Govt abandons street children, fails to avail grant

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By Leopold Munhende

AUDITOR General Mildred Chiri has expressed concern over government’s failure to disburse finances towards the Children on the Streets Fund for the past two years.

In her audit report, Chiri observed that a meagre $963 in the Fund account was reserved to cater for bank charges.

“The sustainability of service delivery of the Children on the Streets Fund is not certain as operations are only dependent on grants from Treasury,” Chiri said.

“The Fund did not receive any income during the year under review to address financial difficulties affecting its operations…without funding from Treasury, the Fund may fail to achieve its objective of protecting and rehabilitating children living in and/or working on the streets.

“The board for Children on the Streets Fund did not meet in 2017 because the Fund did not receive grant support during 2017, and the small amount in the fund was meant to cater for bank charges and other service charges.”

Despite the absence of funds to cater for the children on the streets, Chiri observed that street children rounded up by police were either put in child institutions owned by government or private homes run by non-governmental organisations.

She advised those administering the elusive grant to take a proactive approach through requesting for funding from Treasury if they were keen on achieving the fund’s main objectives.

A 2017 Social Welfare Ministry report estimated that Zimbabwe has about 5 000 children living in the streets and were surviving on begging, washing or guarding cars, working as taxi touts or selling different wares.

Despite that they are susceptible to various social ills that include rape and sodomy, government does not have the capacity and facilities to register children on the streets commonly referred to as “street-kids”, according to Home Affairs Deputy Minister Michael Madiro.

“We do not have a practice or policy of going out to register street kids,” Madiro told Parliamentarians in May this year.