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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 01 November 2018 45 15
PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Thursday, 1st November, 2018
The National Assembly met at a Quarter-past Two O’clock p.m.
(THE HON. SPEAKER in the Chair)
ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE HON. SPEAKER
ERRORS ON THE ORDER PAPER
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order, please take your seats. I wish to draw your attention to the first error on today’s Order Paper whereby the notice of presentation of the Companies and other Business Entities Bill [H. B. 8, 2018] by the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs was inadvertently omitted and accordingly the item should be inserted above the heading ‘Orders of the Day and Notices of Motions. Please insert it there.
The other error is on numbering of items, whereby notices of motion by Hon. Biti and Hon. Mutseyami were both reflected as No. 2.
HON. MLISWA: On a point of privilege! I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of other Hon. Members to congratulate Hon. Charumbira for being elected the Vice President of Pan African
Parliament; and to equally extend congratulations to you Mr. Speaker
Sir, for a Masters’ of Law Degree. We are very much inspired by that and certainly we wish you all the best in that. Thank you.
*HON. CHINOTIMBA: On a point of order! I am very grateful
to what the Ministry of Home Affairs has done. I asked for a vehicle to be used by Zimbabwe Republic Police in Buhera and my plea was fulfilled. The police in Buhera were given a vehicle to do the patrols and attend to the scene of accidents.
ANNOUNCEMENTS BY THE HON. SPEAKER
NON ADVERSE CERTIFICATE FOR STATUTORY
THE HON. SPEAKER: I have received certificates for Statutory
Instruments gazetted during the month of June, 2018.
PARLIAMENTARY LEGAL COMMITTEE MEETING
THE HON. SPEAKER: I have to inform you that the Parliamentary Legal Committee met on the 31st October, 2018 and considered all the Statutory Instruments that were gazetted during the month of June, 2018. The Committee is of the opinion that the Statutory Instruments gazetted in the month of June are not in contravention of the declaration of rights or any other provisions of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
COMPANIES AND OTHR BUSINESS ENTITIES BILL [H. B. 3,
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI presented the
Companies and Other Business Entities Bill [H.B. 3, 2018].
Bill read the first time.
Bill referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee.
REPORT OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION FOR THE
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND
PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Mr. Speaker Sir,
I move the motion standing in my name that this House takes note of the Report of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission for the year 2017, presented to this House of Parliament in terms of Section 323 (1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe which states that every Commission must submit to Parliament, through the appropriate Minister, an annual report on its operations by no later than the end of March in the year following the year to which the report relates.
Mr. Speaker, I move that debate do now adjourn. I think the Hon.
Members have not had opportunity to go through the report.
Motion put and agreed to.
Debate to resume: Tuesday, 6th November, 2018.
PROMOTION OF GENDER BALANCE AND EQUAL RIGHTS
OF MEN AND WOMEN
HON. BITI: Mr. Speaker, I move the motion standing in my name that this House:-
NOTING that Sections 17 (1), 56 and 80 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe provides for the promotion of gender balance and equal rights of men and women in all spheres of life;
ALSO NOTING that Section 17 (1) of the Constitution requires the State to take all measures including legislative measures needed to ensure that:-
- both genders are equally represented in all institutions and agencies of Government at every level;
- that women constitute at least half of the membership of all Commissions and other elective and appointed governmental bodies established by or under the Constitution or any Act of
- the State and all institutions and agencies of Government at every level must take practical measures to ensure that women have access to resources including land on the basis of equality with men;
CONCERNED that notwithstanding the progressive and revolutionary provisions of the Constitution, women continue to be under-represented in Parliament, Cabinet, Government and other institutions and agencies of Government at every level;
NOW, THEREFORE, resolves that Government urgently comply with the gender equality provisions in the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
HON. SARUWAKA: I second.
HON. BITI: I thank you Hon. Speaker. Hon. Speaker Sir, women constitute 52% of the population of Zimbabwe but notwithstanding this figure, notwithstanding the fact that women are the majority of citizens in our country – the majority of our women continue to survive on the periphery of human existence. Women continue to wallow in poverty. You will find them in communities selling tomatoes and vending all other wares. You will find them in rickety chicken buses traversing the length and breadth of the southern African region to places like Lusaka, Gaborone, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Maputo and Chimoio selling wares and ekeing out a living of the 79% of
Zimbabweans who live in extreme poverty, surviving on less than
US$0.35 cents a day - what is commonly known as ‘tsaona’ in the townships. You will find that by far, the majority of those people who are surviving on tsaona are in fact women.
