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Child Marriages, A Headache For Mutsvangwa Community

By Manicaland Correspondent

FROM Machonjwe we now arrive at Kopa (Dzingire) business centre in Chimanimani East, here we witness the rehabilitation of the Kopa-Jopa Highway,  which has sad memories of Tropical Cyclone Idai where three rivers; Nyahode, Rusitu and Chipite meet.

During the cyclone, water from the three rivers completely swept a police post, some religious buildings and a whole compound which housed Agricultural extension officers.

To this day, the people who were swept away have not been officially recovered and are believed to be part of some bodies which were seen downstream in Mozambique.

Mutsvangwa communal lands under Chief Ndima is said to be heavily affected by early child marriages due to various affecting reasons which include lack of financial support for business initiatives and tuition for school going kids.

As if Cyclone Idai was not enough in ravaging the area and livelihood, Covid-19 came which saw the closure of schools early march as a measure to stop the spread or corona virus.

To that effect, Regional Psycho-social Support Initiative (REPSSI) is spearheading building of community resilience.

The community is admitting that amongst the villagers themselves, they understand the need for shunning child abuse, gender based violence and early child marriages.

Erina Gomori reveals that gender based violence has significantly dropped since REPSSI started training them on resilience.

Another participant who attended the program, Peter Magezi admits that physical abuse has dropped but there was need to look into cases of emotional abuse which mostly affect women and school going children.

The school head of Mutsvangwa Secondary School, Ndamuka Mugano Mlambo indicated that five girls at the school got married during the Covid 19 lockdown.

Chimanimani Rural, Ward 23 Councillor Joel Dhumakwezi

According to the villagers, men who work in the Diaspora affectionately known as “Majoni joni” and those from neighbouring Mozambique are the chief culprits of child marriages as well as abuse due to intoxication.

“As villagers, we sometimes identify the culprits who usually cross the border riding on motorcycles but we fail to intercept them because most of them are violent” said Irene Makocha.

“In any case the matter is reported to the police, these men from Mozambique gang up and attack us, since it is just a stone throw away from here to the neighbouring country” Makocha added.

Councillor Joel Dhumakwezu added his voice on how the porous border is contributing immensely to the early child marriages.

“Majoni joni especially those from Mozambique are pouncing on our female students. They come at school and give money to our female students to lure them into marriage. Once a child is married in Mozambique, we have no power to control gender based violence cases there.

“Our area was affected by Tropical Cyclone Idai and livelihoods were destroyed. Male predators took advantage of the situation in the eastern border part of the country to lure the girls into marriage. We appeal for organisations like REPSSI to also consider educating communities both here in Chimanimani and Chipinge as well as Mozambique,” said Councillor Dhumakwezu.

REPSSI whose motto is Love, Care and Protection, were also the coordinators of the event, aiming to ensure that all children have access to stable care and protection through quality psycho-social support.

Such child focused initiatives has seen the organisation supporting the Mutsvangwa community in promotion of the well-being of all children.