Children’s Parliament salute to Madiba

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14 July 2011

Nelson Mandela will receive a gift of a different kind for his 93rd birthday, with the inaugural Annual Nelson Mandela Children’s Parliament to be hosted at the Gauteng Provincial Legislature on Friday, ahead of the great man’s birthday on Monday, 18 July.

Children have always occupied a special place in Mandela’s heart. Within his first year as President of South Africa, Mandela had launched the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund (NMCF) as a sign of his commitment to the well-being of children.

Children will return the honour of his pledge to their cause by staging a National Children’s Parliament as a way of saluting him for placing them high on South Africa’s national development agenda.

Ranked as the key strategic activity in the building of a national child rights movement, the Children’s Parliament is initiated through a partnership between the Department for Women, Children and People with Disabilities and the NMCF.

Welcoming the inaugural Children’s Parliament, Minister Lulu Xingwana said her department believed children should not only be seen but also heard.

“Nothing better represents an opportunity to give credence to this collective view than convening a National Children’s Parliament where leaders from various spheres of government can affirm children’s voices with their valued presence.

“Holding all of us in authority accountable represents both the spirit and letter that our founding democratic President Nelson Mandela had set in motion on April 27, 1994,” said Xingwana.

Holding those in authority accountable

The Children’s Parliament will be held under the theme, “Holding those in authority accountable.” Deliberations will focus on three supportive sub-themes which are health, education and safety and security.

Elaborating on the theme, NMCF Acting CEO Moipone Buda-Ramatlo said: “By authority we mean the exercise of responsibility, duty and obligation to act in the best interest of the child to ensure their safety, wellbeing and development at all times.

“Families, communities, civil society and all spheres government dare not take leave from the wellbeing of children because in them lies the foundation of the future society envisioned in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.”

For the first time, government officials will be making a conscious effort to be part of a National Children’s Parliament session hosted under the navigation of Speaker of the Gauteng Provincial Legislature, Lindiwe Maseko.

Maseko said the Gauteng Legislature had had its share of civil society voices heard within its corridors, but looked forward to the element of difference that the Children’s Parliament would be bringing.

“The future we are battling to create can only be better by trying different but well-meaning approaches to the kind of a future we would like our children to inherit,” Maseko said.

Children parliamentarians will receive a salutary message from former President Mandela during the seating of the Children’s Parliament on Friday.

Represented at the Children’s Parliament will be five children from each of the country’s nine provinces.

The inaugural Nelson Mandela Children’s Parliament is scheduled to start at 10am.

Source: BuaNews