Zambia: State Aims to Remove 6,000 Children From the Streets

Zambia: State Aims to Remove 6,000 Children From the Streets
The Times of Zambia (Ndola)

February 1, 2007

PARLIAMENT heard yesterday that Government has plans to remove 6,000 children from the streets in the next three years.

Community Development and Social Services Minister, Catherine Namugala, told Parliament in a statement that Government had devised a system to remove children from the streets although it would be over a period of time.

Ms Namugala acknowledged that the problem of street children was a ‘time bomb’ if it remained unattended to.

She said the Government was working towards ensuring that the public desists from giving alms to children on the streets.

Billboards to educate the public on the negative effects of encouraging street children through alms-giving would be erected in many places, the minister said.

She also said the Government would enforce laws regarding child labour and would continue rounding up the children to engage them in productive ventures while others would be taken to reformatory schools.

"Above all, as a Government, we shall address the root causes that have made children go to the streets mainly through empowering programmes after identifying families where these children are coming from.

"Government, through my ministry, will therefore provide grants to identified families with children on the streets so as to empower them and we have targeted to remove 6,000 from the streets over a period of three years," Ms Namugala said.

She said currently, there were more than 10,000 children on the streets, a figure she said was alarming.

Kanchibiya MP, Albert Kanyanyamina (PF), asked what the Government would do to address the matter because it had partly caused the problem of street children by failing to pay some parents’ retirement benefits.

But Ms Namugala said efforts were being made to pay them. She said it was clear that most children on the streets were coming from families that were economically poor.

Katombola MP, Regina Musokotwane (UPND), asked what mechanism the Government would use to compel the public not to give alms to children begging on the streets.

Ms Namugala said the MPs should assist in sensitising the public on the matter.

The House also heard that Zambia needed a total of 27,000 police officers to adequately police the nation.

Home Affairs Deputy Minister, Chrispin Musosha, told the House that of the required number, Zambia only had 14,000 officers.

He was responding to a question by Mwinilunga East MP, Stephen Katuka (UPND), who wanted to know how many officers were needed to police the nation adequately.

Mr Katuka also wanted to know how many officers were retired, discharged or dismissed and how many died from 2001 to 2006.

Mr Musosha said 467 officers were retired during the period in question while 2,172 died, 46 were discharged and 48 dismissed.

The Government planned to recruit 1,400 police officers per year but that depended on availability of uniforms, accommodation, and other resources.

Mandevu MP, Jean Kapata (PF) said the police did not have enough transport for emergencies, but Home Affairs Minister, Ronnie Shikapwasha, dispelled the assertion as untrue.

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