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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 08 March 2016 42-41
PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Tuesday, 8th March, 2016
The National Assembly met at a Quarter-past Two O’clock p.m.
(THE HON. SPEAKER in the Chair)
ANNOUNCEMENTS BY THE HON. SPEAKER
SOCIAL MEDIA TRAINING
THE HON. SPEAKER: I have to inform all members of the
Zimbabwe Women Parliamentary Caucus that there will be a half-day training on social media on Friday, 11th March, 2016 at Nine o’clock.
All interested members should register at the Women’s Caucus Office Number 181. Those with laptops, tablets and smart phones are advised to bring them.
This announcement does not state where the training is going to take place. Anyone from the Women’s Caucus to assist; alright, so the Hon. Members in that caucus will have to consult each other. I was not given the venue.
APPOINTMENT TO COMMITTEES
THE HON. SPEAKER: I wish to inform the House that Hon.
Josephine Shava has been nominated to serve in the Portfolio
Committees on Environment, Water and Climate and Small and Medium Enterprises Co-operative Development.
THE HON. MARIDADI: Thank you Mr. Speaker. On a point of order! My point of order is on matters of process and procedure pertaining to this House. If you look at our Order Paper, Mr. Speaker, we have motions that have been on this Order Paper for as long as we can remember. We also have questions, like if you go to questions section; Questions with Notice, question number 1 to 16 were deferred last week from the previous week. It is becoming very costly to this House that if you look from the second page of this Order Paper to the last page, everything has been the same for as long as I can remember.
The only page that changes is the second page.
What it means is that all these other pages are a waste of resources because motions are deliberated on; Ministers are not coming to give their response. So, motions are remaining on the Order Paper without falling off. Ordinarily, when a notice of motion is given, like Hon. Kwaramba has done that she is going to move a motion on Thursday, if the motion is not moved on that particular day, ordinarily it should fall off the Order Paper because it is assumed that the Hon. Member is no longer interested in moving the motion.
I am worried that our Order Paper is not looking very good. We only have one day for our own business. Tuesdays and Thursdays are for Government Business. Our only day for business is Wednesday.
When Wednesday comes, after Questions without Notice, it appears all
Members of Parliament leave and there is no business that happens after 1700 p.m. We have so much Business to do and I implore your good office to whip Members of Parliament so that on Wednesdays, when we have our Business we go beyond 1700 hours, even 1900 p.m. so that we discuss the motions on the Order Paper. Thank you.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order! I hear the Hon. Member
and I thought he has answered himself partially to the extent that some Hon. Members leave the Chamber. How many times have I said stay in the Chamber and debate? If the motion is there on the Order Paper and we call for debate, nobody stands up. So, it is up to the Hon. Members to debate until the following day. The Standing Rules and Orders do not stop you from debating but we have suffered from lack of quorum. Also, it is not the duty of the Chair to whip Members. You chose your whips. It is they who must whip you to stay here and debate. As for some motions that have stayed their lifespan, we will definitely expunch them from the Order Paper so that we save cost as you have correctly indicated Hon. Maridadi.
MANICALAND STATE UNIVERSITY OF APPLIED SCIENCES
BILL [H.B. 8, 2015]
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF HIGHER AND TERTIARY
EDUCATION, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT. (HON. DR. GANDAWA) presented the Manicaland State University of Applied Sciences Bill (H.B. 8, 2015).
Bill read the first time.
Bill referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee.
GWANDA STATE UNIVERSITY BILL [H.B. 9, 2015] THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF HIGHER AND TERTIARY
EDUCATION, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT.
(HON. DR. GANDAWA) presented the Gwanda State University Bill (H.B.
Bill read the first time.
Bill referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee.
PRESIDENTIAL SPEECH: DEBATE ON ADDRESS
First Order read: Adjourned debate on motion in reply to the Presidential Speech.
Question again proposed.
HON. GONESE: I move that the debate do now adjourn.
HON. RUNGANI: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
Debate to resume: Wednesday, 9th March, 2016
STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY THE
Second Order read: Adjourned debate on motion in reply to the State of the Nation Address by His Excellency, the President.
Question again proposed.
HON. MUDARIKWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I feel I should stand up and make a contribution SONA. Allow me to first thank His Excellency, the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, Cde R.G. Mugabe for coming to the august House and deliver SONA. The 10 Point Plan he raised include number one, revitalising agriculture and agro-processing value chain. The good example is what has happened at Cashel Valley and Cairns Foods. I went there over the weekend; I saw that everybody was busy. Five hundred (500) hectares have been allocated to
Manicaland Province to produce beans and other vegetables required by Cairns Foods in the Cane process.
We have 300 hectares to be distributed to all other provinces. Mr. Speaker Sir, 2 000 households are going to be involved in this agricultural development programme and more so, the large number of participants are women. This is the only way we can transform the rural areas when our women are producing for a ready market which pays - not producing for GMB which does not pay. Farmers must not waste time looking for the market, it is there for whatever they produce. The companies employ agronomists and they are assisting Agritex officials to increase the yields. In our agriculture the most important thing is that if your yields are low, for example if somebody is harvesting 10 tonnes per hectare and you are harvesting two tonnes per hectare, you are always complaining that the prices are too low because your production is also too low. So, you will not enjoy anything.
The element of this value chain which has been introduced by Cairns
Food is critical. We now need to say let us buy Zimbabwe, let us buy Cashel Valley Baked beans. It was the best beans we used to eat. The tragedy that you are going to see as Zimbabweans is that one Government department is going to give an import permit to a particular company to import tens and thousands of GMO beans to compete with Cashel Valley. This person claims to be a businessman but alas, those are criminals destroying our agriculture, and they have no room in an independent Zimbabwe. This land we have today, the process of developing agriculture is what everybody agreed, stood for and we cannot have people coming in overnight to destroy our agriculture. We must never import anything that we can produce because we are just killing ourselves. The economy will never grow. So, I am appealing to the
Committee on Agriculture to go to Cashel Valley and see for themselves what is happening there. They should inform the relevant Government departments - it is a joke because one Minister has a Constitutional obligation to train farmers, the same Minister issues out import permits for importing vegetables that he has books in his office which tells him to produce beans. The whole thing is confusing and we are destroying our poor farmers in the rural areas.
So, we need to go and see what is going on at Cashel Valley.
When you look at the Agro-processing line; Bata produces quality shoes, in Midlands Gweru, they are the largest employers who employ about 1 350 workers but overnight we see people importing shoes. People are bringing in containers full of shoes, some of the shoes will be brand new in a box but they will be of one side like for the left leg and you have nowhere to complain to, because these are all imported from Europe – [HON. MEMBERS: From China] - Mr. Speaker Sir, people are trying to put words into my mouth, what I saw is that they were imported from Europe.
Before 2007, they were 76 African Caribbean Pacific countries, these are all former colonies of Europe, and they had what was known as Lome 1, 2,
3 agreements. These countries, including Zimbabwe enjoyed preferential
trade with Europe but then after the establishment of the European Union, there was what was known as the Economic Partnership. This meant that goods from Europe would come into any country in these 76 former colonies of Europe and compete. That is why we are now having shoes coming from Europe because we went into this agreement with Europe. Even in beer halls we see beer produced in Holland. In future Mr. Speaker Sir, the august House must look at some of these agreements because we have just been signing agreements that destroy us.
We have the issue of cotton – the production of cotton was mostly in region four and five but there is nothing. The major reason is that
Government banned the importation of second hand clothing but it did not ban the selling. If you go to every growth point there is a big market selling the second hand clothes. The major culprits are ourselves, we are not paying any duty, and most of those goods are smuggled. So, there is need for us, if we want Gokwe to return to its original status, we must allow the people of Gokwe to produce cotton. We must allow the people of Gokwe to sell their cotton at a reasonable price so that when they sell their cotton, it is put to ginneries. We must be proud to be wearing Zimbabwean clothes. If we were to check here in Parliament our clothing, we will notice that we are all putting clothes that are made in other countries yet we claim to be very patriotic. So the whole process must begin at home, we must support our home produced products.
There is the element of beneficiation and value addition. Beneficiation is the element of adding value - for example in diamonds, it is not even the cutting and polishing, it is just washing those diamonds then you know, on this consignment of diamonds what gem is and what is industrial. Diamonds have been exported unwashed and then they come and say it was 10% gem and 90% industrial. This has happened yet we say we are the most educated people in Africa. Our education does not recognise that people are stealing from us. We always want to think of things that do not help us. Cutting and polishing of diamonds is critical but all the cutting and polishing plants in Harare are not operational. Diamond producers are offering our people poor quality diamonds.
So, it is important Mr. Speaker Sir, that as a nation we realise what belongs to us. We must also realise that one day these minerals will lose value. There were emeralds in Mberengwa or Belingwe, Sandawana Mine. People used to struggle to go out there, but alas, one country is now producing synthetic emeralds. Nobody wants to hear about the emeralds from Sandawana, they are making them in a laboratory. One day it might happen on the diamonds. Synthetic diamonds are on their way on the market and we will be seated with those diamonds in Marange so it is important that we support our industry. When we do value addition we have created employment for our youths.
I was reading on the internet Mr. Speaker Sir, GMO free stock feed is on demand in many countries; here we have been producing GMO free soya beans and maize. We can be able to establish markets for our soya beans, add value to them, take the oil from the soya, get the soya cake and produce for the benefit of our people. Then our youths will get employed.
Finally, Research and Development is very critical in the development of agriculture and in the development of every other country. When you move around at Siyaso, Siyaso has remained what it was since I was a ten year old boy because there has not been any development. It is like rank marshals, they never changed since they started, it has always been Harare apo!, Harare apo! As a nation, we need to develop as we do some of our things because we are not rank marshals but a country that requires that we plan together and add value to whatever is in our hands.
I think, when we celebrate the International Women’s Day, we must also realise that 80% of our people live in the rural areas and more than 75% are women that need the support of this august House to continue producing, adding value and benefiting. In Mutoko and Domboshava, they produce a lot of vegetables but nothing is happening in terms of value addition. It is the responsibility of those relevant ministries.
I want to conclude by thanking you for allowing me to speak and I also want to thank Hon. Members who normally do not contribute for listening attentively and not making a lot of noise. Continue being attentive, as it is part of your learning process. I thank you.
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF HIGHER AND TERTIARY
EDUCATION, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT
(HON. DR. GANDAWA): Mr. Speaker Sir, I move that the debate do now adjourn.
Motion put and agreed to.
Debate to resume: Wednesday, 9th March, 2016.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF HIGHER AND TERTIARY
EDUCATION, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT
(HON. DR. GANDAWA): Mr. Speaker Sir, I move that all other Orders of the Day, be stood over until Orders of the Day, Numbers 12, 17 and 27 are disposed of.
Motion put and agreed to.
UNLAWFUL PRACTICES OF CHILD MARRIAGES
HON. MISIHAIRABWI-MUSHONGA: Mr. Speaker, I move
the motion standing in my name That this House;
TAKING NOTE, of the rampant unlawful practice of child marriages in Zimbabwe;
FURTHER Taking Note of the harmful effect of child marriages in Zimbabwe and other related customary practices such as the pledging of children;
ACKNOWLEDGING the abolishment of child marriages by the
Constitutional Court in the landmark ruling of Loveness Mudzuru, and
Ruvimbo Tsopodzi vs the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary
Affairs and others judgment, CCZ12/ 2015;
ACKNOWLEDGING and expressing indebtness to the
Constitutional Court for the bold and long overdue decision;
FURTHER ACKNOWLEDGING and expressing indebtedness to the young women Loveness Mudzuru and Ruvimbo Tsopodzi who brought the application;
EXPRESSING sadness at the indifference and failure of the Government, to actualize, Section 81 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe which promotes the right of children:
NOW THEREFORE, this Honourable House resolves as follows:
(a) That a promotion of gratitude and indebtedness be and hereby made in favour of the two young women Loveness Mudzuru and Ruvimbo Tsopodzi who brought and made the constitutional application;
(b)That Government moves quickly to:
- amend the Marriages Act, Customary Marriages Act; Criminal Codification Act and Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, such that child marriages are criminalized and the age of sexual consent be 18 years;
- review the Children’s Act to ensure that the rights enshrined in the Constitution are apparent.
