‘Negotiation is often described as the art of letting the other side have your way. You have to give the other side a chance to put stuff on the table voluntarily.’
This year is not the first year where child marriages have been a hot issue amongst the apostolic sect. The culture has been ongoing for decades. Tragically, we are always reactionary to events rather than the issues at hand.
Recently, a 14-year-old from Marange died whilst giving birth at an apostolic church shrine, sparking outrage amongst citizens on social media and human rights activists.
The matter came to light way after the actual day of the incident because the girl’s family were bereaved and were seeking justice.
The silence in between shows the strong beliefs, loyalty, that exist amongst church members. Regrettably for them, this case, one of many such occurrences, could not be buried and forgotten.
The Gender Commission and the Police are said to be investigating the matter to determine what transpired. Unfortunately, these departments are investigating the results, rather than the root cause.
Oliver ‘Tuku” Mtukudzi would say, “ongorora chikonzero chaita musoro uteme, ugodzirisa chikonzero chaita musana ubande.”
Yes, the case can be investigated, results found yet the issue of marrying off children within the sect would remain.
Many a time, an opportunity has been presented to government officials to negotiate and denounce child marriages with the church leaders.
We have all seen the later Robert Mugabe in those white robes, yes we have seen the current President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the Vice President Constantino Chiwenga too. But largely, these interfaces were political. Leaders securing their votes! Because the sect has numbers for sure and it is politically unwise to deal them a heavy hand. There goes morality into the dust bin.
The church itself strongly believes in its doctrine and this may be a volatile issue if wrongly handled, but a neutral platform for negotiation will prove to go a long way in addressing the issue.
Last week the world celebrated International Youth Day. These young girls must be given a chance at education and life itself. Marriage at 14 years is nothing but a gruesome murder of opportunities for the girl child.
For Mandela, “negotiation and discussion are the greatest weapons we have for promoting peace and development. No problem is so deep that it cannot be overcome, given the will of all parties.”