Scant mention of children in parties’ manifestos ‘shows politicians don’t care’

Pan Africanist Congress supporter Paseka Sobane leaves the Human Rights Day celebrations in Sharpeville early because he has heard it all before, he says. Picture: Nigel Sibanda

Pan Africanist Congress supporter Paseka Sobane leaves the Human Rights Day celebrations in Sharpeville early because he has heard it all before, he says. Picture: Nigel Sibanda

It shows we do not care about the children and it explains why there is such high level of child abuse, the SA Human Rights Commission says.

The scant mention of children in the manifestos of the main political parties is an insight into how little politicians care about the future of the country, according to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC).

After Human Rights Day yesterday, the commission said politicians were shortsighted about children’s issues.

Human Rights Day commemorates March 21, 1960, when 69 people were killed after police opened fire on protesters burning their pass books at Sharpeville police station.

Angie Makwetla, SAHRC commissioner responsible for children’s rights, said the Children’s Parliament, inaugurated in 2011 to celebrate Madiba’s values by giving children a platform to discuss issues affecting them, scrutinised the manifestos, noting the number of times children were mentioned.

“The DA mentioned children more times than any other main political party. Others mentioned [children] between five and seven times. It says a lot about how much we care about children. It says we do not care about the children and it explains why there is such high level of child abuse.”

Makwetla said it was even worse that the main parties, except for Mzwanele Manyi’s African Transformation Movement, had not engaged the children about their manifestos.

“Political parties are shortsighted. A child of 13 or 15 this year is not a voter in these elections, but that child will be of voting age next elections,” she said.

As President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation at George Thabe Stadium in Sharpeville yesterday, resident Paseka Sobane sat outside his home down the road staring at a neglected park. He said it pained him that recreational facilities in the township have become no-go zones because of neglect.

“Where must our children play? It’s not only neglect, but also the playground equipment is stolen for scrap because people are unemployed,” he said.

The 49-year-old unemployed man, who depended on his 79-year-old grandmother’s old age grant, said there was no right to dignity for people like him and many others. A Pan Africanist Congress member, he left the stadium before Ramaphosa’s speech.

“They say the same thing every year but do little,” he said.

siphom@citizen.co.za

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