OPINION | Western Cape Children’s Commissioner: Independent, working for children of the province

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Christina Nomdo. (Supplied)
Christina Nomdo. (Supplied)

Ricardo Mackenzie urges the executive and every government official in the Western Cape to work with the Children's Commissioner to ensure the best interests of children are protected and promoted.

For the past six years, I have served on and chaired several committees in the Western Cape legislature and  being part of the process of appointing the Western Cape Children's Commissioner has been my proudest achievement to date.

The Children's Commissioner is appointed in terms of the Children's Commissioner Act, following legislation that was signed into power in March 2019. The role of the Children's Commissioner is to protect and promote the rights of children in the Western Cape and to give the provincial government guidance and advice on how to create an environment in which children can reach their full potential.

In May 2020, after a competitive interview process, Christina Nomdo was appointed by the Standing Committee on Social Development as the first Children's Commissioner in South Africa.

The Children's Commissioner was nominated by the provincial legislature. Her nomination was accepted by the Premier. She is completely independent and in terms of the law, provides her reports to the Western Cape parliament.

The Children’s Commissioner should always be independent and free of any political interference. The role is of such importance that no one should tell the commissioner who to investigate and who not to investigate for matters pertaining to children. These principles are part of the rule of law and are a cornerstone of our democracy.

Every child's story is important

Currently, the commissioner's beautiful and child-friendly offices are being set up so that children will feel safe and comfortable to share their experiences. Every child's story is important and these stories have the potential to help other children in the province. Given the extraordinary times we face and the turbulence this brings in the lives of our children, it is all the more important that we hear from the next generation.

Since she took office in June 2020, Nomdo has been a champion of the two million children of the Western Cape and has maintained her role as a facilitator of their voices. This month, the commissioner, in partnership with the Child Government Monitors, launched project #LearninginCovidtimes. The project focuses on hearing the learning experiences of schoolgoing children, from Grade R to matric, and the suggestions that they have on how to improve learning in 2021.

READ | First Western Cape Children's Commissioner shares her vision for the future

It will take all of us to protect our children. No single individual can do it on their own but the Children's Commissioner has an extremely important role to play to ensure our children are protected. Children will look at her with hope and we need to ensure we look after them with love and compassion.

I urge the executive and every government official, in this province, to work with the Children's Commissioner to ensure the best interests of our children are protected and promoted. Her insight and knowledge into the lives of children and the struggles that they face are invaluable, and the bridge the commissioner builds for us ought to inform the way the Western Cape government interacts with the children of our province.

We all have a role to play in protecting children

All of us have a role to play in protecting our children, and the more support we give our Children's Commissioner, the better our children's future will be. The labour we put in today to start, set up, support and give our all to the Children's Commissioner will leave a legacy that all of us will be proud of so that in 100 years from now, our great-grandchildren will thank us for the foundation that we laid.

Therefore, everything we do in this province should be to protect and promote the rights of our children. We, at the provincial parliament, will continue to work with the Children's Commissioner to, if needs be, strengthen or bring about new legislation to ensure our commissioner and her office are thoroughly supported.

We owe it to future generations.

If you would like to join the conversation for #LearninginCovidtimes, please contact the commissioner via WhatsApp on 083 776 7067 or send her and email to childrens.commissioner@wccc.gov.za

 - Ricardo Mackenzie is the DA Western Cape spokesperson on the premier and constitutional matters.

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