So Mr. Speaker, it is my contention that the nonchalance, in other words, the failure by the Executive to comply with Section 17 does not start with marginalisation at the top. The majority of women are actually being marginalised at the bottom in communities, churches and schools as I will demonstrate in this motion.
Hon. Speaker, Section 17 is very clear but you do not start with
Section 17, you start with the Founding Principles of our Constitution. In the Founding Principles of our Constitution in Section (3), Zimbabwe is found in respect of the following values and principles. One of them is supremacy of the Constitution, the rule of law, fundamental human rights and (g) gender equality. So gender equality Hon. Speaker, is one of the foundation stones of this Constitution and you know Hon. Speaker that a lot of pain went through the crafting of the Constitution.
This Constitution was voted in a Referendum on the 20th March, 2013 and over 93% of the people of Zimbabwe voted in the Referendum to accept this Constitution. So Hon. Speaker, Section 17 is not an aspiratory provision, it is not the aspiration of the State to ensure that there is gender equality and that women are equally represented in public spheres. It is not an aspiration but an obligatory provision with positive obligations on the State requiring immediate compliance with the same now, namhla, nhasi, kachana.
Hon. Speaker Sir, the rights of women are not only just found in the Founding Principles in Section (2) but they are also found in the antidiscrimination provision of the Constitution of Zimbabwe which is Section 56 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. Section 56 reads as follows, all persons are equal before the law and have the right to equal protection and benefit of the law. The framers of the Constitution added another paragraph which was not necessary because women are covered in the sentence, ‘all persons are equal before the law’ but the drafters of the Constitution did this out of an abundance of caution and out of the need to emphasize the idea of gender equality.
Mr. Speaker Sir, Subsection 2 reads as follows, women and men have the right to equal treatment including the right to equal opportunities in political, economic, cultural and social spheres. I submit Mr. Speaker Sir, that this provision was not necessary but the framers of the Constitution put it to underscore the state of deficit when it comes to women’s empowerment, social activities, upbringing and women’s capacity to control the processes and products of their own labour. Women are objects and not controllers.
Apart from Section 56 Hon. Speaker Sir, we have Section 80.
Section 80 is also very clear and unambiguous. It reads as follows,
‘every woman has full and equal dignity of the person’. Hon. Speaker Sir, if you compare the similar provisions in the South African Constitution, it does not use the word dignity. There is a deliberate reason why the framers of this Constitution use the word dignity. This is because dignity imports the totality of an individual, “hunhu, ubuntu.”
So, the Constitution reads as follows, ‘every woman has full and equal dignity of the person with men and this includes equal opportunities in political, economic and social activities’. It goes on, ‘women have the same rights as men regarding the custody and guardianship of children but an act of Parliament must regulate how these rights are to be exercised’.
There is Subsection 3, which is very critical in the context of Zimbabwe and the majority of Zimbabwean men who hide behind culture and historical practices to perpetrate gender inequality practices against women. So Subsection 3 reads as follows, ‘all laws, customs, traditions and cultural practices that infringe the rights of women conferred by this Constitution are void to the extent of the infringement’. These provisions are key Hon. Speaker Sir. They were not put there for normative purposes and window dressing purposes. After all, according to Section 2 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, the Constitution is the supreme law of the land and any law, practice or custom that is inconsistent with the same is invalid to the extent of that inconsistence.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I want to come to the sad position in our country when it comes to compliance or non-compliance with Section 17 of the Constitution. It is regrettable that in the present Cabinet, out of 20 members, only six are women. That means that only 30% of the members of Cabinet are women in breach of the provision of Section 17
(1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
In the 2018 harmonised election that was held on 30th July 2018, only 17% of the candidates stood as women in the election of National Assembly seats. National Assembly seats are 210, so in the contestation of those 210 seats, only 17% of women stood as candidates and here I am excluding women that are elected on the ticket of proportional representation. At council level Hon. Speaker Sir, the country has 1950 local authority seats and only 15% of the candidates in the just ended local authority election of 30th July 2018 were women. When we come to the actual results, notwithstanding that there were very few women, the voting population reduced this number again so that the result we have now is that excluding women elected on proportional representative, women constitute 12.4% of this august House. The numbers only improved slightly, if I might submit by the PR Hon. Members. Otherwise the true number of women in this august House is a mere 12.4%.