(c) That Government, civic society and the church, adopt and implement a systematic program of education around issues of child marriages, sexual abuse and patriarchy in Zimbabwe.
HON. MAJOME: I second.
HON. MISIHAIRABWI-MUSHONGA: Thank you Mr. Speaker
and let me thank my other colleagues the Chief Whips and the Deputy Minister for agreeing to push our motion to the front.
Today is International Women’s Day and we thank you very much for providing us the opportunity to move this motion on International
Women’s Day. So we want to say, happy International Women’s Day to all the women that are in the House. – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, Hear]- Mr. Speaker, we also want to be able to move this motion in this context today and hope that our male colleagues will totally support us as one of our presents for this day. Let me start on a lighter note, this morning, as I was talking to one male who has the priviledge of taking me for a drink once in a while. I asked him why he was not wishing me a happy International Women’s Day. He said, but we just celebrated Valentine’s Day, I found that very telling and I queried why? He thought that International Women’s Day is the day that women just talk about their rights and all the other things. So why should he wish me happy International Women Day?
I thought we needed to raise this because I think we need to put
International Women’s Day into a particular context. For us as women,
International Women’s Day, is the day when our male counterparts whether they are sons, husbands, friends or boyfriends to which they say, thank you for the things that we give to them as women.
The back that we give to you, you need to be thanking your mother, wife or sister because this is the day to which you acknowledge us and say, thank you for everything that we give to you. It is unfortunate that it has now been turned into a day in which we speak about our rights. In fact, it should be the day to which you give us our rights to rest, enjoy and everything that makes us happy on this particular day.
I hope that after this presentation, all the males in this House will go out, pick up their phones and call all the women in their lives and thank them for being there. I hope that Hon. Khupe’s motion, that she moved last time, is still going to be taken seriously. It was a motion to say, give us a holiday on International Women’s Day.
Having said this, I am a bit convoluted today as I raise the issue of
International Women’s Day as the motion is speaking to two things. It is saying we have a constitutional judgment that requires us as a Legislature to put certain laws into place so that we can put into practicality a constitutional judgment that was made. – [HON.
MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections] –
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, Order. Hon. Members, your
whispers are too loud, let us respect the fact that we are all born of
HON. MISIHAIRABWI-MUSHONGA: Thank you Mr.
Speaker … - [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, Hear] - Like I said, the motion raises two fundamental issues. It says let us do something about the Constitutional Judgment and it also says let us do something about the things that are linked to the Constitutional Judgment. Before I go to the merits of that Constitutional Judgment let me raise one thing that I found very disappointing as it is the Ministers who are actually making noise.
It vaMudarikwa, vaDokora
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order!
HON. MISIHAIRABWI-MUSHONGA: The worry Mr. Speaker
Sir, is that when I was reading through the judgment there was a number of things that struck me. I thought I needed to raise those things because I think they are fundamental as we begin to look at issues to do with rights. The first thing Mr. Speaker that I think we need to do is to be able to congratulate these two women Loveness Mudzuru and Ruvimbo
Tsopodzi who were the applicants in this case. –[HON. MEMBES: Hear, hear]- We need to acknowledge them and we need to say they are the heroines in terms of having raised this message. I do not it is enough I had hoped Mr. Speaker because I did not know we will be able to move this motion today. I had hoped that they would be in the Gallery and they could stand up and we could acknowledge them. I am still hoping that we will be able to call them Mr. Speaker and that knowing you and the support that we get from you, you will be able to acknowledge them so that we can acknowledge them as a House –HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.]- The second thing is that Mr. Speaker when we have acknowledged people here those that are doing athletics or something like that we have given them something to acknowledge that they mean something. We have even given people that went to Big Brother and we have given them resources. I think as a nation, these are the people that we require to give something like a Diplomatic Passport.
I will indicate why.
They are going to be our diplomats in Africa the message right now is ‘make us girls and brides’. These are the girls who supposed to go and speak for this country because they themselves have been activists in their own right. I want to put a proposal that we acknowledge then as diplomats that they do get diplomatic passports and they become our ambassadors in pushing the issue around child marriages. So that is a better acknowledgement.
The second thing I want to raise Mr. Speaker Sir, that worried a little bit was - as this particular application was made, the people that challenged it Mr. Speaker Sir, unfortunately, among them was the
Ministry of Women’s Affairs and Gender. –[AN HON. MEMBER: It is very unfortunate.]- I think it is most unfortunate. I saw the Minister of Justice and Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. In fact, he is not the one who signed. The person who signed the application is a woman, Virginia Mabhiza. A gave her a call and I said I am going to raise your issue in the House. So, we had the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, a woman – then it was O. Muchinguri. We had Virginia Mabhiza the permanent secretary who is a woman. To cap it all, we actually had a woman lawyer Olivia Zvedi standing in to oppose this particular issue. I have not gone into the judgement Mr. Speaker. If you look at the issues raised by the respondents in beginning to argue and when I say respondents, you are talking about the woman lawyer who was defending this. This is one view they said. They suggested that the applicants were the cause of the problem. The cause of the problem as in Child Marriage and their argument was that they should have taken responsibility for getting pregnant.
This is a child who has come to court and has said the Constitution provides for me protection. This is a child who you are now saying you should have taken responsibility for being violated. I think Mr. Speaker this judgement should stand as something that says to us, if you are a woman in a position of authority and there is something that relates to women and girls, you could ask even if you are forced to say this is where I have a conflict of interest. If you want to proceed and you want to argue and defend this thing, I as a woman standing here will not part of that process.
I am hoping that as I raise these issues the women that were part of this Constitutional issue this judgment in particular should be able to say to themselves never again as a woman will I be used to stand and fight a war that I know is against myself. It does not make sense for us to come to this House and complain about an abuse by men when we ourselves were in positions of authority as women, we are un able to use that authority to defend. I am happy that my sister who is on the other side, the Chief Whip - pushed for this particular issue today as a woman, because she felt that it was important for us to raise this particular issue. –[HON. MEMBERS: Hear. Hear.]- I am hoping that we will continue to be able to debate that issue today.
Mr. Speaker Sir, let me quickly go into the issue that we are asking for. Basically, Mr. Speaker Sir, what we are asking for is that what the Constitutional Court said - in simple terms, we are outlawing any form of marriage of anyone under 18, whether that marriage is civil, registered customary marriage or unregistered customary. So, they basically, said we have outlawed. So, from the 20th of January 2016, it is unlawful for you to do so. What we are now asking Mr. Speaker Sir, is to now say we are criminalising anyone who marries anybody under18. It does not make sense Mr. Speaker Sir to say today do not marry. I know there are arguments that are being put around that particular issue but there is no point Mr. Speaker Sir, in making something unlawful and not criminalising it. Let me just give an example. The African Protocol itself on women’s rights, speaks to the issue that there should not be any child who is to be married under the age of 18. We as Africans and it is not a European one and it is not a UN one, it is an African Protocol. It is an African Protocol by ourselves. So if we are going to talk about customs, culture then we need to talk to the fact that we as African have stood up and have said this cannot be done.
That one has been said by the Constitutional Court but we need to bring it back to this House. What is it that we need to do Mr. Speaker Sir, from a legislative point of view? Firstly, we need to amend the Act - the Marriage Acts to set the minimum marriage for both boys and girls to 18 years. Like I said, we need to make it a criminal offence and this criminal offence should have a deterrent maximum penalty. Mr. Speaker Sir, but more than that - we want to amend the Sexual Offences Act . As we speak right now, the age of consent and the issue that was raised at the Constitutional Court are at variance. If we are agreeing Mr. Speaker that anyone under the age of 18 is a child, then we cannot of the same hand say no, proceed to have sex with this child but do not marry them.
It is an absurd way of saying it.
So if we say there is no marriage under 18 then it should follow that the age of consent should also be at 18 Mr. Speaker Sir. That is what we are asking this House to do. It is very simple. We know that we have got a lacuna in the law which is the issue around unregistered customary marriages. That is where we need to discuss and see how we deal with the mischief of unregistered customary marriages because the registered ones we can just set the age and say from 20 January there is no law that allows you to come in if you are under age 18 and for you to get married.
It is the unregistered marriages and the reason why we need to deal with those is that the excuse for a lot of people around statutory rape is they will sleep with a 13 year old and will say but I married her and use that as defence. If it is unregistered and if it is not criminalisied it means these people will get away with murder. Let us make sure that there is no lacuna in the law and let us close it up and very easily do it.
Mr. Speaker Sir, when we had that Zuva Judgment, we were called from recess to come here and amend that particular law because we felt it was in the public interest. This Constitutional judgement has been sitting with us. We still have not come to this House. I would have thought that the moment it came out, we would have rushed to come here and make sure that we address the issues that had been raised by the Constitutional Court. I am hoping that this will be dealt with as a matter of urgency.
Mr. Speaker, you will find it interesting that today if you go around these little girls that the older men have sex with now have a very interesting terminology, they are called tu anatomana. So, if a man is dating a little girl, they say ane katonomana kake kaari kufamba nako mazuvano. So, we need to make sure that people that have the capacity to come up with laws deal with these issues because they are then associated with persons who are seen to be making those laws.
On that note Mr. Speaker, I have engaged you and I hope we are going to get a good response from you Mr. Speaker. We want the males in this House and I hope they do listen because this is directly to them as Members of Parliament. We want male Members of Parliament to sign an oath, that oath says you in your personal capacities will not be seen to be having tu anatomana - [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections]
– yes, you need to be fathers to these kids. We have no problem Mr.
Speaker, if they do not want, we will merely say out of all the male Members of Parliament, these are the male Members of Parliament that refuse to sign the oath. Mr. Speaker, we will say these are the male
Members of Parliament who do not want to deal with under eighteens.
We hope Mr. Speaker you will allow us to get a table outside and get our Hon. Members to come in and sign that oath so that at the end of the day, they will not be seen to be associated in any improper relationship with anybody who is under 18….
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order, Hon. Member, I think
there are two things. Firstly, you need to be understood, I was battling in my mind as to what is tu anatomana. So, you need to define yourself in clear terms. Secondly, there are no male guys here but there are Hon.
Members of Parliament. Please stand guided accordingly.
HON. MISIHAIRABWI-MUSHONGA: I stand guided and I
withdraw the word ‘guys’ Hon. Speaker. I was referring to the street language that is used by people. You remember that when we had the Prosecutor General refusing to give that certificate for private prosecution, the understanding was that these young girls who were going there and pushing for this application were denied the right to take on men that were abusing them. Generally, it is now a terminology that is that if you are dating a younger person you then call ndina katomana kangu. Not that it speaks to Tomana, the person, I am just merely saying it speaks to the fact that if you are in a position of responsibility, you need to make sure that you are not then associated with a particular issue.
Mr. Speaker, I was saying we want our male Hon. Members of Parliament to be role models. We want them to stand up and say, not only that are we speaking against child marriages or having indecent sexual conduct with those that are under 18, we ourselves are committing to not being associated with that inappropriate relationship. This will send a message to all the other men that if Members of Parliament are standing up and saying this is not a done deal, it will encourage a number of people not to do so.
The second thing that we have been discussing with other female Hon. Members of Parliament is that in the next week or two, we will put our names and phone numbers in the newspaper, so that if there is anyone who has had an inappropriate relationship with anyone of our colleagues in here, they can tell us Mr. Speaker. We can come and tell you, and you can engage that person, and we may have to proceed to name and shame that person because charity begins at home.
