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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 30 MAY 2024 VOL 50 NO 57

PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Thursday, 30th May, 2024.

The National Assembly met at a Quarter-past Two o’clock p.m.

PRAYERS

(THE HON. SPEAKER in the Chair)

THE HON. SPEAKER:  I have requests from two Members to make statements on points of national importance.  The first one is Hon. Bajila.

HON. BAJILA:  Good afternoon Mr. Speaker Sir.

THE HON. SPEAKER:  Good afternoon.

HON. BAJILA:  Thank you so much for granting me this opportunity to make a point of national interest.  My point arises from numerous responses that we got from Government Ministers, this last Wednesday.

Yesterday we had the Minister of Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture, Hon. Coventry commenting that they are interested in making upgrades on the National Sports Stadium, but there has been no disbursement of funds in that regard. We also had Hon. Deputy Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development, Hon. Sacco making similar comments. …

THE HON. SPEAKER:   Order, Hon. Member, if you had issues that arose from the statements made by the Hon. Ministers, you were supposed to have asked supplementary questions.

HON. BAJILA:  Thank you Mr. Speaker, the issues do not relate to the …

THE HON. SPEAKER:   You are quoting the responses of Ministers during Question Time, that is the context in which I am advising you.

HON. BAJILA:    Okay, thank you.

THE HON. SPEAKER:   Thank you. Please switch off your mic.

HON. TSVANGIRAI:   Thank you very much Hon. Speaker for giving me this opportunity to raise a point of national interest.  My point of national interest relates to the increase in the cost of living due to the shortages of change.   Firstly, Mr. Speaker, transport costs have increased…

THE HON. SPEAKER:  Just a moment.  Did you say shortages of what?

HON. TSVANGIRAI:  Change.

THE HON. SPEAKER:  Shortage of change? 

HON. TSVANGIRAI:  Yes, Hon. Speaker. 

THE HON. SPEAKER:  What type of change?  Can you be more specific? 

HON. TSVANGIRAI: The availability of ZiG in smaller denominations. 

THE HON. SPEAKER:  Proceed.

HON. TSVANGIRAI:  Firstly Mr. Speaker, transport costs have increased.  For example, prior to the pronouncement of the Monitory Policy Statement of 5th April, 2024, in my constituency Hon. Speaker, it used to cost 50 cents to travel from Katanga to Govans or from Katanga to Offsale, a distance of less than five kilometers. Now, due to shortages of change, commuter omnibus operators are now charging USD1.00.  Mr. Speaker, that is an increase of 100%. For some of us who come from low income areas Mr. Speaker, that is a massive increase; and for those that travel from Norton to Harare on daily basis. They now require USD4 instead of USD3 per day, vis-à-vis with the money that the majority of residents earn, it is not sustainable.

Secondly, allow me to remind you that the World Bank ranked Zimbabwe No. 1 in terms of food…

THE HON. SPEAKER: You want to remind me or the nation? You are talking of national interest. Why do you remind me?

HON. TSVANGIRAI: Mr. Speaker Sir, allow me to remind this House and the nation at large that the World Bank ranked Zimbabwe No. 1, in terms of inflation and shortage of change has exacerbated food inflation. For example, a 2kg packet of rice used to cost USD2.50, but now consumers are buying it for USD3. In accordance with that, at Speed Market in Norton, vegetables used to cost only half of a dollar prior to the introduction of ZiG currency but now consumers are buying them for USD2. The situation is even more horrible for pensioners who have a monthly income that is not enough to cover human basic needs. This is contrary to what the monetary policy aimed to achieve.

THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, I thought you meant trust of your issue of national interest is shortage of smaller denominations for change. How does that refer to inflation? There is no relevance, unfortunately.

HON. TSVANGIRAI: May I please continue Mr. Speaker Sir?

THE HON. SPEAKER: No, you cannot because you are talking of inflation. These cost so much and now, what has that to do with the shortage of change?