It is not an African thing Hon. Speaker Sir. In Rwanda, in the 2004 election, 30% of the members of the National Assembly were women. In the next election conducted two years ago, the Members of Parliament who are women in the Rwandese Parliament is 64%. Other countries are making good progress. South Africa is making good progress, even a patriarchic society like Swaziland actually has more than 12.4% representatives as women.
Hon. Speaker Sir, the private sector too has to be ashamed. Out of the 482 directors of private companies in the private sector who are all members of the Institute of Directors, only 50 are women and this comes to a percentage of 10.3%. The regrettable state is that Government is actually doing better than the private sector. There are 10% female directors and at least there are 30% Cabinet Ministers. It is not a shortage of women Hon. Speaker Sir because with the 12.4% and with the 60 women who are elected on the basis of proportional representation, the country could still have 20 women elected from this august House. The numbers, even though they are paltry compared to the national level, they were still enough to fill 20 or 30; so we could actually have a Cabinet that consists of 100% women. The question that arises Hon. Speaker Sir, is what drives the marginalisation of women in Zimbabwe and across the continent? What drives the mindset of decision makers in companies, political parties, churches and civic society? What drives the mindset of decision makers and electors that we marginalise women?
I want to unpack those factors Mr. Speaker Sir and the point I seek to drive here is that it is not enough to simply say that we have appointed women that are 50% of the Cabinet and 50% of all the Commissions without actually unpacking the reason and tracing why women are so marginalised right from the bottom to the top. So, you can deal with the problem at the top and have this House full with 50% women but that would be an artificial solution; that will be papering over the cracks unless you deal with the substantive structural causers and status core of inequality at the bottom. This is what I propose and seek to do in this motion.
Mr. Speaker Sir, we have certain factors that are objective that affect the marginalisation of women. Mr. Speaker Sir, we have a number of factors that are objective to the extent that they are neutral. You will find them in Zambia, Malawi, West Africa, Senegal, Guinea, the Gambia and East Africa. These things have to do with, for instance, colonialism. The colonial state marginalised the African citizen, but between the native man and the native woman, it actually marginalised the native woman much more than it did the native man. That is why if you go to suburbs with great respect, suburbs like Mbare, Matute Block
C, Shasha blocks, Makokoba in Bulawayo, the early residences of Zimbabwe, Makokoba was constructed in 1921.
Women were not allowed in those settlements. They were settlements for bachelors, native African bachelors because the native colonial state did not recognise a woman. It objectified a woman. At least it could tolerate the native man because they had no choice about the question of labour. If they had their choice, they would say they do not want to see black people, but because they realised they needed labour, they said the woman stays in the Tribal Trust Lands and the man would be allowed to come and stay in places like Makokoba and Mbare Musika.
The accumulation model as well marginalised women. Our accumulation model is much skewed with an accumulation model based on extraction. We dig gold, platinum and chrome and we export it immediately. That accumulation model also marginalises the native woman more than it marginalises the native man. The colonial laws as well were responsible for the marginalisation of the native African woman. The native African woman had no legal capacity as Mr. Speaker Sir, you understand as a legal practitioner.
So, the native African woman could not sign a contract because she did not have legal capacity. She could not buy a house because she did not have capacity, but only her father or her husband had capacity. The legal capacity of an African native woman was changed like a ping pong between a husband and the father. If she married different husbands, they will keep on shifting her capacity in different hands. If she married three husbands at a certain time in her life, three men will have her legal capacity. Thanks to the Legal Age of Majority Act and in 1980, that was changed, but not withstanding that decision, I will refer to this later.
You have decisions such as the 1997 decision in Magaya versus Magaya which kind of reverses the Legal Age of Majority Act in holding that a girl child or a woman cannot inherit from the state of his father. I will speak about that a little bit later on. The developments in the International Community Globalisation per se also marginalised the African woman and I can speak about this. The one thing that marginalises the African woman particularly her participation in politics, particularly here in Zimbabwe is violent. Violence treats women unequal to men. It becomes a basis of gender inequality.
