SA, Zim build social partnership

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Pretoria - The Governments of South Africa and Zimbabwe are to sign a Memorandum of Understanding that will see the two countries working together on social issues.

The agreement, expected to be signed this evening by Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini and her Zimbabwean counterpart, will focus on children, HIV and Aids, substance abuse, disability and older persons.

As part of its contribution to the consolidation of the African Agenda, the Department of Social Development hosted a delegation of Zimbabwean officials from the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs from 31 October to 4 November 2011.

During the visit, the delegation visited various institutions including the South African Social Security Agency and shelters for victims of abuse and violence.

The department noted an increase in the number of children from Zimbabwe, who cross borders without parents, relatives or care-givers, especially in areas such as Musina and Makhado in Limpopo province.

"Commonly referred to as unaccompanied and undocumented minors, these children leave their country of origin for a number of reasons, including economic and social challenges. There has also been a noticeable increase of people with disabilities from Zimbabwe to South Africa in recent years.

"Like all other children, undocumented and unaccompanied minors need care and protection, South Africa is a signatory of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), which states that in all actions concerning children, the best interest of the child shall be a primary consideration.

"In addition, South Africa's progressive Constitution and the Children's Act protect unaccompanied minors to the same extent as South African children," the department said.