HON. TSVANGIRAI: Hon. Speaker, the shortage of change is due to people not having enough change…

THE HON. SPEAKER: And it is increasing the cost of living?

HON. TSVANGIRAI: Yes.

THE HON. SPEAKER: No, I think if you want clarification on these issues, ask a written question and let the responsible Minister deal with the matter in detail.

HON. TSVANGIRAI: Hon. Speaker, that is where I was going.

THE HON. SPEAKER: Thank you.

ANNOUNCEMENTS BY THE HON. SPEAKER

APPOINTMENT TO COMMITEES

THE HON. SPEAKER: I have the following announcements. I have to inform the House that in terms of Standing Order No. 19 (3), the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders has appointed the following to the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders Committee, Chairpersons, Delegates to the Women’s Caucus and International Parliamentary Statutory Bodies from the CCC Party; Hon. J. Makombe goes to Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care; Hon. V. Sihlabo, Portfolio Committee on Energy and Power Development, Hon. V. Moyo, Portfolio Committee on Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services, Hon. Hwende, Public Accounts Committee; Hon, C. Matewu, Portfolio Committee on Media, Publicity and Broadcasting Services; Hon. M. N. Gumede, Portfolio Committee on Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation Science and Technology Development; Hon. J. Mamombe, Portfolio Committee on Environment Climate, Wildlife and Tourism; Hon. Gumbo and Hon. Sen. K. I. Phulu to serve on the Parliamentary Legal Committee. 

I also wish to inform the House of the following changes in the leadership deployment of CCC Party members in Parliament. Hon. Karenyi…

HON. HWENDE: On a point of order Mr. Speaker Sir.

THE HON. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.  I am making the announcement.

HON. HWENDE: But why? 

THE HON. SPEAKER: Can you sit down!

HON. HWENDE: The CCC has…

THE HON. SPEAKER: Can you sit down!

HON. HWENDE: No, no, but you cannot say that there was a meeting of CCC.  CCC never met…

THE HON. SPEAKER: Can you please sit down! I will repeat Hon. Karenyi-Kore, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, Hon. S. Tshabangu, Leader of the Opposition in Senate and overall leader of the Opposition in Parliament. – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.]- Hon. Sen. Mlotshwa, Chief Whip in the Senate; Hon. Sen. S. Zvidzai, Deputy Chief Whip in the Senate; Hon. E. Mushoriwa, Chief Whip in the National Assembly; Hon. B. Nyandoro, Deputy Chief Whip, National Assembly; Hon. S. Mahlangu and Hon. Sen. K. Phulu, to be members of the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders Committee; Hon. O. Sibanda, Deputy Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Women’s Parliamentary Caucus; Hon. Chinanzvavana, Organiser for the Zimbabwe Women’s Parliamentary Caucus; Hon. J. Makuvire, Member of the Executive Committee in the Zimbabwe Women’s  Parliamentary Caucus Executive; Hon. S. Matsunga, Member of the Africa Parliamentary Union Delegation; Hon. S. Tshabangu and Hon. M. Kademaunga, Members of the Inter-Parliamentary Union Delegation; Hon. N. Mlotshwa, Member of the ACPSES-EU Delegation; Hon. H. Chidziva, Member of the Pan-African Parliament Delegation; Hon. Karenyi-Kore, Member of the SADC PF Delegation and Hon. M. Ngwenya, Member of the ACCSCA Delegation.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

HON. TOGAREPI: I move that Orders of the Day Numbers 1 to 20 on today’s Order Paper be stood over until Order of the Day Number 21 has been disposed of.