So, in this country Hon. Speaker Sir, we have had instances of violence lacerating our body politic that has had a fundamental effect on the capacity of women to participate in politics. It takes a great deal of courage for a woman, particularly a young woman to stand up and offer herself to public office. These violent incidents include Gukurahundi between 1982 and 1987. These violent incidences...-[HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections] - This violent history includes the violence associated particularly with the run off to the 2008 General Elections.
Mr. Speaker, in the process of researching for this motion, I went to the Law Reports. The Law Reports are a shocking mirror of the violence that has been carried out against women, particularly in the field of politics. These are reported judgements and I am going to cite a few reported decisions from the law reports of Zimbabwe that capture this violence against women which has been codified in our law.
So, I want to refer to the case that is now known as the Mberengwa
West By-Election Petition. The citation is 2002, Volume (1) Zimbabwe Law Report, page 233. That election at the High Court level was set aside among other things because someone known as Biggie Chitore heavily assaulted a woman, a member of the MDC known as Josephine Ngwena. – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections] - Another case that I wish to refer to and Mr. Speaker Sir, these are reported judgements.
The second case is of Rose Chauke versus Mare. This was an election petition for Chiredzi North and the citation of this judgement is SC147/2007. Again in an election petition, one Rose Chauke the plaintiff or applicant was badly assaulted in a case of political violence by a man known as Boniface Mutemachani. The third case is the case of Eugenia Kateera versus Minister of Defence, and the citation is High
Court, Harare 21 of 2007. Mrs. Teera was assaulted by members of the
Zimbabwe National Army on the 4th of June, 2003 in Glen View 1, Harare. –[HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections]- The High Court Mr. Speaker Sir...
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order.
HON. BITI: The High Court in Harare awarded her damages to the sum of US$4 000.00. The fourth judgement which is the most famous of the judgements is the famous case of Jestina Mukoko versus the Attorney General and the citation Hon. Speaker is SC11/2012. Now this judgment is particularly important because it was written by the current Chief Justice, Hon. Luke Malaba. That judgment granted a permanent stay of prosecution against Jestina Mukoko after the highest court in this land found that she had been tortured for a period in excess of 3 months by members of the Central Intelligence Organisation and this judgment has become an international authority for the definition of torture as defined in Section 53 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
Without going into the facts, I want to just cite other cases. I am not going into their facts for the sake of time. I want to refer to the case of Lilian Chinyerere versus Minister of Home Affairs and the citation is HC11969/2016. I want to refer to the case of Vina Ndlovu and five others versus officer Mazarura and two others, Chipinge Magistrates Courts and the judgment number is GL46742. I want to refer to the case of Ellen Muteiwa versus Officer in Charge Masvingo and the citation is GL208/15, it is a case from Masvingo. Lastly, I want to refer to the case of Constance Tshuma versus Muponesi Mpofu and 3 others, these women were assaulted in Plumtree and the citation is High Court Bulawayo 15/2015. I cite these cases to show empirically the existence of violence in our society, to show empirically that violence is responsible for the disproportionate number of women in this august House to men.
The second issue which is responsible for that is patriarch; it is an ideological framework in respect of which decisions are made and made purely from the point of view of a man – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.]- Patriarchy is a situation where society, political leaders and church leaders put on spectacles that see one thing and one thing alone, men. So, patriarchy has extended from time immemorial from the time even before Jesus Christ was born, patriarchy has always existed. Hon. Speaker Sir, there are various theories of patriarchy. Radical feminist view patriarchy as man’s control over the woman’s body and the woman’s reproductive capacity – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.]- So to men, the woman’s body is an object that is objectified. It is an instrument of pleasure and that is a source of patriarchy. To men as well, men control women’s reproductive health and reproductive
It is men who decide whether you can abort or you cannot abort, it is men who decide how many children you can have or cannot have. So, the men’s monopoly over sex and the reproductive capacity of the woman explains, particularly in a society like Zimbabwe where polygamy is legal. We have situations where some men are married to 29 women – [HON. MEMBERS: Madzibaba] - [HON. MEMBERS:
Inaudible interjects.] – Hon. Speaker Sir, what do you do with 29 wives other than just to control them?