Mr. Speaker, I know we are still engaging on it, please do not make a ruling, I beg. I am still trying to persuade you. We are hoping that given where we have come from with you Hon. Speaker and your support to women’s causes, you will agree to this particular movement. I do not want to take words out of your mouth and like I said, I really beg you because it is International Women’s Day. Please do not give us a no, think about it and we will stand guided by you.
In conclusion, thank you very much for allowing us to raise this on
International Women’s Day. Thank you for allowing us to put up the proposal that we have put today. Thank you for allowing the women in this House to be the voices for the women out there. I thank you Mr.
HON. MAJOME: Let me begin by wishing you a happy
International Women’s Day. I also extend and wishes to all the Hon. Members of Parliament that are in here as well as those from the media and the visitors who are here today. I am doing this because today is the
International Women’s Day. It is a good day for absolutely everyone for
men, women, boys and girls.
I want to thank Hon. Misihairabwi-Mushonga for moving this very important motion. The motion will see us congratulating two very gallant Zimbabwean daughters, that is Ruvimbo Mutopodzi and Loveness Mudzuru who were bold enough to take their rights into their own hands and go to the highest court in the land, the Constitutional court. They vindicated their rights as children but also their rights as women and citizens, so that the Constitutional Court gets an opportunity as it did to interpret the legal position in Zimbabwe as far as child marriages are concerned.
Mr. Speaker Sir, allow me to also roundly commend our Constitutional Court of Zimbabwe for stepping up to the plate and indeed, doing exactly what it is meant to do, that is actually showing the Constitutional light for us in Zimbabwe. Also, making a clear signal to say that child marriages in Zimbabwe are not permitted by law and they are not at all allowed and they shall not be done. I indeed salute our Constitutional Court.
In supporting this motion, I have very few words because I am indeed taken over by excitement and joy. I want to be able to continue to celebrate International Women’s Day. However, I will indeed say that in supporting this motion Mr. Speaker Sir, I want to draw the attention of the Hon. Members of this august House to something that this same august House did in the year 2006. This august House passed something called The Domestic Violence Act which was a ground breaking, I do not want to say earth-shattering, but it was a precedent setting enactment that was all over the world. I want to remind Hon. Members of this august House that Section 3 of the that Domestic Violence Act, that is still in force and that has not been repealed by this august House provides a definition for what it calls domestic violence, in that definition, it has a whole list of very nefarious acts that are a long list that include the usual that we think of when we think about domestic violence, which are reprehensible, such as, beating up people and depriving them of the economic welfare, et cetera.
In Paragraph L of the Domestic Violence Act that is still in force, there is a species of acts that pertain to child marriages that are also described and defined as domestic violence. The first one is the pledging of children into marriage, the second one is forced marriage and child marriage. As far as 2006, child marriage in Zimbabwe has been against the law because we have not repealed the Domestic Violence Act.
However, Section 4 goes on to do something that is even more exciting which talks to what Hon. Misihairabwi - Mushonga has said and also to what the Constitutional Court very correctly did in pronouncing the problem. Section 4 of the Domestic Violence Act, which was passed by this august House exactly ten years ago, gives Hon. Misihairabwi what she is seeking. It criminalises child marriages and it provides that any person who commits any of the following acts that are in Sub-section 3, which are domestic violence, including child pledging, forced marriage and child marriage commits a criminal offence.
Mr. Speaker Sir, it goes on to pass out one of the more severe forms of punishment that you can find on our statute books. It provides that if you commit domestic violence which includes child marriage, you can be sentenced to one of the highest levels of criminal penalty, which is level 14. You can also be imprisoned for up to ten years and you can actually be sentenced to both ten years imprisonment and the highest level of fine. I say this Mr. Speaker Sir to try and remind Hon. Members of this august House of the responsibility that we have as Members of Parliament to ensure that in our oversight responsibility, we ensure that the law that we have passed here in this august House is indeed implemented.
I want to salute the Constitutional Court because it dug from the archives this position that we already had as Zimbabwean law to remind everyone that in Zimbabwe, child marriage is against the law. I want to speak a lot about the Domestic Violence Act because it gives us an opportunity to ensure that we protect children from marriage. It is right there and it shows the tragedy that we have in Zimbabwe that we have wonderful laws and policies in a lot of ways but we are not implementing them. Thanks to the Constitutional Court. It has resuscitated the unlawfulness and the criminality of child marriages.
Mr. Speaker Sir, our Constitution also gave us that opportunity and I am hoping that Hon. Members will remember that in terms of the Constitution, we have a responsibility to ensure that the Constitution is implemented. As Hon. Members of Parliament, in our individual capacities, we have a duty to ensure that we do protect the girls who are in our constituencies from being abused. It is the sexual abuse of children that is actually glamourised as child marriage. It is nothing but sexual abuse.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I want to urge Hon. Members to continue their oversight role. As Hon. Misihairabwi - Mushonga indicated, there is now a very bad joke of a moniker that is being given to children who are abused by men; they are called Tomanas. That happened because the Prosecutor General of Zimbabwe made public statements that were most unfortunate and indeed most objectionable to the effect that they condone the marriage of children. Yet in terms of Section 4 of the Domestic Violence Act, he is the one who is responsible for ensuring that he prosecutes these men who have no shame, who go around abusing children and calling it marriage.
I am not aware of a single person who has been arrested in this country in terms of Section 4 of the Domestic Violence Act. It is time that Hon. Members of Parliament make sure that it is done.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order. Hon. Members on my left
you are not listening.
HON. MAJOME: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I want to make a call in this debate to the Prosecutor-General’s office to take its responsibilities seriously and to also take the criminal offences that are done because it is already a criminal offence. It has been a criminal offence to marry children since the year 2006. We should be seeing people having handcuffs around their wrists and being prosecuted for that. Unfortunately, it appears that in 2006 when the Domestic Violence Act was passed, there were no corresponding amendments to the Marriage Act, as well as the Customary Marriages Act to ensure that we remove from our statute books all reference to child marriage and all excuses for people who want to abuse children and hide behind the name of marriage.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I want to speak a little bit more about the Domestic
Violence Act and I am glad that the Hon. Deputy Minister for Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development is in the august House. The Ministry houses what is called the Domestic Violence Council in terms of the Domestic Violence Act. I understand that the Ministry has a gentleman laid agreement with the Ministry of Justice, Legal and
Parliamentary Affairs. While the Hon. Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs is a responsible Minister in terms of the Domestic
Violence Act, to administer it, they have a laid agreement with the
Minister of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development.
I call members of this august House to exercise our oversight functions so that Government Ministries fulfill their responsibilities. Mr. Speaker Sir, the Domestic Violence Act is a body which is designed and mandated to make sure that the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act are implemented. It has a whole array of representatives who represent stakeholders who are very vocal and indeed interested. It has representatives from the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Gender and
Community Development, Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Education, Health and Child Care, ZRP, civil society and traditional leaders. Mr. Speaker Sir, I cannot then fathom why it is that we have that Domestic Council in place. Why is it that for the last ten years, since 2006 when this Act was passed, child marriage which is a species of Domestic Violence, which this council is responsible among other species of Domestic Violence to implement, we had to wait for the Constitutional Court to make this important pronouncement? I said this so that we can now get to action and ensure that we take the action required to protect our girls from marriage.
Mr. Speaker, may I also take this opportunity to bring to the attention of the august House the work of an organisation called Parliamentarians for Global Action, which is an international organisation that has individual members of Parliament who join in order to promote causes such as gender and equality. This organisation, I speak about it because we have a chapter here in Zimbabwe that at the moment, I have a privilege of chairing which has a campaign against global marriage, which has asked Hon. Members of Parliament across the whole world to pledge to do more in order to end child marriage. In addition to the pledge that Hon. Misihairabwi - Mushonga enunciated, that is very direct to our Parliament, which I also echo. It will be wonderful for our male Members of Parliament to sign up to that pledge to say I will not abuse girls under the guise of marriage.
In addition to that, it is also an opportunity to call upon Hon. Members, male and female to sign up to that pledge, which is available online. A lot of Hon. Members have signed that pledge and I want to say Zimbabwean Members of Parliament always do us proud. They are among the top three countries that have signed this petition online to end early child and forced marriages. For those who have not done so, let us do so. I say this because I had the privilege of attending a seminar in Ghana, organised by this Association in 2014 where I also signed a pledge to do more as an Hon. Member of Parliament to end early child and forced marriage. When I came to Zimbabwe, I decided to go and seek audience with the Hon. Minister of Justice as he was then and now is our esteemed Vice President; to ask because he is the responsible Minister who administers the Marriages Act and the Customary
Marriages Act. To ask him to please expedite the process of bringing to this august House, Bills that will do what Hon. Misihairabwi-Mushonga is asking to amend Section 20 of the Marriage Act, so that we remove that opportunity that allows that Minister of Justice, Legal and
Parliamentary Affairs and guidance to consent to the marriage of girls.
Also insert a provision in the Customary Marriage Act to set a bar and limit for marriage of children. He graciously agreed to do so and even invited us because I also went with members from Plan International who had a campaign and he even said can you do a potential draft of the clauses you want changed.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I am happy to say that with the help of organisations that includes the Research and Advocacy Unit Camfed, the
Child Protection Society of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Women Lawyers
Association, Plan International and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, we were able to even obtain the services of a drafter to draft a proposed Bill to remove all those places in our statute laws that allow child marriage. That Bill is indeed ready for presentation to the Hon. Vice President and Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs as and when it is ready. It seeks to amend the Marriage Act Chapter
5:11, the Customary Marriages Act Chapter 5:07 and the Birth and Deaths Registration Act to tighten its provisions requiring the registration of ages of children. It also seeks to amend the Children Act because the Act also correspondents to the provision in the Marriage Act that allowed children to be married. Also the Criminal Codification and Law Reform Act to remove what it was calling extra marital sexual intercourse with children, so that it is clear as the constitutional court say that we do not want any sexual intercourse with children at all so that – in the Shona language there is a proverb that says – Regai dzive shiri mazai haana muto – loosely translated it means let eggs hatch into hens because eggs cannot produce gravy or soup. That is indeed the philosophy and the thinking that even in our own traditional customs and practices, children where children, they were allowed to grow. In this modern age, let us as Hon. Members of Parliament do our best to ensure that we protect our girls so that they are not abused sexually in a glorified form of abuse which is called marriage. Indeed, let us also align the age of consent to the age of marriage because there is no reason why we should baptise our girls to rush into having sexual intercourse, they have the rest of their lives to have it. Those two years between sixteen and eighteen surely, it is in their best interest to wait until they are able to deal with the decision of the consequences of having sexual intercourse.
Allow me to wind up by also encouraging our musicians, artists and our media to also play ball and stop promoting images that seem to condone sexual intercourse with girls and also marrying girls. Indeed, I must say one of my favourite musicians has a brilliant, good song but unfortunately he produced a video that shows very suggestive and sex dances being done by girls wearing school uniform.
Mr. Speaker Sir, while that is entertainment, but unfortunately, those things send messages that say it is alright for girls to wear little dresses and to dance in a sex manner and titillate men. It also sends signals into some perverted men to actually start drooling over school girls. I understand that as we speak, they are stories in the media about how there is an uproar where certain commercial sex workers are also now wearing uniforms that are sexed up, if I may call it that and are luring men. I am thinking that the men who will stop to buy the services from those sexual workers are actually going to stop because they have been attracted by a sexfied school uniform. If I go further, I am disturbed by the consequences that it means that they will actually find a school girl in a school uniform attractive and lure her away from the parts of virtue and detract her from there and that is the paths of child marriage. We need to keep our girls in school so that they attain qualifications and they are able to look after themselves and make decisions for themselves. We must show zero tolerance to rape and sexual intercourse with children and we must not marry children. We must remove those images and deceit from entertainment and media reports that seem to condone and encourage sexual activity and the titillation of people using children in sexual images.
Mr. Speaker Sir, allow me to please wind up and congratulate Hon.
