development was worrying, adding that gold panners should be educated.

“Can you imagine losing six junior councillors, this is very bad. This goes on to show how early marriages have wreaked havoc in the country. We hear stories of gold panners ‘swiping’ young girls for a certain fee, I never thought it was serious. I suggest that relevant authorities engage these gold panners and educate them against swiping young girls,” said Dr Phiri.

ZNCWC director, Dr Taylor Nyanhete, said parents should play a leading role in educating their own children on sexual reproductive issues.

“Let us engage our children as a society and not wait for teachers to do that. Let us take responsibility for sexual reproductive education for our children as parents. The home environment is always the best for such education. It takes the whole society to raise a child,” said Dr Nyanhete.

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