The second point and this comes from feminist psychoanalyst, feminist of this tradition argue that the source of patriarchy is the way we raise children – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.]- So, firstly, children are raised by fathers and they are also women there, I call them
‘she-he’, these are called aunts matete, these tetes play the role of engendering gender inequality. In some societies including in this country, these tetes on behalf of their brothers the male oligarchy actually conduct on these young children virginity tests and all kinds of things to ensure that the woman is objectified – [HON. MEMBERS:
The way we raise our children is also a source of patriarch as I have submitted. The boy child in the rural area is allowed to go and head cattle in the bush. In the urban area, the boy child is allowed to play a play station xbox whilst the young girl child is in the kitchen learning recipes, learning how to saw and how to knit. So, the feminization of the girl child begins when she is young as little 3 or 4 years old.
The fourth source of patriarchy is the work place. At the work place, sex is weaponised. In the industrial sites in the workplace, many women are paid lower than men for the same job. Not only that but the capacity of the woman to climb the ladder, the ability of the woman to be promoted depends on whether she is prepared to have a carpet interview with those that control the workplace – [HON. MEMBERS:
Hear, hear.] - [AN HON. MEMBER: Even matools eParliament wotowirirana naChief Whipka.] –
The home too Hon. Speaker endangers gender inequality, in the home, it is the mother who is expected to cook, it is the mother who is expected to fetch children from school, it is the mother who is expected to clean clothes for the husband and the family. So, the home itself becomes a home ground for gender inequality and for patriarchy – [AN
HON. MEMBER: Iwe Chinotimba sha urikuita noise.]- So Mr. Speaker, I locate six places of gender inequality based on patriarchy. Number one is the mode of production; the workplace. Number two is paid work, number three is the State itself, number four is male violence, number five is sexuality, number six is…
*HON. E. MASUKU: On a point of order, 20 minutes dzakwana
– [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Member, can you repeat what you
just said, I did not get you?
*HON. E. MASUKU: I think his time was extended by 20 minutes and now it has already lapsed. – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order! Hon. Member, this is why I reminded all the Hon. Members that you must read your Standing Rules and Orders. The mover of a motion has no time limit to 20 minutes.
HON. BITI: Mr. Speaker Sir, apart from violence, there are certain other structural factors that contribute to gender inequality in our society. One of those is the missing women; the unnecessary disproportionate number of women that actually die in our society. The World Bank produces annually, a World Development Report and each year this report focuses on a different topic.
So in 2012, the World Development Report focused on gender and
what this report did was it calculated certain indexes, like the life expectancy of women, maternal mortality rates and women who die through violence. Most of these traps are found in the Third World. It then compared the number of women who die in the Third World with the number of women who die in the developed world. It found that everything being equal, the developing countries as opposed to the developed countries annually they lose 3 million women; so these are the missing women globally and I submit Mr. Speaker Sir that we also have missing women.
I am going to give a few statistics; the first one is the maternal mortality rate. The figures I am giving here – there are two national reports that are critical that I urge all Members to read and to have in their possession. The first one is the 2011 Demographic Health Survey, produced by ZIMSTATS with the assistance of organisations such as the
World Bank, UN, UNICEF and others. The second one is the 2015 Demographic Health Survey, which is the last one.
So I will give figures, in the meltdown years of 2006 to 2008, the adult mortality rates in Zimbabwe were as follows; 34 for women, in other words, on average by the age of 34, a woman would have died but for men same period, the figure was 42. So women are dying younger than men. In 2011, there was some improvement, for women 12.7 deaths per 1 000 compared to 7.6 deaths per 1 000 for men.
I come to maternal mortality rates. The maternal mortality rates are frightening Mr. Speaker Sir. The 2015 maternal mortality rate is 651 maternal deaths per 100 000 live births. That means that out of 100 000 women who are giving birth, 651 are dying in Zimbabwe. To put it in other way, out of a 1 000 women who are giving birth, seven are dying but the figure is worse for women who are pregnant, 1 in 37 of every woman who is pregnant in Zimbabwe will die and that is frightening.
Other countries the figure is now negligible.
So when you compare now the figure for Zimbabwe and other African countries and the developing country, you will see that our women are dying unnecessarily, so we have missing women. I submit Mr. Speaker Sir that perhaps the percentage population number of Zimbabwe women should be 52% but a huge chunk is actually missing; missing as a result of avoidable manmade self induced issue which is domestic violence.