Misihairabwi-Mushonga and also continue to urge Hon. Members of
Parliament to step up to the plate and to do more and the Ministry of Women, Gender and Community Development to, in future, desist from opposing applications in the constitutional court that seeks to promote the rights of women. The Attorney General’s Office must, in future, never again oppose applications made by women in the Constitutional Court or even other people in the constitutional court to protect their rights. It is tax payers’ money; we pay the taxes we expect the Attorney General and our ministries to protect our rights, not to use the money that we pay to sustain them to oppose our rights in the constitutional court.
Finally, may we, as august Members of the House and as well as Hon. Ministers who are responsible for bringing Bills, take away this increasing burden onto the Constitutional Court that we are heaping onto the Constitutional Court, for it to continue making pronouncement to say this is unconstitutional when the Constitution says so. May we have our Hon. Ministers bringing Bills to Parliament so that we align each and every one of their Acts that they implement to the Constitution so that the Constitutional Court is relieved of this burden because indeed a storm is coming. I thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.
*HON. MATANGIRA: Thank you Mr. Speaker for the
opportunity that you have given me to speak and add my voice concerning this pertinent motion that was moved by Hon. MisihairabwiMushonga. I want to add a few words to support what has already been said that we want to thank the Government for accepting the request that came from the children Topodzi and Mudzuri that these children should be allowed to grow up before they become brides. This is so that the mothers can enjoy what is due to them when a child gets married and know that they now have sons-in-law.
I want to add a few words that a crab moves sideways, if it bears a young one and teaches them how to walk, we are saying that the young one has to find a suitable side in which to move. So, what we are saying is that as mothers, we should talk to our children and advice our children because children take what their mothers say. Our African custom never at one time allowed a child to get married below the set age. The myth was that you would be inflicted with a disease known as rukumbi, meaning that a child has become active at a tender age and our elders would always say that you ate a raw mouse, meaning that the parents did not do well in bringing up the child. I want to thank Hon. Majome who seconded the motion. She mentioned issues that I wanted to say. We heard in the House that; Hon Misihairabwi-Mushonga said that, you the male Hon. Members; you should also commit yourself and append your signatures, that you will not be found wanting in this regard. The Hon Member was right when she was talking of Tomana, she was not correct; she wanted to say tombana meaning a baby. Mr. Speaker, I plead with you to forgive her because she was not talking of a particular person. In Ndebele they say intombi and in Shona they tombi and if it is still a baby it is ntombana.
The male Hon. Members in this House have been urged not to be in relationship with the young girls. I want to challenge them that how would they feel if you saw your 13 years old child in a relationship with an Hon. Member. I plead with my Hon. Members that let us not be found in relationship with the young ones.
I also want to say that Hon. Misihairabwi-Mushonga and Hon. Majome, we will also go and investigate and see if it is not Hon. Labode who is also stalking the young men. If we find Hon. MisihairabwiMushonga dressed in a child’s school uniform, what do we do Mr. Speaker Sir? Are we supposed to leave her or we should arrest her and take her to the police station and inform the police that this woman wants to become a child. It is tantamount to impersonation of the under aged. There should also be a law to address that. Those people should be arrested for impersonation.
My request Mr. Speaker is that the female Hon. Members should assist us because in the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development there is a female head. If it becomes legislation from Parliament and is gazetted in the papers and is in the
Constitution and there is no conscientisation, it is not known. In Hosea,
God says, ‘my people perish because of lack of knowledge.’ Today we are talking of Women’s Day; in my constituency where I come from, they do not know what Women’s Day means. If we go to Binga where my mother comes from, the women there do not even know what
Women’s Day is. Why do you not now embark on information
dissemination that will go right down to the grassroots, to the children and women in the rural areas? Advise the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development to do that. The Ministry should advise the people that the marriageable age is 18 years and above. If a child is married above the age of 19 years, we will give them a VW car or give that child cattle or goats as a challenge to ensure that girls look after themselves until there are of marriageable age.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I think this issue should be taken serious in this House of Assembly. If there is documentation, may it be availed to us so that we conscientise our children and women in the constituencies where we come from. The traditional leaders should also be given that information through their chief’s council, the village heads even at ward level should be given this information. God will bless us because what we have witnessed is that an old woman will put on a uniform looking like a child and then we are found wanting as we were found with these young girls.
Honestly, there will not be any rainfall if such things are happening. I want to end with these two words, Mr. Speaker, us in this House if there are those who have done that before, when we leave Parliament today, we should make sure that we desist from such actions and ask for forgiveness from God. If there are female Members of Parliament who also impersonated the school children, they should desist this and stop it forthwith. I thank you.
*THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon Matangira, this House is not the
House of Assembly, it is known as the National Assembly.
*THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR MANICALAND
PROVINCE (HON. CHIMENE): Thank you Mr. Speaker for giving
me this opportunity. I was longing to speak in this House but on this issue that is before us, as a woman, I felt I would not let it pass. I want to thank the mover of the motion Hon. Misihairabwi-Mushonga and the seconder Hon. Majome. As women if we are not in the forefront, the men will not do much. We want to thank you for bringing this motion in this House.
I want to support everything that you have said that it is not a small matter but it might not be pertinent to those who have not experienced it.
To those who have experienced it…
THE HON. SPEAKER: Sorry Hon. Members, I was checking on some technicality in terms of allowing a Member who is Minister of State to debate. Our Standing Orders are not very clear on that, so on the balance of doubt; we will allow Hon. Minister Chimene to speak.
*THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR MANICALAND (HON.
CHIMENE): Thank you Mr. Speaker. I thank this august House for giving me the opportunity, I was telling myself that I should finish quickly before I am told to sit down as a Minister.
However, I was saying that if you have not experienced this, you will look at it and view it as a trivial issue but when your child is found in such a situation that is when you will begin to feel the pain. I want to thank Hon. Matangira who has greatly supported this motion. As a man, we never thought you would say things as they are, we thought maybe you would put on your boxing gloves to defend yourselves. We want to thank you; you are a real man, a father who has a heart.
To other Hon. Members who are in this House, I do not have a very big issue but a message in my phone that I would want to share with you which I have just received. It goes like this: - Mr. Mwonzora, Headmaster of St Mathias Tsonzo, was involved in a fatal accident trying to chase a vehicle which had picked one of their female students last night. The Headmaster is very critical in Intensive Care Unit whilst the security guard of the school who was together with the Headmaster, died on the spot.
This is a school child. That is why I have said if you have not yet experienced it, you will not feel the pain. So, this is what has pushed me to speak Mr. Speaker. People probably just hear of what happens but this is a true and recent story that has happened. Maybe as I am speaking right now, I might get news that the Headmaster is no more. The school guard has died in an effort to protect a school child who is not even his own, which shows that he had a heart of a parent. School fees is now difficult to get, parents are struggling to send their children to boarding schools but some elderly man comes to snatch the child away from school. A child whose parents are struggling to get her school fees, this issue should be addressed in the harshest of manner. Sometimes, we end up thinking that in the prisons they are getting good treatment. His Excellency, the President, sometimes jokes and says badhiza . He normally says that if an elderly man rapes a young child badhiza. So, I think Hon. Members we need to take measures that man who do that are not man enough. They should be castrated and these men should be engaged in agriculture alone.
The two girls who went to the constitutional park, we had them at the launch in Manicaland, we really applaud them that they have done us proud. I agree with you that if a person does such a splendid job, we should not give the Government the load but take it up as women. We need to mobilise ourselves and go to the media, give those children whatever we can because they have fought a heavy battle and they are heroes of this law. I want to thank you, I may take much of your time and the order to stop me from talking might be raised. I thank you.
HON. MANGAMI: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. May I also add my voice to this important motion which has been raised by Hon.
Misihairabwi-Mushonga and seconded by Hon. Majome. The 8th of March is a very important day to us as women because it is the day we continuously check on the progress we have made on gender disparity.
The international theme for this year is Planet 50/50 by 2030, where the intention is to achieve some important goals. I was looking at the goal which is there to ensure that both girls and boys complete free equitable education. Then I was also wondering that since we are paying school fees for both girls and boys, I hope we are going to get to a point when the primary education fees is not paid so that both have equal access to education, for us to achieve the fifth goal on gender equality.
Hon. Speaker, I would also want to look at the other goal where by
2030, we should have eliminated all forms of violence against women in the public sector. We hope that the Ministry of Women Affairs and Gender Equality will spearhead that, so that we achieve the goal. I was looking at the Domestic Violence Act, a good law which was enacted. I was wondering, in terms of education which has been given to our communities for the awareness of this Domestic Violence Act? So, I would like to urge the Government to give more resources for the publicity of the Domestic Violence Act.
I understand in the Domestic Violence Act, there are AntiDomestic Violence Councils where we are supposed to have councilors in each ward but we do not have them up to now. I was also looking at the other item which I have seen in the Domestic Violence Act, the idea of stalking and I was wondering who is not doing that in our communities? Stalking is a crime in the Domestic Violence Act, following up someone unknowingly for the purposes of someone committing a crime, stalking is being done by both men and women…
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, Order did you say knowingly or unknowingly?
HON. MANGAMI: Unknowingly Mr. Speaker, you have to alert
them that you are following them. So that, yes …
THE HON. SPEAKER: You may proceed.
HON. MANGAMI: You have to know according to the Domestic
Violence Act, let them know that you are following them. We are saying everybody has committed this crime because they did not know it is criminal. So when people are educated on the components of the Domestic Violence Act, they will be aware of some of these things and that other issues both men and women do in terms of our culture are prohibited in the Act.
I think there will be less violence if the Ministry is allocated sufficient resources for the sensitisation of communities to these issues. In terms of police reports, every week, there have been 13 reports. The amount of violence being perpetrated on both men and women is actually alarming. So, I would want to say to Hon. MisihairabwiMushonga the issue of International Women’s Day does not only concern women but both men and women because everyone has been born out of a woman. I thank you.
THE HON. SPEAKER: I will recognise, Hon. Mpariwa, Hon. Zemura, Hon. Mandipaka, Hon. Chinotimba and Hon. Chasi in that order.
*HON. MPARIWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker and I say congratulations to Hon. Misihairabwi-Mushonga and her seconder Hon. Majome for this important motion that has come at an opportune time, on International Women’s Day.
Mr. Speaker, allow me to congratulate Zimbabwe as well as the Parliament of Zimbabwe for debating this motion on such an important day. I also want to congratulate the two girls Loveness Mudzuru and Ruvimbo Tsopodzi who I believe are on their way here. We want to welcome them and also thank you Mr. Speaker for allowing them to come here and hear our sentiments. If a person lights a lamp …
*THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, Order one of them has arrived, that is Ruvimbo Tsopodzi.
Ruvimbo Tsopodzi acknowledges her presence and stands up in the
*THE HON. SPEAKER: Thank you, you may be seated.
*HON. MPARIWA: We are delighted Mr. Speaker because once
a person lights a lamp and puts it under the table, people will not see it because it will remain dark. The light was lit by these girls with the assistance of the courts but it is our duty as Parliament. We should be asking ourselves, what is next when this happens?
When you look at laws that protect children in this House, they are all in bits and pieces. I remember when I was still Minister in the
Government of National Unity, there was legislation Children’s Act 5:06 and the Ministry of Health and Child Care also had legislation addressing children. It is important that the legislation that affects children is in one place so that it cannot be used as a byway, where the other Act says this, they should all be in one legislation. So, I am happy that we are talking about this issue advising each other that we are all duty bound.
I want to thank the Hon. Members who debated this motion and
agreed that it is a pertinent issue. I also want to look back and state that women were challenged to advise their children. We want to talk as if married couples are now divorcing because they got married yesterday. I am saying this because it takes both a man and a woman to have a child. So it is not fair for us to hear that it is the woman’s responsibility because it takes two to tango. A child belongs to both parents, whether they are together or divorced but for that child to be there, both parents had to be there. So, it is not fair for us to say, Maidei belongs to the father because she has done well and she belongs to the mother when she has done badly. We do not want to accuse each other of wrong doing or burn the whole house down simply because there is a snake.