          HON. KARIKOGA: I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

APPROVAL FOR RATIFICATION OF THE AGREEMENT ON MUTUAL LEGAL ASSISTANCE IN CRIMINAL MATTERS BETWEEN THE REPUBLIC OF ZIMBABWE AND REPUBLIC OF RWANDA

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. Z. ZIYAMBI): I move the motion standing in my name that:  

WHEREAS Section 327 (2) (a) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe provides that any convention, treaty or agreement acceded to, concluded or executed by or under the authority of the President with one or more foreign States of governments or international organisations shall be subject to approval by Parliament;

 WHEREAS the Republic of Zimbabwe and the Republic of Rwanda signed an agreement establishing Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters on 19 March 2021 at Harare, Zimbabwe, WHEREAS the Republic of Zimbabwe is desirous of ratifying the Agreement on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters,

AND WHEREAS in terms of Article 26 of the Agreement, the entry into force of the aforesaid agreement shall be upon 30 days after the date on which the Parties have notified each other in writing that their respective constitutional requirements for entry into force of the Agreement have been complied with.

 NOW THEREFORE, in terms of Section 327 (2) (a) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, this House resolves that the aforesaid Agreement be and is hereby approved for ratification.

Motion put and agreed to.

HON. KARENYI: On a point of order!

THE HON. SPEAKER: On the ratification?

HON. KARENYI: No, on the previous announcement.

THE HON. SPEAKER: That has been overtaken by time.

HON. KARENYI: Maybe if you allow me so that you hear my point of order.

THE HON. SPEAKER: I cannot because it becomes procedural.

HON. KARENYI: Mr. Speaker, I think there is a mistake so maybe we can correct it before we leave the House.

THE HON. SPEAKER: No. Any corrections, if any, they can be done administratively if it is a spelling mistake or something like that.

HON. KARENYI: Please Mr. Speaker, can you hear me out?

THE HON. SPEAKER: No, I cannot.  You are not being procedural.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. Z. ZIYAMBI): I move that Order of the Day, Number 22 on today’s Order Paper be stood over until Order of the Day Number 23 has been disposed of.

Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

ABOLITION OF DEATH PENALTY BILL [H. B. 5, 2023]

Twenty Third order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the Second Reading of the Abolition of Death Penalty Bill [H.B. 5, 2023].        Question again proposed.

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. Z. ZIYAMBI):  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  I want to thank you and to thank the Hon. Members for the debate that ensued the last time where Hon. Mushoriwa delivered his second reading speech and thereafter. I made a request that going forward, because of issues in the Bill that require the Executive to exercise its minded authority, I will be leading the Bill going forward.  In that regard, allow me to deliver my second reading speech to the Bill.

Mr. Speaker Sir, it is always a solemn occasion when you assemble to do the people’s business, but on this occasion, when a Bill is before you to abolish the death penalty, the gravity of your deliberations is heavier than usual.  We are called individually and collectively to examine our consciences and weigh a matter that touches on the right to life of human beings. Not of this or that human being, but of a class of human beings whose crimes are of such a heinousness such that hitherto, our society has seen it fit to legislate that they must die if found guilty by a court of law.

Almost all cultures in the past, and of course even now, have marked out certain crimes to be deserving of the supreme penalty, but it must be said that our indigenous culture has been less culpable and more merciful than many foreign cultures in this respect.  As deserving of death as some human beings may seem to be to you and me, yet we must still react with revulsion at some of the methods of execution we hear about.  Some of them carried out in the very countries that take it upon themselves to lecture to us and to others about human rights. Imagine executing a human being by the use of a method that is used on farms to euthanise pigs for human consumption.  Yet such a method of execution has been legislated or practiced in two states of the United States that I am aware of. 

In 2015, the State of Oklahoma passed a law to allow nitrogen gas poisoning or nitrogen-induced hypoxia as a method of execution following difficulties in obtaining the drugs necessary for lethal injection.  In January this year, Alabama, a US State with 165 people on death row, carried out the first ever execution by nitrogen hypoxia.  The convict in question was killed through an experimental technique that pumps pure nitrogen gas into a person’s lungs instead of the regular air that has the oxygen humans need to breathe.