Men use domestic violence as a weapon of controlling women. This violence is physical violence; it is emotional violence. Sometimes married women will say anotombo kurova ari better than anongokuitira emotional violence, akangokwindima kunge chikwambo – [Laughter. ]
So I want to give statistics from the 2011 and 2015 Demographic Health
Survey, 35% of women aged between 15 and 49…
HON. MUCHIMWE: On a point of order. Hon. Matambanadzo
is on the phone.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Can you come again.
HON. MUCHIMWE: I said my point of order is that Hon.
Matambanadzo is on the phone – [HON. MEMBERS: Hon. who?] – Matambanadzo – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections] – [HON.
ZWIZWAI: Inaudible interjections.].
THE HON. SPEAKER: Okay. Order, order. Order, Hon. Zwizwai. We are not allowed to take cell phone conversations during the proceedings. If there is an urgent call you are expecting you can quickly rush out, attend to it and then come back. Thank you.
HON. BITI: Hon. Speaker, I am referring to domestic violence. Thirty five percent (35%) of women between the ages of 15 – 49 have experienced domestic violence since the age of 15. Fourteen percent (14%) of women between the ages of 15 – 49 have experienced sexual violence at least once in their lifetime, and this is according to the 2015 Demographic Health Survey (DHS). Thirty-two percent (32%) of married women have experience spousal violence in Zimbabwe and this figure I need to say Hon. Speaker, that it differs from province to province. If you read this DHS it actually lists the number one province on domestic violence, number two, three and so on but I am not going to name the provinces, but there are certain provinces that are notorious.
The biggest causes of violence are the following - and some of them are very whimsy Hon. Speaker;
- Burning the food – many women are being beaten up by their husbands for burning the food.
- Arguing with him – if you argue with him anokuchaya, and this is scientific Hon. Speaker.
- Going out without telling him – (HON. MEMBERS:
Yees!] – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections] - iv. Neglecting the children – (HON. MEMBERS:
- This one Hon. Speaker madzimai ari kurohwa for refusing sexual intercourse – (HON. MEMBERS: Yes!] – [HON. T. KHUMALO: That is true.] – [AN HON. MEMBER: Unoenda, ko unenge wakavingei.] –
Madam Speaker, Hon. Samukange is smiling - but a new one which is fast exceeding all this is denying her husband or partner access to a mobile phone – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections] -. It is now a major source of domestic violence.
I want to move to another area Madam Speaker that engenders gender equality in Zimbabwe which is the area of water, energy and sanitation. Only 24% of households in Zimbabwe have water piped into the dwelling. So the majority of women, particularly in the rural areas only 20% of homesteads have access to water that is on the premises. Eighty percent of rural households obtain water from a source not on the premises; kutsime - kuborehole riri kushopping centre and so on. What is frightening Madam Speaker is that 30% of women in the rural areas report that they have to walk for a period of one hour to and from the source where she is finding water. That means one hour per day is actually lost for 30% of our women in the rural areas just looking for water.
I now want to come to ablution facilities Madam Speaker. Forty eighty percent (48%) of our people in the rural areas do not have access to covered toilet and that is a big number Madam Speaker. My rural home is in Murehwa and I used to wonder why there where guavas all over. There are guavas all over in the bush - until I realised that maguava aya ndiNyamuzihwa akambotonona. It is because we do not have access to covered toilets.
Now, I want to turn to electricity and only 34% of households use electricity as a source of energy in rural areas and 60% of households in Zimbabwe use wood as a source of energy. I stated that in respect of water, 30% of women walk for at least an hour for a round trip. In respect of firewood, 40% of women (a bigger number) walk for two hours to looks for firewood, that is now receding and receding.
For a woman in the rural area, before patriarchy, violence or any of these things I was talking about, the woman is already oppressed by two things; water and firewood and you cannot expect that woman then to say I am going to campaign now for a council seat and compete with Nyamuzihwa or Mwendamberi. There is no competition at all, over and above the challenge of raising children and cooking for her husband. So, these are things that engender inequality and that explain the meager number of women in this House.