We do not want to blame the mother because the child is in a problem.
I was happy when the Hon. Member said that, ‘…from today onwards, let us make our ways right and find the way forward.’ We are the ones in the communities, in this Parliament who can address these laws, and hear what is happening out there so we should ask ourselves what we have done about it? What did I do when I heard about this issue? I heard an Hon. Member say that we need to stop this forthwith and that if anyone was engaging in such activities, they should stop it forthwith.
We should also have Hotlines and inform people of what is happening. There is an organisation called, Child Line. They have a Hotline that you can call and they can take it up. So, you may be convicted if you are found with a child especially when you are a Member of Parliament since we are the ones who enacted this piece of legislation.
I also realised that there was conflict of interests of terms, especially on the issue of gender, that when a woman stands up, they say that gender can debate. We need to conscientise each other on the fact that gender refers to both men and women. What then happens in the communities is that women cannot do this.
*THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order are you now interrogating the Speaker? I was just reminding people that the women should be debating when I said that. We fully understand what the concept, gender means, you may proceed.
*HON. MPARIWA: My apologies Hon. Speaker, I am sure you
have heard it before that when a woman stands up to debate it is termed, gender.
*THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order are you now opposing the Speaker again?
*HON. MPARIWA: No, I am actually excited because it was
mentioned before you even said it and I did not hear you referring to gender. So, I always hear them saying, gender, you are the ones in the fore-front in the Women’s Caucus. I am saying that we need to conscientise each other on the meaning of gender.
My other issue is if you consider that when a child is raped or betrothed at a tender age. A child is denied of education as well as health and a child is forced to settle down with a person that she does not want. There are diseases that are there like STIs and HIV. This can affect the children’s future. Those children are the Mpariwas of tomorrow. They are the teachers and nurses of tomorrow.
Hon. Speaker Sir, this motion came to make us realise that there are children’s rights that we need to protect. We as legislators need to protect that. We as the leadership of the nation need to protect these children. Let me end by saying that all of us are parents in this august House. We all have people that we look forward to I think Hon. Chimene said it clearly. She said it last time in another debate. I would have been deeply pained if she had not been allowed to debate. We all have expectations for our kids. When you ask them who wants to be the Speaker of Parliament, you will see them raise their hand and when you say MPs, they do these games, which means that they also have expectations. When a child is put in a situation where they become child- brides, they are taken by those with power at a tender age, their hopes and aspirations and expectations are thwarted. Hon. Speaker Sir, what I am saying is that I want to support the motion. I have said my proposal is that the rights of the children should come under one legislation to ensure that those who interrogate these laws will know that they are relating to the rights of the children and they are found in this Act. I thank you.
*HON. ZEMURA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir, for giving me an opportunity to add my voice on the motion. This important motion addresses the lives of the people. When I look at child marriages that are taking place, I realise that they are destroying a nation. Certain families are being destroyed because children getting married to people not of their age. It is the elderly man who go and impregnate another man’s daughter who is equally his daughter’s age. I want to thank the children who took this issue to the Constitutional Court. These children who said that this issue should be brought out in the open because most children are being affected and destroyed by those in power.
When I look at it as a Government we delayed in interrogating this issue. The Government should have taken steps ages ago because the Act that was put, the Domestic Violence Act, actually looked at the abuse of the children. Sexual Offences Act also touched on rape of the children. This is when these issues should have been interrogated and legislation been put into place. Issues pertaining to women are not given urgency; if it had been the boy child, it would have been addressed long ago. Our traditional custom looked down upon the girl child and the women thus nothing is done. If I look at the way a child is loved, especially a girl child in a family and let us look the girl child in our families, and see how much we love them. Here, if we are told that such a boarding school has children of Members of Parliament from
Zimbabwe no one will come to Parliament if those children are abused. In my personal capacity I would like to say that I have a herd of cattle that was given by my sons in law as is tradition when they married. I never thought at one time that in the Zemura family I would own cattle, but because of my daughters I now own cattle. Now if a man rapes someone else’s child why can they not realise that they are destroying expectation, hopes and aspirations for that child.
Hon. Speaker Sir, I am looking at this issues brought in by Hon.
Misihairabwi-Mushonga and seconded by Hon. Majome. I realise that it is a pertinent issue and action should then follow without counting any more days to ensure that our legislation is aligned. Once we align this legislation, we will see who will fill up the prisons because they have said that there are elderly women who put on girls uniforms. So, we want to see who will be arrested. We want to see if it is the elderly women or the men because the mandatory sentencing for such crimes should be reviewed upwards. We should realise that and let us forget about cattle rustling sentence but let us look at the lives of the people. If a donkey is stolen in Tsholotsho a person goes to jail for five years but if a child is married under age we need mandatory sentence for that because we are destroying our own country. Let us consider this as a
Parliament in the National Assembly, we are very few women in this House.
What more if people continue to be married at a tender age? Are they going to become MPs? We also want to look at the effects of getting married at a tender age, that is around 14 to 15 years.
Psychologically, what the psychologists say is that the child is not yet mature and that child has not come of age. This means that psychologically this is affecting the child and you find that they will continue playing child games because they have been affected. Even if she bears five, six children, she will not be able to cope. If a child is young, she is affected psychologically and health-wise. So, the doctors should also consider the issue of child marriages and everything that child lacks. If you were to put that child together with a person who got married at 22, their behaviour is totally different. Those who were married under age remain under age for the rest of their lives because there is no thinking and you have to tell them that you need to economically empower them yourself. To her she is not mature enough to think that she can economically to empower herself. We urge civil society, and churches to embark on an awareness campaign and ensure that once this issue is there, everyone should have a duty even in boarding and day schools, there is need for an outreach to conscientise the girl children. Mr. Speaker, Sir, this motion is a pertinent motion because it deals with the lives of the young girls. It is actually hereditary because if a child gets married at 14 years, the child will also get married at 14 years. The mother will not oppose that because she will say to her daughter; your father married me at that age. So, we want to talk about it now that it should be abolished. If it was a custom of either Zezuru or Ndebele, it should come to an end. It should be outlawed. This idea of taking children should be outlawed. If a woman does that, you should know that she will become a widow at 14 years.
I want hope that the Hon. Members in this august House will take this message to their constituencies because if we do not take it out, most of our relatives will die in prison because some are taking children who are 15 years. I want to thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I support that everything that was said should proceed. I thank you.
*HON. MANDIPAKA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir, for giving
me this opportunity. I want to start by thanking the mover and the seconder of this motion. This is a very important motion for our families and also as the African people. I also want to honour and congratulate the children who took this issue to the Constitutional Court. I heard there is Loveness Mudzuru and Ruvimbo Tsopodzi who took up this issue to the Constitutional Court representing all the child brides.
So, Mr. Speaker, I want to say that as we look at our Constitution, I want to thank the nation at large that they were able to spell out clearly the issue of marriage. This is in Section 78 of the Constitution under Marriage Rights. If you will allow me to read it in English; as attained the age of 18 years has the right to found a family, this means that the people of Zimbabwe had realised that if a person is 18, be it male or female, he or she is able to find a family. That is the age limit that we are talking about as Zimbabwe, that is the ideal age for marriage.
So, I want to thank the Zimbabwean people. I also want to thank the Constitutional Court. I thank the Constitutional Court because the children brought their grievance to the court and the court understood this grievance and gave a ruling that protects these children. This court has to be applauded. I want to thank it because the other reason why
Zimbabwe was put on sanctions was because there was an issue that we do not follow the rule of law and also that there was no constitutionalism.
Mr. Speaker, if you look at what is happening; this august House was able to come up with legislation to ensure child marriage is not ideal. So, the Constitutional Court should be applauded. I also want to go back to Section 81 of the Constitution which talks of every child that is to say boy and girl under the age of 18 years, has the right to equal treatment before the law including the right to be heard. That is why I applaud this Constitutional Court because the children have a right to be heard. This is why I applaud the Constitutional Court.
I also want to go to Section 81 again, Section 81(e) to be protected from economic and sexual exploitation. I want to thank the movers of the motion because what they are doing is fulfilling what is in the Constitution. As MPs, we should sit down and ensure that we come up with legislation that protects the children especially from those who sexually abuse them at a tender age. Mr. Speaker Sir, I also look at what is in this motion, it talks about churches, civil society organisations and customs here in Zimbabwe. I am sorry my debate will be quite different from what has been debated. I want to talk about the customs of the African people in Zimbabwe. If you look at the customs of the African people, those were customs that brought a child in an ideal manner up to marriageable age, when a child now has wisdom and knowledge of how to run a family. They were given this by their uncles and their aunts. So, I applaud the African customs and traditions more than the customs that are coming in from the worst.
Mr. Speaker Sir, the issue that I want to talk about is the issue of cultural invasions. Some of these traditions that you are bringing in, that you want to adopt will destroy the way we leave. I say that Mr. Speaker because right now aunties are communicating via whatsapp, now the aunties can skype, and be on face book. These are the social media that are educating our children. So, our children want to grow up emulating what is on face book and what is in the whatsapp.
Mr. Speaker Sir, we should consider this august House the cultural invasions that are coming in and interrogate them and realise that some of these actually destroy our culture. Today, we see kids just loitering around, even their behaviour is unbecoming. We hear of places where they meet and they engage in some of these cultures that are not common to us to the extent of being intimate. So, we need to take up our African traditions and customs to ensure that our children grow up knowing what is right and wrong.
So, I want to urge the traditional leaders as well as the village heads and the parents that we need to have ideal conduct and cultures so that our children can emulate us, so that they grow up as respectable people in society. Also, I urge them to leave some of these cultural practices that are coming from the West that are destroying how we live as the African people. I urge; just like what Hon. MisihairabwiMushonga the mover of the motion and Hon. Majome, that our laws should address and deal with men who want to marry young children. We know that it used to happen. We even have religious groups that encourage the marrying of young children but we are saying this is not the time; we need to outlaw such practices and allow children to grow up. This is my request to the religious leaders. I also urge the traditional leaders to check in their various communities of the cultures that are engaging in such practices and address them.
I also want to say as Members of the National Assembly, when we go back to our constituencies, instead of just giving slogans at our rallies, we should also conscientise the people and advise them not to marry before they are of marriageable age. In schools, it should be laid out clearly that a child needs to grow up before she can become a bride.
If we go back to our cultural practices, there are some that are not ideal. Those we see, we should leave behind and adopt those that will bring up a whole African person. We need respectable people in our society, so we need to interrogate our cultural practices and traditions to ensure that we live in an ideal society. I want to thank Hon. Zemura who said that when her children got married, she got cattle as a reward as is our custom. Her children were brought up in the proper manner. They did not take their culture from watsapp or facebook and they married at an ideal age. I thank you Mr. Speaker for the time that you have given me.
With these words that I have said today, I believe one or two of them have touched on one or two lives. Thank you.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, in terms of Standing Order
Number 82 (2) a Member while present in the House must not converse in a loud voice and must not during debate read any book, newspaper or document in print or electronic form including cell phones, except in connection with the business of such debate. A member who is present in the House must not make or receive calls from his or her mobile device. I remind the House because I have observed that this Standing Order is not being followed.
ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE HON. SPEAKER
ZANU PF CAUCUS MEETING
THE HON. SPEAKER: There will be a ZANU PF Caucus
meeting on 9th March, 2016 at 1000 hours at ZANU PF Headquarters. All members of the ZANU PF party are urged to attend. Please advise your comrades who are not here accordingly.
*HON. CHINOTIMBA: Thank you Mr. Speaker. I want to add my voice to the good debate that was moved by Hon. Misihairabwi – Mushonga and Hon. Majome. It is true that children should be protected. We should not abuse children, especially the girl child. They should not engage in marriage before they are 18.