Not long before this, in 2020, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) issued Guidelines for the euthanasian of animals, in which it recommended giving animals including pigs, a sedative before they are euthanised by means of nitrogen hypoxia.  The Alabama authorities did not even follow this recommendation when it smothered the awake and alert convict with nitrogen and they still have 165 prisoners left to execute.

Mr. Speaker Sir, I am not here to advocate for mercy for murderers, child rapists and terrorist on death row. I am here to plead with you in the name of humanity that they can be punished harshly in ways that do not stain our dignity as human beings.  When it comes down to it, there is truly no such thing as a humane way of killing human beings.  We are not exercising our best human capacities when we are arguing whether animal euthanasia or hanging is a more humane method of executing people.  It is better to abolish that debate by abolishing the death penalty in my view.

I will not rehearse to you in detail all the grounds commonly put forward for the abolition of the death penalty.  Suffice it for me to list some of these grounds as follows;

  1. It is inhumane: I do not want to judge other countries that apply the death penalty, but I ask you Hon, Members, to recall, when did we last execute anyone?  Can anyone even remember?  Many of us advocate for the death penalty, but I assure you there is hardly a person in our country who would seek a job as a professional executioner, however high the reward. Hapana anoda kuita hangman kuti unomuka uchienda kubasa woudza vana kuti ndichambonouraya vanhu.
  2. It inflicts psychological torment, not only on the person to be executed, but often even on the people involved somehow with the execution. The last time on Tuesday, I gave an account of what His Excellency, our President, Dr. Mnangagwa said that upon execution of the comrades who were on death row, they were given a wheelbarrow with their comrade and told to bury him and then plant a lawn, irrigate it so that it could grow. Imagine the psychological trauma that they went through and this is the reason why we are saying, why do we need as a nation such an inhumane treatment to others.
  3. It is an open question whether the death penalty actually deters crimes. We have had the death penalty for a long time and nobody would say that since we have had the death penalty on our statute books, we have reduced the number of people who commit murder in aggravating circumstances or terrorists. It does not deter. It is actually a question that is debatable.
  4. It does not address the root cause of crime and it is biased against people experiencing poverty. History will tell you that the majority of people that have been executed are those in a struggle or in poverty. So, it is biased against those that society must protect.
  5. Even in our country, the death penalty has a racial bias. When was a white person last executed in our country? If I am not mistaken, the last white person actually sentenced to death and awaiting imminent execution, cheated the hangman by committing suicide in death row in 1978.
  6. Lastly, let us not forget that the death penalty is irreversible. Our police, prosecutors, judges and witnesses are human beings who make mistakes.  Once someone has been executed and when you realise there was a mistake, you cannot restore that life back. How would they feel if evidence later revealed that a hanged person had been framed by an enemy?  It does not happen often, but if it does, we cannot bring the innocent back to life.

Mr. Speaker Sir, I commend the original mover of the Bill to abolish the death penalty.  I must criticise them on the thoughtless way they have gone about it.  Our people may be prepared to contemplate the abolition of the death penalty but they will not tolerate that measure unless the courts are compelled to treat certain kinds of murder committed under aggravating circumstances more harshly than other kinds of murder.  To that end, I move certain amendments to that measure to provide for mandatory prison sentences of up to life imprisonment where the murder was committed in aggravating circumstances such as the following:

Murder resulting from any act of insurgency, banditry, sabotage or terrorism;

Murder resulting from the rape or other sexual assault of the victim; 

Murder resulting from kidnapping or illegal detention, robbery, hijacking, piracy or escaping from lawful custody; 

Murder resulting from unlawful entry into a dwelling house or malicious damaged property -

If the property in question was a dwelling house and the damage was effected by the use of fire or explosives;

Murder that forms part of the sequence of the two or more murders committed by the same accused during the same episode over any period of time; or

Murder that was preceded or accompanied by physical torture or mutilation inflicted by the accused on the victim;

Murder of a victim in a public place or in an aircraft, public passenger transport vehicle or vessel, railway, car, other public conveyance by the use of means (such as fire, explosives or the indiscriminate firing of a weapon) that are caused or involved a substantial risk of serious injury to by-stander;  

Murder that is premediated;

The murder of a police officer or prison officer or of a minor or of a pregnant woman or of a person of seven years or more or of a physically disabled person.