Another area of disquiet is the husband’s control over the income of a woman – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear] – these statistics are so important and I refer to the 2015 Demographic Health Survey at page 297. It says Madam Speaker that only 32% of the women have absolute control over their incomes. Vamwe vese baba vanoti chiendai munotenga magwere, chiendai munotenga bhasikoro, chiendai munotenga huku and so forth - women do not have control over their income. However, the shocking thing is that for middle class women with education…
HON. KASHIRI: on a point of order! May the Hon. Member of
Parliament divulge source of his statistics?
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: You may proceed Hon.
HON. BITI: Madam Speaker, I have already said that there are two reports that I urge every member to read, it is the 2011
Demographic Health Survey and the 2015 Demographic Health Survey. They are all produced by ZIMSTAT and they are available freely. So, the source of my statistics, is actually the Demographic Health Survey. I have also urged Members to read the 2012 World Development Report on Gender. It is an amazing document in unpacking some of these issues.
I was saying that only 32% of women have got an absolute say and monopoly over their own resources but the shocking thing now is that the women that are less educated, the women in the rural areas, have greater control over their own resources; that is 35% than women who are in urban areas that are educated and the figure is 24%. So, those who are educated like the doctors, lawyers, accountants vanenge vachinzi nevarume vavo mari ndeyangu unoishandisa so and so.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, Hon. Member, may
you use one language?
HON. BITI: Thank you Hon. Speaker. So, it is a contradiction in terms OF that those that are supposed to be educated actually have less control over their own resources, particularly middle class women.
On the issue of assets – it is shocking Madam Speaker, that only 23% of urban women own houses that are registered in their names. that means that 70% of the properties you find in urban areas are registered in the name of a man. The provinces with the worst figures, provinces where women own the least amount of immovable property is actually Harare and Bulawayo. The survey says 46% of women in rural areas own a house but what is called a house in rural areas is normally a hut. So sometimes a woman would have just built a small little thing and then call it a house. You cannot really call that a property. So, women do own no property and without assets, it means that women continue to suffer gender inequality and discrimination.
Another area of structural inequality is the law. Madam Speaker, the law as it presently stands operates in an oppressive manner against women in private law and in the spheres of divorces, in the spheres of custody and guardianship of children, in the spheres of inheritance and in the spheres of division of matrimonial movable property. I have already referred to the case of Magaya versus Magaya whose citation is SC210 of 1998 which confirmed that a woman cannot inherit from her father’s estate, which does not make sense in view of the fact that there is now equality and there has always been equality in the old Constitution, which was Section 23.
Madam Speaker, we also have the instance in the law of child marriages and notwithstanding that the Constitutional Court in the famous judgment of Mudzuri and another versus Minister of Justice, abolished child marriages in January of 2017. The Government has not moved to amend the law so that child marriages are proscribed in Zimbabwe. So, as I am talking to you right now, child marriages are on the increase instead of being on the decrease.
Madam Speaker, when a husband dies and dies without a will , he is creating problems for the wife. The Government amended the
Deceased Persons Act through the Deceased Persons Amendment Act in 2007, but I would like to submit that the Act actually created more problems for women. The Act says that when a man dies and he does not have a will and they were not married in terms of Chapter 5.11, of the Marriages Act and by the way, the majority of women in Zimbabwe are not married, they are in what the law calls unregistered customary law unions. It is not a marriage, it is an unregistered customary union and this is a situation when a man goes and pays lobola. So, in respect of those, the law now says, the woman who was staying in a house takes that house. So, she gets the residence but the problem now is that the law now recognises polygamy. So, if the man had many other wives, for example 29, each one of those is entitled to a child’s share in this estate. So, I am not sure now whether it is a law that is benefiting women because it is now malseating the status of marriage.
Another area of the law where women are being affected is our women who are married in rural areas in these unregistered customary law unions. When you divorce and you are married in terms of the Marriages Act 5.11, Section 7 of the Matrimonial Causes Act has got indicators of how property is shared. They look at the duration of the marriage, they look at the contribution. These factors, the High Court and the Supreme Court have now interpreted to mean that wherever you are married and you are married in church in terms of 5.11, it is now basically 50/50. Lawyers do not even argue, they sign consent papers.