I want to disagree Mr. Speaker, with the mover of the motion. My disagreement is that we have a proverb that says the person who knows well what is happening is a person who is involved in it. That is what I got when she was debating. If a girl child has a boyfriend, the mother is the first one to know before the father. It is the mother who agrees to that union or not. In the Bible that I believe in, Titus 2 talks of the men and the women on bringing up a child, that if a mother is clever, has wisdom and does not give in to wine, we will not witness that child departing from the proper path. The problem that we have is, here amongst us, no one is clean. Let me say that no one is clean pertaining to this issue. We are all found wanting. Let me say that – [HON.
MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – I need your protection Mr.
Speaker. When they were debating I was quiet. What I am trying to explain is that …
*THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Chinotimba, yes you are talking about our African customs but you are not a witch doctor for you to know that everyone here is not clean. You should have said some of us are not clean. We would have understood that. So, you need to address that. I thank you.
*HON. CHINOTIMBA: Thank you Mr. Speaker. I withdraw
that statement. What I am saying is, if we look at each other here, it is not everyone who is clean. I cannot point out names. It is not only the abuse of women that is happening but there are women who are also abusing boys. We have a story that happened in Chitungwiza whereby a 65 year old woman took a young man aged 20. Again, we have a child who was 17 years and was herding cattle. He was taken by a woman aged 55. That issue went before the courts. I think as women debate this issue, as what was said by the Hon. Member that gender is not all about women but about men and women. Men are being violated; some of the women are the ones who spoil these children. The mother brings home a boyfriend and a child witnesses this. Now, when this child behaves in the same manner – that is why I said that if a child acts likewise, it is because they would have seen the mother doing it.
When that child leaves home going out in the evening, where do the parents think the child is going? Mothers should be clever and protect their children. You might not agree to this but this is what is happening. The women go to the beer halls, they come back with a boyfriend and the children are there and they see this happening. They send their children to go and ask for sugar or bread from a man who is living alone and the wife will be in the rural areas.
Some of us have rural constituencies so, when we come here we leave our wives behind and you see that mothers send their daughters to borrow sugar from such a man. Imaging borrowing salt from a man leaving alone – [AN HON MEMBER: Salt] – I did not say salt I said sauti, the term in Shona differs according to dialect. That is not what is expected from a good mother to send a child to go and borrow salt from someone’s husband instead of her going by herself. Instead they send their daughters to go and borrow salt from Mr. Chinotimba. What do they want Mr. Chinotimba to do when they send their daughters, knowing well that the wife is in the rural areas?
I am talking about our customs and traditions here. I agree with the motion that it is not right. I am not in disagreement with the motion but I am talking about our cultural practices. We are saying that women need to look after their children. We have a problem in Midlands University, the parents send children to university without money and food. There was a video that circulated of how children live. What do they expect their child to do when they send them to school without enough resources? Yesterday there was an issue on human trafficking which was on the radio and it was also in Kwayedza. If you look at those issues, those are caused by poverty; our nation as it is, in the past, when a child went to university, the university would give grants and loans that would be paid back when a child starts working. Now the
Government is having financial challenges and they cannot assist. There are also no jobs where the children can go and work and pay back that money.
If you travel in the Avenues area around 5p.m. you will be deeply saddened because the children who are there are very young 15 – 17 years; those are from the universities. What I am saying is that it is not only the men who should be arrested but those women who send children to school without enough resources must be arrested as well as the men who send children to universities without money - they should be arrested as well. The family is provided for by the mother and father so, it is their duty to look after the family. The mother and father who would have failed to provide for the children should be arrested because they are the ones who would have caused the immoral decadence.
Hon. Mandipaka talked about the apostolic sector where girls were encouraged to go for virginity testing; now it is termed child abuse. Why is it child abuse if the parents are protecting their child? They will fear that if it is known that they are no longer virgins, the children will not get married. These are the children who get married because if they confess that they were raped, they will be forgiven. We talked about this issue here in Parliament and I said let the church take root but the Members of Parliament refused and today children are engaging in immoral behaviour; if they are deflowered, the parents will know. If the parents say let us go to church and be examined, the child will say the parents are abusing me and they will go and report to the police. We need to consider what we can term child abuse.
What I am saying is that those people who interrogate the law should interrogate it seriously and where the child abuse is coming from. If we continue to say it is the men always, it is because Adam sinned and now the blame is put on everyone. The women have their issues that they do not want to bring out in the open because they do not want them to be known.
The cause of child marriages is on the women and I swear by my Bible that I am holding in my hand today, they push their children into early marriages. The only time when men where blamed in the Bible is when a King fell sick and they sourced for a solution they said that a child should be brought in and when the king moves it will show that he is still alive. So, I am saying that it is these women who actually cause child marriages. I support the movers of the motion. I was saddened on Saturday, I was at a meeting whereby I was preaching and I was preaching to the nation, I saw women without any respect who were breast feeding their children without covering their breasts. A decent woman should use a towel to cover her breast while breastfeeding or go away from the people but I did not see that happening. Now, if children see this they will adopt what they see their mothers doing.
I also want to support the issue of our African customs that was mentioned by Hon. Mandipaka. Our President is always talking about the issue of homosexuality but they want to take that. We have left our traditional African customs and want to take the cultures coming from the West. We need to look at our Bible and take what is in the Bible. What I am saying to the leaders who are here is that this law must be addressed. We should ensure that we have addressed it fully, not to just say it is the men who are the problem. Even the women should be imprisoned for such misconducts.
Mr. Speaker, most people in this august House are widows and widowers but my Bible says that if you are a widow around 60, you are young and may give us challenges because you want to get married to children who are 18 years old. So, there is child abuse and we have child abusers in this august House.
HON. CHASI: Thank you Mr. Speaker for giving me an opportunity to say a few words on this very important motion that was moved by Hon. Misihairabwi-Mushonga. I want to start by congratulating the whole of Zimbabwe for celebrating Women’s Day today – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear] – Like the previous speakers, I do not believe that it is a day that is confined to women only; I believe that the gender issue is a man/woman issue.
I want to single out a group of women for acknowledgement. I want to acknowledge the women of this country who fought for the liberation of this country – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear] – The difficulties that this group of women endured during our war of liberation, I think surpasses any of the difficulties that women currently face in liberated Zimbabwe [HON. MEMBERS: Yes!] – So, I think as we celebrate this day, it must not be academic, it must be practical and I want to congratulate the mover of this motion for raising a very fundamental issue that we must consider as a country.
I want to take a slightly different approach from the previous speakers but I must say that I am personally very impressed by the Biblical skills of the previous speakers as well as his oratory skills which were quite impressive in some respects. I want to say that in addition to the various items that have been suggested on this motion, I agree that the laws pertaining to children would need to be consolidated into a single piece of law which is easily accessible. I also think that our laws in the respect of child abuse should be more holistic. The approach, part of which I have witnessed today in this House, which seems to merely focus primarily on men, I think is erroneous.
I think that our laws must be broad enough to cover the following persons. The persons who are aware of child abuse and do not take any steps to report or bring to – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear] – book individuals who are engaging in that practice. This is important in the sense that it will compel relatives who participate in this decision and encourage, say, the father of the child to sell off their child to a man as part of an early marriage.
I also think that we need to take an international perspective in respect of these crimes. I say that if we abhor the practice in this country, we must also abhor it wherever it occurs. In other words, if somebody who is known to have committed or participated in a crime concerning child marriages comes into our jurisdiction, our laws must be able to allow us to prosecute – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear] – the individual concerned.
I read with great trepidation the issue concerning Albino hunting in Malawi, a story that was extremely depressing where a child was snatched away from its mother by five men. The child was an Albino
and they were to go and clip off the child’s hands and other body parts. I think that is something that as a country we should abhor. If an individual crosses into our country and it is proven that they have participated in this type of conduct, I think we must be able to take action against them and provide jurisdiction for our courts to deal with such matters, notwithstanding the fact that they have not occurred in Zimbabwe.
I also want to say Mr. Speaker that as members of the Pan African Parliament and the SADC arrangements concerning our Parliaments, I would like to say that the members of this House who represent us in those Parliaments must be required to raise these issues at those forums, as well and take precisely the positions that we are taking in this country to ensure that child abuse is not only dealt with legally in this country but also in countries that we deal with.
I want to say that this is a very serious matter which in a sense is an indictment on some aspects of our social life. A lot of young girls end up in marriages because after Form 4 they cannot go to Form 6. As a country, we need to think outside the box and ensure that we come up with interventions that assist the girl-child in particular. When we speak about child abuse, we will talk about both boys and girls but when it comes to child marriages, we are really primarily talking about the girlchild as the focus of the problem.
I have witnessed this in my constituency, when we have a meeting you see girls as young as 14 years old, trooping to the centre of the meeting holding children. It is a very embarrassing and painful situation and I think that all the ministries that intersect with the child, ought to come up with interventions that favour the maturity of the child and their continued education. There was mention here about artists and others playing their role, as Members of Parliament we also have a role to play and speak against this at every meeting that we hold and to ensure that the local leadership also understands the gravity of the matter. I think we need to move away from the pretense that it is part of African culture that a 10 year old child should be married.
I am sure that the mover of the motion will be pleasantly surprised and impressed with me in that as a budding musician I have already done a song around this issue appropriately titled “regai dzive shiri, zai harina muto”. I thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.
HON. KHUPE: First of all, I would like to thank our Speaker of
Parliament because he is very gender sensitive. Today is International
Women’s Day, there were so many motions ahead of this motion but he allowed this motion to be debated. Last year a similar thing happened – there was a motion where we were urging the Executive to declare the 8th of March so that it becomes a public holiday and there were several motions ahead of it but he allow the standing over of other motions so that that motion could be debated. So, I would want to thank you very much Mr. Speaker.
We always talk about bringing the gender agenda into Parliament but Mr. Speaker Sir, I think since 2013 as female Members of Parliament we have done very well in bringing the gender agenda into
Parliament. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Hon.
Misihairabwi-Mushonga and Hon. Majome for bringing this very important motion into this House. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Ruvimbo Tsopodzi who is in this House and Loveness Mudzuri for taking this matter to court because what they have done is that they saved lives of many girls. They have saved the future of many girls. They have saved the dreams of many girls. Had it not been for this landmark ruling, dreams and visions of some of these girls would not have been realised. So, I would like to thank them very much for what they did. I would also like to thank Roots, the organisation which helped them to do this.
A lot has already been said but I would like to allude to the fact that teenage pregnancy is one of the major drivers of child marriage because to most parents falling pregnant equals marriage. I would like to urge parents that if your child falls pregnant, please let us not chase them away. A child is a child. The law says anyone, whether female or male who is below the age of 18 years is a child and they must remain
children who should be treated with respect and dignity just like any other human being.
There are so many men whom I think are not mentally stable. Can you imagine an old man taking a 13 year old and sleeping with that girl? This man would be enjoying himself and the little girl would be screaming and shouting in pain. This man does not feel sorry for this little girl. He continues to enjoy himself and then we say this person is normal up there. They are not normal. They are mentally disturbed and this is why whoever is found wanting, justice must prevail because enough is enough. Our children are suffering Mr. Speaker.
Yesterday I had an opportunity to listen to Ruvimbo Tsopodzi and Loveness Mudzuri, Mr. Speaker Sir. If you had been there, you were going to cry. They were telling us about their ordeal. They were married at 15 and 16 years. Loveness got pregnant whilst she was doing her ‘O’ levels and her parents chased her away and she got married. Ruvimbo came home late and her father said go back to where you are coming from. She was not pregnant then and four months later she became pregnant and she became a mother. These children have gone through a torrid time. They have gone through thick and thin. Let us feel sorry for other children.
We also spoke about household poverty. Household poverty is one of the drivers of child marriages. The impact of household poverty equals marrying girls at a younger age. Older men end up preying on these young girls. Once these little girls fall pregnant and if they want to give birth, there is what is called the vascular vaginal fistula (VVF). What happens is that when they go to labour, their labour is protracted because they are young. Their bodies are not yet ready to give birth to children and the baby end up coming using the wrong way. It breaks everything. At the end of the day what happens is that urine and everything else comes out uncontrollably. They become outcasts in life. No one wants to live with them because they will be smelling all day. Is this what we want for our children? These are the results of early marriages.
