I am Theresa Patience Sanyatwe from Zimbabwe, working at the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference (ZCBC) as the Child Safeguarding Officer, currently running a pilot safeguarding project in the Archdiocese of Harare.
The purpose of the pilot project is to come up with a model of implementing safeguarding programmes in all the eight dioceses in Zimbabwe. The pilot project will help us to draw some lessons and when we move to the other dioceses incorporate the necessary amendments. What we have done so far, with the assistance of different Consultants is that a baseline study was done in the Archdiocese of Harare in order to assess and analysis the situation on the ground. From the baseline report it became clear that many Catholics do not have sufficient knowledge about safeguarding of minors and vulnerable adults. The results also showed that there are no clear structures in the Archdiocese of handling cases of child abuse and vulnerable persons. It was also noticed that there are no clear policies to guide the Archdiocese in safeguarding of children and vulnerable persons.
Hence, the baseline study recommended to respond to these gaps which were identified. In order to give concrete solution to the gaps identified the ZCBC Child Safeguarding officer facilitated the development of the Archdiocese of Harare child safeguarding policy and Standard Operating Procedures which was launched on the 26th of March 2022 by the Archbishop of Harare, Robert Christopher Ndlovu. Present at that occasion were all the representatives of the Archdiocese which include priests, Men and Women Religious and the lay faithful. The next steps will see to the implementation of the policy for one year meanwhile monitoring its impact in the Archdiocese before the same programme can be disseminated in the other Dioceses in Zimbabwe.