However, the challenge arises in the women who are the majority who are in unregistered customary unions because the Matrimonial Causes Act does not apply to them; it only applies to the Marriages Act or to marriages in terms of the African Marriages Act. So, lawyers now have to come up with fancy things like tacit universal partnership and women lose out. Women in the rural areas lose out more on divorce because when you get married, you leave your rural home in Mutare, Binga and you and stay with your husband in Dotito or Chiendambuya, in Nkayi. When you get divorced, ‘they just chase you like a dog and you move with a cow or two if you had children that were married and you leave with nothing.’
In Zambia and Malawi, there has been legal progress. At least they allow that house which you built in your husband’s rural home to be evaluated and you get compensation from the husband.
Another area of the law which is problematic for women is to do with beneficiaries of land from the Land Reform Programme. So, people got land from 2000 onwards, husband and wife you get a big farm from the Land Reform Programme. So people got land from 2000 onwards, husband and wife you get a big farm and you get a lease.
On divorce now can you share that farm? So we have got a judgment in the matter of Constantine Guvheya Chiwenga versus Jocelyn Chiwenga (Judgment Number S. C. 2/2014) which has said that the lease that you get from the Land Reform Programme is not divisible. The land belongs to the State, therefore as a woman, you do not get a share of the farm – even though a lease gives you rights. The good news Madam Speaker is that in the case of Marian Chombo versus Ignatius Chombo – [Laughter.] – (Judgment Number S. C. 41/2018.) The parties agreed on every other property except a huge farm in Mashonaland
West. The High Court judgment said, just like the Chiwenga versus Chiwenga judgment, Mrs. Chombo you cannot inherit, the farm belongs to the husband.
Fortunately the Supreme Court, in a judgment that has just come out written by Justice Uchena, the Supreme Court has ruled that a lease confers real rights and real rights are divisible. So the Supreme Court has directed that the matter be referred back to the High Court so that there is division over that farm. But you now have two judgments now of the same court (i) in Chiwenga versus Chiwenga, which says farmland cannot be divided and another one, Chombo versus Chombo which says land can be divided. The person who is suffering in all these processes is the woman.
So, given all these things, what is the way forward Madam Speaker? I submit Madam Speaker that we need to focus on five key issues:-
- The policy makers must focus on reducing excess female mortality, in other words, the provision of health so that women do not die and the closing of education gaps. Let us educate the girl child, let the girl child have PhDs and Masters Degrees because when you educate the female, you educate the entire tribe, you educate the entire village;
- Let us improve access to economic opportunities for women;
- Let us increase women’s voice and urgency in the household
in schools. By women’s urgency Madam Speaker, I am referring to the capacity of women themselves to fight and asset their own rights and issues – nothing about us without us. Then we need a brand new law that is called, the Women’s Act that deals with all these issues of women that I have been talking about, the personal issues of inheritance, the reversal of Magaya versus Magaya and the revisiting of the divorce regime particularly in unregistered Customary Law unions.
- The issue of guardianship on minors – 38 years after
Independence, you still have Section 3 of the Guardianship of Minors Act which says, upon separation the husband gets guardianship of the child. So if you want a birth certificate or passport you will have to go and look for the husband. Sometimes this husband is just a sperm donor, he ran away so you would have to go and look for him. I do not think that is fair – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] –
Next Hon. Madam Speaker, this law must ensure that there are mechanisms for ensuring that women occupy those public bodies in
Commissions, Cabinets and parastatals as is required in terms of Section
- I submit Madam Speaker that there must be penalties against public bodies that do not comply with Section 17 of the Constitution – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – The issue must also apply to political parties. Political parties must ensure that within their leadership there must be equality between men and women.
(v) We need to amend Section 124 (i) (b) of the Constitution of
Zimbabwe which restricts the duration of Proportional Representatives to 2023 – we need to repeal that. – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] –
So in conclusion, Madam Speaker, I submit that the ultimate answer to gender inequality is to breakdown the dura walls of patriarchy that exist in our society in respect of which women are seen as objects and commodities and in respect of which women have no control over the processes and products of their own labour. I so submit Madam Speaker ma’am.
Madam Speaker, I now move that the debate do now adjourn.
HON. T. KHUMALO: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
Debate to resume: Tuesday, 13th November, 2018.
On the motion of HON. TOGAREPI, seconded by HON.
NDUNA, the House adjourned at One Minute to Four o’clock p.m. until Tuesday 13th November, 2018.