Moving forward, we have very good laws and policies that protect young children. The biggest drawback is that they are not being implemented. We have got so many laws but they are not being implemented. Coming up with laws without the corresponding ability of implementing those laws is as good as not having laws. I think we have got this allergy to implementation. I think that allergy must be taken away. We must implement what we agree on. There are so many laws which protect these children but they are not being implemented.
Traditional leaders must be educated about this law. They must be educated about this landmark ruling so that in turn they educate their subjects about this landmark ruling, but I am afraid to say some of these traditional leaders do exactly what we are talking about right now. When we were consulting on the Domestic Violence Bill in Binga, we paid a courtesy call to one of the chiefs. When we got there we found little girls carrying babies on their backs and we thought these are chief’s children. When we sat down, we were told, no, no, - there were about three of
four of them carrying little babies. We were told these are the chief’s wives. I have never been hurt like that.
What we did as a Committee is that we picked our bags up and left immediately because we said we cannot sit here and watch these kind of things happen. Traditional leaders must lead by example. They must make sure that children are protected. They must educate their subjects that children are children and they must be treated as children.
They are not brides. They will never be brides and they cannot be brides.
There is also need for a national action plan to end child marriages.
Let us have a national action plan – we want more action than talking. Right now we can talk about this landmark ruling but as long as there is no action, it will remain a talk shop and we do not want this thing to remain a talk shop. We want action on these issues so that whoever is found wanting, goes to jail like what the other Honourable Members said. The girl child must be empowered. Once a mistake happens and they fall pregnant as mothers and fathers we should not let them go. Let us allow them to stay with us. Let them give birth and let us take them back to school so that they have a future. Education is a foundation for a better life. Once a child is educated they are guaranteed of a better future but once they are not educated, they are not guaranteed of anything. We are saying as parents, let us ensure that if our children make a mistake let us look after them. Let us not give them away because these children are suffering, like he said, you do not know what our children are going through. They do not know what marriage is all about and what love is all about. What happens in their home is just that men make love to them and they give birth to children and that is it. That becomes their way of life and I do not think that is what we want for our girls.
Let me conclude by saying that those who are affected should not sit and be passive victims. They must stand up, dust up and move forward like what Ruvimbo and Loveness did. As I speak right now,
Ruvimbo is doing her O’levels and Loveness could not make it today because she registered at the Women’s University. She is doing a diploma in Social Work.
It is important that they do not just stay there as victims. They must move forward. Like I said, I would like to thank Ruvimbo and Loveness for a job well done. I would also want to thank Roots, the organisation which helped them. I would also want to thank the Hon. Members who debated on this motion because this is a very important motion. Let us look after our children. A child is a child. Let children be treated with respect and dignity just like any other human being. I thank you.
*HON. CHAPFIKA: Thank you Mr. Speaker. Firstly, I want to support the mover of the motion and all the Hon. Members who have supported the motion. I also want to encourage and appreciate this day – the International Women’s Day.
The motion that is before us is sacred. It takes us back to our historical perspectives in our lives as Africans. It gives us time to reflect on what we have done from way back to where we are today. Usually, when we are coming up with legislation, we do not normally consider the cause of some of these things. I am sure Oliver Mtukudzi sang a song pertaining to this.
Our children especially the girls are mostly at risk because they are the ones who get pregnant. They look after the children and also look for food. The legislation should also look at the boy child. What should happen to him if he marries at fifteen years? We have them in our constituencies. When these boys marry at such an age, they do not provide for the family in any way. This is the opportunity for us to address these issues.
In my opinion, we are dealing with symptoms and not the root causes of why these children may be married. As Parliament, we need to consider what has caused these girl children to get married before they are eighteen or twenty one. Like the previous speaker highlighted, these early marriages are mainly caused by poverty. The other thing would be religious practices that are pursued by certain religious sects that encourage child marriages.
I want to support what Hon. Chinotimba said and it really touched me. He said that when children went to university in the past, Government used to assist by giving grants and loans. When a child is who is above eighteen years and is at university phones his/her parents and asks for food and money; some parents dismiss them and say ‘you are now grown up, fend for yourself’. If you tell a girl child these words, what are you implying? If you are to tell these words to a boy child, he will engage in armed robbery. A girl child will go and engage in prostitution. Our behavior to children should be considerate.
What should the Government be doing about this issue? We have the social welfare Ministry. Where does it come in? I said it before that we are dealing with symptoms instead of the causes. We need to attack the causes. If a person has a boil, you need to make sure that you deal with the cause because if you do not, it will not heal. We can talk and sing that children should not be married at tender age but birth certificates will be changed and affidavits will be written to give false information that a child is twenty one yet she is fifteen years. There are some Apostolic sects who do that. A man can have ten wives and each wife can have five to seven children. They have fifty children and the man cannot fend for his family. What can be done about that? The children are not even in school.
We are saying that children must not be married before they are eighteen years. We have agreed to that but what are the factors that are causing this? The Government needs to take responsibility to address poverty. It should take ownership. It is not enough to say we have put in legislation. There are some pieces of legislation that cannot be implemented because they are not implementable. As we are in this august House, let us not just echo what has been said. We need to interrogate deeply into these issues.
In South Africa a child gets married at sixteen years. It must be specific in the law what then happens. Both girls and boys cannot marry before they are eighteen. Let us talk of child marriages and not just the girl child. What about child sex? If a child is below the age of 18, he/she should not engage in sexual activities. Those are the issues that we need to interrogate so that we come up with solutions on how best these children can be protected.
Mr. Speaker Sir, Zimbabwe has its cultural norms and values.
There used to be aunts and uncles in families who used to guide – [AN HON. MEMBER: Zvataurwa.] – it does not mean that if it has been said before I cannot talk about it again. We should analyse our cultural norms and values and align it with our Ministry of Rural Development and Preservation of Culture and Heritage. We should come up with means and ways of promoting these norms and values and incorporate the input into our laws.
Mr. Speaker, I stood up to support this motion. However, we should not be reduced to talk shows whilst we leave out some important issues that may hinder the norms and values of our people. Some laws are not being enforced because the Government will have failed to implement its policies. The State must take ownership of these policies. People should not manipulate laws through changing birth certificates and facilitating child marriages. Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.
THE HON. SPEAKER: In terms of Section 106 of our Standing Orders, we are discouraged from repeating what has been said. Those who are going to make their submissions now, we want fresh ideas and let us stick to the motion.
HON. MAPIKI: Thank you Hon .Speaker. Firstly, I would like to thank the two ladies who ensured that this case received the best attention to the extent of being declared a policy. The act of these ladies is similar to what happened in 1966 in Chinhoyi when the First Chimurenga started and the comrades made the first gun shots. I realise that these two ladies started their own Chimurenga and we will document their names in the book of records. There is need to be brave.
The most challenging issue Mr. Speaker Sir is on court proceedings when such crimes are committed. We are saying this should be an enforceable law and yet those who are responsible for prosecution are seemingly not taking such issues with the gravity they deserve. I am not trying to denigrate the Judiciary, but there are issues where the judges do not have decent accommodation. These judges may end up renting at the apartment of the one who would have committed the offence. This may trigger corruption and the offender is left scotfree. In order to address these issues, we should make sure that the judges have their own apartments where they do not end up mingling with such offenders.
In my constituency, Shamva, many children under the age of 18 were raped, impregnated, abused and infected with HIV/AIDS. However, if one would analyse the way the prosecution took place, there is no consistency. A suspect who is charged and sentenced to 12 years imprisonment is discharged without serving the full 12-year sentence. We as legislators may engage in a lot of talk-shows assuming that these issues may be addressed, but to no avail.
The gathering of evidence from these under-age victims who would have been raped or married off at a tender age takes off the morality aspect of our values. They are asked introvert questions even if the session would be held in camera. For example, a child is asked every detail on what was done on her and most children feel shy to narrate each act as it was done on her. I think this is one of the issues that should be analysed. The surveys which were conducted in Mashonaland Central and Shamva Constituency, have the highest number of children getting married at a tender age.
The most critical issue is the presence of the HIV/AIDS pandemic and a 15-year old child is orphaned and left with nine other siblings. That same child cannot afford a fifty-cent coin to buy a sanitary pad and she is expected to take care of nine children. This is one of the factors contributing to child marriages.
In our education system, there is no policy that promotes vocational and technical training for those who fail to attain high levels of education. In the past, there used to be what is called F1 and F2 where a child at Early Childhood Development stage and primary level would be able to do carpentry or construct buildings. That is why they managed to survive even when those children are later orphaned in life. Even some Members of Parliament speaking in this august House sometimes support the idea of marrying off a child at 15 years. If a 15year old child is orphaned and is a neighbour to a Member of Parliament like Hon. Chibaya, he may even fail to donate a bag of maize to help feed the family. If Hon. Chibaya notices a neighbour’s child being abused, he may not be able to report the case – [Laughter] – saying this could be black magic and if I report, I may be bewitched. Those are some of the issues we need to analyse.
I would like to thank the Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) who are advocating and lobbying for the stoppage of this kind of abuse. However, the way they address these issues is not different from giving someone some pain-killing pills like panadol, which kills the pain for a while. Let us nip it in the bud. If donations are made towards the emancipation of children, it should be channeled to the rural areas and in vocational training centres. Qualifications should not be considered when one is being enrolled at vocational training centres, even a small child should be trained on self-help skills. As Government, we should make the best analysis on who should be enrolled with Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and other
However, we are looking at an educational system with a 15% pass-rate and 85% may end up in poverty-stricken situations. Most of this unfortunate group of students may not qualify in any other Government programmes offered by our Government and they should be catered for in vocational training centres. The Government should finance these centres and ensure that every ward has vocational training centres. This will ensure that every child grows up with a self-help skill within the community such as fish farming, carpentry, sawing, gardening and so on. These are the projects which are available in our rural areas and the children should be skilled to participate. These children may not talk about being trained in automotive engineering because they live in rural areas.
These issues should be considered so that our children are empowered to avoid children under the age of 15 from being abused. The case of these children can be compared to a tale of a sailing ship which was inserted a hole where a human neck and head were needed in order to seal the hole and save the people. In this regard, a female child may end up for the beheading of her head in order to save the nine children left for her to feed. The hole is sealed and the water is stopped from entering but one would have suffered.
We have a programme of the Traditional Leaders’ granary, zunde ramambo, currently, many people in the rural areas are faced with drought and hunger. In Rushinga, children are being fed on okra remuwuyu. This shows that even if we craft a lot of legislation, if a child has experienced hunger and poverty for years, she is forced to get into an early marriage. So, the issue of vocational training centres and education of our children from ECD, a child must be taught life sustaining skills and avoid too many theories of agriculture, but practical skills. The legislation that says no child labour, I think that is no child labour, but we are equipping them for their own sustenance. If I die of HIV/AIDS, my brothers cannot look after my children. If children have life skills, they can look after themselves. If they do not, that is when they engage in child marriages and get married to elderly men because that is what is available.
In Kenya, child marriages are also rampant. They are also introducing vocational skills for children to sustain themselves. This shows that when the donors are coming in, they do not say this for the girl child and do workshops only. They now see to it that they equip them with skills such that if a child drops out of school, he/she can use the skills to sustain himself/herself. As MPs, I was thinking that we should take this and look into it because people can be arrested for child marriages, but this will not bring the issue to an end. Those neighbours cannot assist and people will just be pointing fingers at each other. So, we need to address that.
The issue that was mentioned by Hon. Khupe that children who are giving birth whilst they are too young is where most of the cancer is coming from. If a child cannot afford a bundle of vegetables, it is not possible for them to get cancer treatment. You find that they end up getting married at a tender age because they cannot afford health care.
