Many Catholics Lack Sufficient Knowledge to Safeguard Minors: Baseline Report in Zimbabwe

Theresa Patience Sanyatwe, Child Safeguarding Officer at the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference (ZCBC). Credit: IMBISA

The report of a baseline pilot study in Zimbabwe’s Catholic Archdiocese of Harare indicates that many people in the Metropolitan See do not have enough knowledge to protect minors and other vulnerable people from abuses.

The report that has been written by a Child Safeguarding Officer with the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference (ZCBC) is part of the findings of the ongoing pilot project that seeks to set up a model to implement programs in all the eight Catholic Dioceses in Zimbabwe to protect children from abuses.

“From the baseline report, it became clear that many Catholics do not have sufficient knowledge about safeguarding minors and vulnerable adults,” Theresa Patience Sanyatwe said in the Thursday, April 21 report.

The Zimbabwean Child Safeguarding Officer said that the pilot project, which focused on the Archdiocese of Harare, will help them to identify some issues and lessons that they will use to make necessary amendments when they extend the study visits to other Dioceses in the Southern African country.

She said that the baseline study that focused on the Archdiocese of Harare sought to analyze the real situation on the ground involving child abuse and the safety of other vulnerable groups and examined the extent to which people know how to protect these groups.


“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 analyze the situation on the ground,” Ms. Sanyatwe said.

She said that from the baseline study, “The results also showed that there are no clear structures in the Archdiocese of handling cases of child abuse and vulnerable persons.” 

Ms. Sanyatwe said that the Archdiocese of Harare does not have “clear policies to guide the people in safeguarding children and vulnerable persons.”

In order to seal the gaps that exist in the Zimbabwean Metropolitan See concerning the issues of child abuse and protection of the vulnerable, “the ZCBC Child Safeguarding officer facilitated the development of the Archdiocese of Harare child safeguarding policy and Standard Operating Procedures.”

The policy and operating procedures, launched March 26 by the Local Ordinary of Harare, Archbishop Robert Christopher Ndlovu, was attended by the representatives of the Archdiocese including members of the Clergy, women and men Religious and the Laity. 

More in Africa

“The next steps will see to the implementation of the policy for one year, meanwhile monitoring its impact in the Archdiocese before the same program can be disseminated in the other Dioceses in Zimbabwe,” Ms. Sanyatwe said in the April 21 report of the baseline study.

Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.