In conclusion Mr. Speaker Sir, let me emphasise a point I made earlier, namely that while our people may, in principle, favour the death penalty for extreme crimes, in practice, they are hesitant to see it carried out as shown by the fact that we have more than 60 prisoners in death row as we speak and some of them have been waiting for years to be executed.

Let me add that some of them are under sentence of death for crimes that are less serious than those of other prisoners who have been sentenced to imprisonment instead of death.  Our judges are human, so  even when they find that a crime has been committed in aggravating circumstances, they prefer to sentence the offender to 20 years or life instead of death.  With the leave of the Hon. Members, I now move that the Bill be read a second time.

          HON. DR. MUTODI: I rise to present a report from the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs on the Death Abolition Bill [H.B. 5, 2023].

Introduction

          The Constitution of Zimbabwe, under Section 141, imposes a duty upon the Parliament to actively engage the general public during its legislative processes and ensure that all interested stakeholders are consulted on Bills under consideration for enactment into law. In fulfillment of this constitutional obligation, the Parliament of Zimbabwe, through the Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs in conjunction with the Thematic Committee on Human Rights, conducted public consultations from the 6th to the 11th of May 2024 to solicit the views of the citizenry on the proposed Death Penalty Abolition Bill. This Bill, which was gazetted on the 14th of December 2023, seeks to abolish death penalty by amending the existing statutes that provide for the imposition of death penalty.

Background

The death penalty is a complex legal process that involves the lawful execution of an individual as punishment for a crime. It requires careful consideration of evidence, mitigating factors, and legal standards to ensure fairness and justice. Ethical and moral deliberations also shape public discourse on the issue. In Zimbabwe, the death penalty has been a longstanding and divisive issue. While enshrined in the Constitution, it has not been carried out since 2004, and a de facto moratorium has been in place since then. Public opinion remains divided, with some advocating for its retention as a deterrent and others arguing for its abolishment on human rights grounds.

In 2020, a Private Member's Bill titled the "Death Penalty (Abolition) Bill" was introduced in the Zimbabwean Parliament. This Bill seeks to abolish the death penalty and replace it with life imprisonment, reflecting a growing momentum towards re-evaluating the use of capital punishment and aligning the country's legal framework with evolving international norms and human rights standards.

 Methodology

The Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, in collaboration with the Thematic Committee on Human Rights, conducted a comprehensive public consultation process on the proposed Death Penalty Abolition Bill. The Committee was divided into two teams, with Team A covering Mashonaland West, Midlands, Bulawayo, Matebeleland North, and Matebeleland South, and Team B covered Mashonaland Central, Harare, Mashonaland East, Manicaland, and Masvingo. The consultations involved focused group discussions across 10 venues in the country's 10 provinces, as well as the receipt of written submissions from various stakeholders. This multi-pronged approach ensured that the views and perspectives of the general public were thoroughly captured, in line with the constitutional obligation to engage the citizenry in the legislative process.

Overview of the Consultations

The comprehensive public consultation process conducted by the Portfolio Committee and Thematic Committee reached a total of 866 participants. The demographic breakdown consisted of 56.1% men, 44.4% women, and 1.8% persons living with disabilities. While the turn-out was relatively low in some areas, potentially due to the public's reluctance to participate in such consultations, the Committee nonetheless managed to gather valuable and insightful contributions. These submissions were carefully considered and deliberated upon by the Committee in the development of their comprehensive report.