Mr. Speaker, I thank you.
HON. SANSOLE: Thank you Mr. Speaker. I want to thank the mover of the motion Hon. Misiharabwi-Mushonga. I want to applaud the constitutional court for the landmark ruling outlawing child marriages. I do not want to repeat what has been said about the evils of child marriages and the violation of women. We all know that violating a woman sexually is one of the most horrible crimes that one can commit.
I just want to go on to penalties because I feel that the justice system is a bit weak on the penalty. There are laws outlawing child marriages and there are provisions for penalties against people who pledge their children as collateral and in settlement of debt. I want to call for the amputation of the offending organ Mr. Speaker. Instead of sending convicted offenders to prison, they should just be sent to hospital where doctors will remove the offending organ and just leave a hole enough for urine to be expelled from the body. –[HON.
MEMBERS: Hear, hear]- Thank you Mr. Speaker.
THE HON. SPEAKER: The Hon. Member Sansole, is it the real amputation or simply to make the person unable to do what they have been doing without amputation? Anyway, it is food for thought.
HON. J. TSHUMA: Thank you very much Mr. Speaker Sir, for giving me this opportunity to air my voice on this very important subject. I want to thank Hon. Misihairabwi-Mushonga and her seconder Hon. Majome. I am going to be very brief on this one. I stood up because I have noticed that it is happening mostly in my constituency. You find that we have got a lot of child headed households. The parents are overseas either in England or South Africa. These children remain alone and their parents send a lot of money, whether for upkeep or whatever, and then they have excess of that money, they end up doing like in Bulawayo; there is what is now popularly referred to as vuzu parties.
In those vuzu parties, they will be drinking bronco, smoking weeds and doing all kinds of dirty stuff that leads to early unprepared sex, unprotected sex and hence, pregnancies and things like that. I have stood up today to say I think we need to pass a law which criminalises the parents first before the children. –[HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear]- It must be on record that if a parent is so negligent enough to give their children a lot of money, you are enabling them to do that. If a child comes out of your house wearing a daring mini-skirt, what are you thinking as the parent? Where did she get that mini-skirt from? It means that you bought that mini-skirt for her.
When things start happening out there, it is a chain reaction of what we have started as parents. As people who are supposed to be responsible for these kids, we are letting it all loose. So, Mr. Speaker Sir, the major reason why I stood up is to say that the parents must definitely be punished with long jail sentences because we are irresponsible. You find even the Christian parents, they wake up on a Sunday and they go to church. If you go to most churches, it is full of adults, there are no youths there. We the elders are the youths. You leave them at home sleeping, nursing mabhabharasi instead of taking them to church to hear the word of God. What do you expect, miracles? No miracles are going to take place. You are going to find early sex, child marriages and stuff like that. So, if we guard against that, I think that will be the turning point for this whole discussion.
I am going to end up with a simple quotation that came up in one of my group chats Mr. Speaker Sir. It says, “we need to let our girl children know that there are four main dresses that a woman must wear. The first one is a school uniform, the second one is the graduation gown, the third one is a wedding gown and the fourth one is a maternity dress.” If you skip the first one, you must know that definitely you are not going to wear the second one. Do not rush to wear the fourth one because a man has promised you the third one. If you remember, the fourth one is the maternity and the third is the wedding. So, if you are told that let me get you pregnant then I am going to marry you, the child must be taught that it is a no. Once we start implementing such things Mr. Speaker Sir, I think our nation will be healed, but let it start with us to be punished for being misguided, unruly and so irresponsible. I thank you.
HON. NDUNA: Thank you Mr. Speaker. I will not waste much of your time but I want to deal with the cure for this predicament that is currently before us. As I do, I need to thank the mover of the motion and I also need thank the children that hear Ruvimbo and Loveness, the other for the other, if the other is not here.
Mr. Speaker Sir, the reason why we are in this state of affairs, is because as Parliament or as a nation we are negating the Constitution. The Constitution is very clear. It speaks to empowerment because what we need to address is the issue of eradication of poverty which has been alluded to by my predecessors, all the speakers that spoke before me. They speak so eloquently, Mr. Speaker Sir. They wax lyrical when they come to that, about impoverishment; we need to eradicate that. How do we do it, by adhering to the Constitution. it is very clear.
I would want to start on section 19 and then go to Section 20 and Section 14, verbatim before I end. It speaks of children on Section 19 (1) and it goes on to say verbatim “The State must adopt policies and measures to ensure that in matters relating to children. The best interests of children concerned are paramount.” (2) The State must adopt reasonable policies and measures, within the limits of the resources available to it, to ensure that children – (a) enjoy family or parental care, or appropriate care when removed from the family environment; (b) have shelter and basic nutrition, health care and social services; (c) are protected from maltreatment, neglect or any form of abuse, and (d) have access to appropriate education and training. (3) The State must take appropriate legislative and other measures – (a) to protect children from exploitative labour practices, and (b) to ensure that children are not required or permitted to perform work or provide services that (i) are inappropriate for the children’s age; or (ii) place at risk the children’s well-being, education, physical or mental health or spiritual, moral or social development”.
Let me go on to Section 20, that in part is ultra vires what has been alluded to in term of age restriction which is 18 years. It speaks to youths being empowered and age 15 to 35 years verbatim I will go on to what it says. “The State and all institutions ….
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, Hon. Member can you pick those
issues that relate to early child marriages please.
HON. NDUNA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. The issue that I need to come out clearly is that when we speak of age 18 years, let it be across the board. There is no harm in us amending the Constitution to make the youths age come from 18 up to 35 years because as long as it is saying 15 years, we want to make sure that it is not ultra vires the age restriction in terms of marriage.
I will not belabour on the point. I will stick to exactly what you have asked me to speak to early child marriages. What is the cause? It is poverty. We need to make sure that we empower our children, youths according to the Constitution, those that are supposed to be empowered by the State and State organs so that our children are not married out early. As long as there is nothing in terms of food and nutrition in whole the first …
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, Hon. Member, I read to you the relevant Section 106, let us avoid repetition. What the Hon. Member is stating now was stated clearly by Hon. Chapfika. Can we have fresh ideas please?
HON. NDUNA: Thank you Mr. Speaker. I will go on to something that has not been touched on.
THE HON. SPEKAER: Exactly.
HON. NDUNA: The cure, Mr. Speaker Sir, as long as we do not have infrastructure development where children, their parents, their grandparents and great grandparents are still living in a dormitory like oriented situation, which quarters were meant for single people or men that come from the rural areas to come and work in town; which have been turned into family units where the children are living with their grandparents in one place, we will find ourselves having children that are tempted to get married at an early age because they watch their parents indulging in copulation, this is bound to encourage them to do the same. We need to indulge in infrastructure development. We need to repeal our laws so that they do not impede on using what we have got in terms of the resources that we have to get what we want so that our children can economically be empowered.
The Constitution and the laws of the land are very clear but what is missing is the harmonization. If you do not harmonise the other to relate to the other, what is now happening in the judicial system; because they see that now there is no way that they can incriminate the perpetrator of injustice using the harmonized laws they turn to what has been alluded to here the Criminal and Codification and let me say it verbatim – so that I do not miss – they turn to Criminal Codification Act and Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act. I will give you an example on how they turn to that. Where they cannot incriminate a girl child for exploiting their God given mineral resources, they will turn to a Section which calls for criminal trespassing which is in the Bible for all prosecutors and judges. This is trying to go away from the laws that have been harmonized, it is criminal to turn to a law that is archaic, historic and moribund-which is fraught of legacy oriented machinations. This is what causes early child marriage because of poverty. I would want to
end it there and want to thank you for this time that you have given to me. I thank you.
HON. SAMUKANGE: I had raised a point of order Mr. Speaker. I think Hon. Nduna is referring to non-existing laws and claims that there are actual laws. For example, he is talking about the Criminal Trespassing, there is nothing like that?
THE HON. SPEAKER: I hope the Hon. Member will stand
HON. NDUNA: Mr. Speaker, in all due respect I respect his office, there is what is termed Criminal Trespassing. I encounter this every time in Chegutu, when they are trying to pursue or incriminate artisanal miners, in other words when they have not been able to catch him on prospecting.
THE HON. SPEAKER: The Hon. Member should stand guided,
there is no such a law. Thank you.
HON. BHEBHE: Thank you very much Mr. Speaker for giving
me this opportunity to debate on this very important motion. I want to thank the mover of this motion, Hon. Misihairabwi-Mushonga and the seconder, Hon. Majome. At the same time I want to thank the very brave two girls. I would want to call them girls because they are still girls and they will remain girls until they are properly mature to be married.
Whilst we debate, we need to embark on research, particularly for our cultural beliefs that have been abused in the name of early marriages. I just want to give an example Mr. Speaker; I come from a family where I was told that my fore-grandmother was one of those people that were offered to be married to the husband of her sister. With research it is very clear that when that was happening then, there was no abuse but now, because of lack of respect of our own laws - which is what is prevailing right now, we find people hiding behind cultural beliefs to have early marriages. I want to urge this House to embark on
a thorough research so that we are able to come up with laws that are going to disabuse the issue of child marriages.
I do not think it is fair for us to keep on calling these issues as issues of child marriages. It is basically the issues of Statutory Rape disguised as child marriage – [HON MEMBERS: Hear, hear] - I want to disabuse the fact that poverty is part of the reason why we are seeing child marriages. It is not poverty but greediness, once you grow up and become a parent who is greedy, when you look at your daughter; you tend not to look at her as your daughter but as a money spinning venture. We tend to have a situation where parents hide behind poverty just because they are greedy. You go to beer drinking and see baba nhingi wearing a new suit because of his child who got married, you then envy that suit, the next thing when you look at your daughter, you always think of baba nhingi’s suit, and then you begin start thinking of selling your own child.
I think what we can do Mr. Speaker, is beyond just creating laws because my belief is that we have seen a lot of laws that are being broken in this country. We can create laws but if we have not cultivated a culture of people to love themselves first, we will still have a problem. A person that does not love himself will never love an offspring of his own because he does not believe in himself. We need to cultivate a culture of self belief as a nation, once we believe in ourselves as a nation; we should be able to make sure that we are able to deal with some of these issues.
If you look at our own Constitution, it has got a cutoff point of when a person is said to be mature enough to be married but people are going ahead and breaking their own Constitution. You go to court or to the police, the police will just get there and say, ‘what happened?’ The child would have been coached by parents and other collogues to say you cannot let him go to jail, tell the court that we were in love. The same court will let that same person scot free. If you also go to a traditional leader, the same thing happens, once there is a declaration that there is love between the two people, it is easier to cover crime.
However, it has to be ourselves as a country that there are certain things that we should know are morally right and there are certain things that are abnormal. Once we cultivate a culture of self belief as a nation, we will not have to come here to debate, to make laws that are obvious. It is obvious that marrying an under aged person is criminal. If you go to first world countries Mr. Speaker, it is not spoken about or it is virtually a fraction of their population that talks about child marriages. They openly talk about those issues as a nation; they just do not sit down and come up with laws. They cultivate a culture of self belief and once we do so and start recognising our own cultures in a normal way, we will not have this problem. For example, scientists are currently busy researching about how they can deal with the issue of global warming. They are actually researching on traditional ways of how it used to be managed some thousand years ago. They want to understand how they will deal with that kind of a problem that we have as a global community. We have to apply the same methods of actually researching and finding out how it was done before and how we can use those to come up with laws that will prevent the so called child marriage. I think it is just a disguise but it is actually Statutory Rape.
THE ACTING PRESIDENT AND MINISTER OF JUSTICE,
LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON.
MNANGAGWA): I move that the debate do now adjourn.
Motion put and agreed.
Debate to resume: Wednesday, 9th March 2016.
On the motion of THE ACTING PRESIDENT AND
MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY
AFFAIRS (HON. MNANGAGWA), the House adjourned at Six
Minutes to Six o’clock p.m.