Graça Machel, wife of former South African President Nelson Mandela, took Zimbabwean authorities to task on Tuesday for failing to protect human rights, in particular those of women and children, the latter being most affected by the protracted national crisis.
Machel, visiting Zimbabwe under the auspices of the United Nations Children’s Fund or UNICEF, said women should be given an opportunity to speak their minds on issues that affect them and their children. A champion African women and children’s issues, Machel said she did not condone the violation of the rights of individuals.
She was responding to a question from a journalist on how she felt about Harare’s policy of arresting women activists of the Bulawayo-based group Women of Zimbabwe Arise or WOZA every time they went onto the streets to express themselves.
Machel said children should not be made to pay the price for the country’s extended political stalemate and closely related economic crisis.
“I know there has been talk of crisis but I leave here with so much hope and if this is the quality of children growing in this country, this country is in good hands and you have to take control,” said Machel, who met many children in her three-day visit.
“You spoke to my heart and it was emotional," Machel told children she met and spoke with on Tuesday. “This session was enough and I don’t need any more to understand the situation on children in the country,” Machel declared.