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Councillor defends child marriages

DEFENSIVE: Zico Maoveka

She was my wife when she was in her mother’s womb

Councillor for Komana-Toteng in Maun Administration Authority (MAA), Zico Maoveka has defended child marriages.

Rubbishing rife allegations that his recent defection from the Umbrella for Democratic Change to the BDP was an attempt to curry favour with the ruling party to avoi prosecution for defilement, Maoveka said, “ I have realized that its harder to win a second term under UDC because you run out of issues to criticize government for.”

The 35- year –old tribesman recently came under attack by fellow politicians for his marriage to a 15 -year -old girl.

“It is true that she was under age when I fathered our daughter, but that has nothing to do with politics. My decision to join the BDP was because I wanted to position myself better for the next general elections,” Maoveka explained.

“I have realised that it is hard for one to win a second term in our ward because after the first term it becomes difficult for a UDC candidate to convince voters. The first time around there are lots of issues to tackle but after 5 years many of those issues would be rectified,” he added.

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Some of the issues that Maoveka has found himself in the uncomfortable position of tackling so far at the council have included matters of domestic violence and child protection.

He admitted that he had often found himself in a sticky situation whereby he has had to defend his marriage while trying to do his duty.

“It is unfortunate that I may be a statistic in that regard, but you have to understand that in my Banderu culture we marry young and we practice arranged marriages. My grandfather gave my wife to me when she was still in her mother’s womb. We grew up together and she has always been referred to me as my wife and I had to wait for her to grow up before we made it official,” the councilor further explained.

However Maoveka could not say whether they started having sex when the girl was still in school or not. “I am not sure when we started having sex, but the thing is there was no problem with it as the parents had given us consent,” he said.

Maoveka and his wife who is now 22 years old have two daughters.

He insisted that those who alleged that he was evading a possible defilement case were only tarnishing his name for no reasonable cause.

“I have no issues with UDC leadership or the coalition in general,” he said.

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Meanwhile Child marriages according to Executive Director of Women Against Rape (WAR) Peggie Ramaphane are common practice in the North West District.

Ramaphane said what made it more complex to tackle was that communities including tribal and political leaders allowed it.

“People are hiding behind culture to perpetrate criminal acts against children. They stop them from going to school and it is a very sad situation,” Ramaphane added.

Ramaphane emphasized that while the children’s act criminalises sex with children under the age of 18, it is a futile law because it clashes with the country’s constitution, which says people should be allowed to freely practice their culture.

“That is why we say it is important to have a constitutional review as a whole to correct these anomalies,” Ramaphane said

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