Public Submissions

The public consultation process undertaken by the Portfolio Committee and Thematic Committee was widely commended, with the citizenry applauding Parliament's proactive approach in soliciting community perspectives on the proposed legislative amendments. The public hearings elicited a broad spectrum of views, with a general consensus emerging that the Bill should align the country's legal framework with prevailing international human rights standards.

Majority of the public in support of the Bill submitted that the principle behind the Bill is noble and just, considering factors such as the vacancy of the Executioner for more than 20 years, and the world view that the threat of the death penalty does not cause any noticeable reduction in capital crimes. It was their opinion that a combination of penal and restorative justice would do recommendable.

In addition to this, it was further submitted that the President of Zimbabwe, His Excellency Dr. E.D. Mnangagwa, has strongly opposed the death penalty for many years stating that it is a flagrant violation of the right to life and dignity. Therefore, it was their opinion that measures should be taken to abolish the death penalty and replace it with alternative sentences like life imprisonment with hard labour. The public also urged Government to abolish the death penalty, saying it is not our culture but a relic of the colonial era. It was their opinion that in our Zimbabwean culture, killing is not an acceptable form of punishment hence compensation is used when a person is killed (kuripa ngozi). Furthermore, the death penalty has no established deterrent effect and it makes judicial errors irreversible.

It was also submitted that most people who are sentenced to death in murder cases comes from poor and under-privileged backgrounds, hence they cannot afford the best lawyers to represent them and often rely on legal aid provided by the Sstate. 

Moreover, majority of the men who attended the hearings averred that the application of the death penalty is discriminatory in nature. It was their opinion that gender is certainly a factor in determining whether or not a person convicted of murder will be sentenced to death. They further submitted that section 48 of the Constitution states that only men between the ages of 21 and 70 can be sentenced to death. Therefore, no women can be sentenced to death, hence there is need to abolish capital punishment so as to maintain the gender balance mantra. However, members of the public who were against abolishment of death penalty stated that statistics have shown that in countries where the death penalty is not in force; murder, rape, terrorism, drug abuse and violent crimes are very common because the punishment for such crimes is not deterrent enough. They added that many convicts get out of prison on parole and amnesty then goes on to commit the same crime again. They further averred that the absence of a hangman is not an enough reason to abolish the capital punishment.

Committee Observations

The Committee observed the following:

  1. The majority of the public were in support of the abolishment of the death penalty
  2.  Some members of the public cited the United States of America as a jurisdiction still applying the death sentence.  However, the Committee observed that not all States in the United States of America apply this sentence on offenders.

       Committee Recommendations

The Committee, therefore, recommends the following:

  • that the death penalty be abolished from all Acts of Parliament,

including the Defence Act which the minister did not address in his address on the death penalty.  We also needed the Hon. Minister to address how he was going to tackle provisions in the Defence Act.

  • That the death penalty be replaced by the imposition of long jail

sentences or life imprisonment with hard labour and without an option for parole.  The Hon. Minister was advocating for 20 years in some cases and so on but as a Committee, we recommend that murder under aggravating circumstances, which was suitable for a death penalty or capital punishment be given life imprisonment without an option for parole.

  • That those on the death row be resentenced to life

imprisonment. 

          However, it is my personal view Hon. Speaker Sir, that Section 48 of the Constitution still needs to be amended.  Mr. Speaker, Section 48 of the Constitution talks about the Right to Life and provides that capital punishment maybe imposed for stated crimes that is made under aggravated circumstances and may not be applied to women and adults above the age of 17.                   

          So it still means that the law that we are talking about and saying is discriminatory still exists in our Constitution.  We have already spoken about the reason why the death sentence needs to be removed from our law; it is not possible to subject an individual to death without taking them through torture, inhuman and degrading treatment.  We also considered the pre-colonial and colonial historical connotations associated with the application of the death sentence or capital punishment, which warrants us to completely remove the death sentence from our Constitution.

          Mr. Speaker Sir, after this amendment to the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act and the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act as advocated for by the Private Members’ Bill, it means we are going to remove the death sentence from the provisions of those Acts.  Can we call ourselves a country without a death sentence when our Constitution still permits that a law be made?  The Hon. Minister stated it very clearly that the Constitution makes it an option.  So my question would be; will Zimbabwe be classified as a country without a death sentence after this amendment to the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act and the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act would have been effected?

          What it means Mr. Speaker Sir, is that the next Parliament after us can still revive the death sentence, hence the need for the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to promise this House that he will, during the course of the 10th Parliament, bring a Constitutional Amendment Bill to completely expunge capital punishment from our Constitution – that was my personal note to the Committee. 

Conclusion

While the minority voiced dissenting views predicated on the principle of "an eye for an eye," the general consensus appears to be one of cautious optimism. The Bill's provisions, when scrutinised through the lens of international human rights norms and Zimbabwe's own constitutional commitments to rehabilitative and restorative criminal justice reform, demonstrate a concerted effort to realign the penal system with more progressive and humanistic approaches. The legislation's emphasis on rehabilitation, reintegration, and the preservation of human dignity resonates with the public's desire for a criminal justice system that is both just and compassionate. By eschewing a myopic focus on retribution, the Bill signals Zimbabwe's commitment to addressing the root causes of criminal behaviour and empowering offenders to become productive members of society.

HON. KANGAUSARU: Thank you Hon. Speaker Sir, for allowing me to add my voice as a pastor and as a servant of God in Parliament of Zimbabwe. Death sentence is in violation of the right to life and it is absolutely cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment and barbaric.  Deuteronomy 20:13 says, ‘Thou shall not kill’. It is clear from the biblical point of view that God does not want us to kill. Even Cain himself when he killed, God put a mark.  He said, ‘I am a vagabond and whoever shall find me, he shall kill me’ and God said, ‘No, nobody shall kill you, whoever shall kill you shall have seven times punishment’.  God then put a mark upon Cain that whoever finds him should not kill him because God does not want to kill.

The Cabinet has approved the abolishment of death penalty, a decision that has been welcome by human rights advocates including myself and if we look at our President, His Excellency Dr. E. D. Mnangagwa who was once sentenced to death himself has been a vocal critic of capital punishment.  Even the United Nations has called for the global abolishment of the death sentence and 170 countries have done so, and I pray that we may be among them.  Yes, of course, we can talk of others that oppose the death sentence.  They say that the death sentence serves as deterrent for serious imprisonment and that life imprisonment is not sufficient punishment for heinous crimes such as murder and ritual murders.

The rise in crime rates in Zimbabwe suggest that the death penalty is necessary to maintain law and order.  That is the opinion that other people are giving.  The death penalty provides closure and justice for the family of the victim.  Mr. Speaker Sir, let me consider the moral implication of the death penalty.  Taking of a human life by the State is a grave irreversible act.  It goes against the fundamental principles of respect for human dignity, which is enshrined in our Constitution.  The death penalty does not serve as a deterrent to crime and has been to be applied to marginalised and vulnerable groups. Section 48 of our Constitution of Zimbabwe protects the right to life, but allows a court to impose the death sentence in limited circumstances for aggravated murder.

This, on its own, is a confusion of the law at its best which gives room for loopholes because what constitutes as aggravated circumstances to someone may not be the same to the other person. Only men between 21 and 70 years can be sentenced to death, creating a gender discrimination, thus it becomes a problematic issue in this gender balance world.

Furthermore, no execution like our Hon. Minister has already alluded has occurred since 2005 hence, the need to abolish it and rather impose life sentences which the State can manage. The death penalty is prone to error because there is no system that has no justice and that is 100% perfect. Despite our best efforts, our justice system is not 100% and there has been cases where innocent individuals have been wrongly convicted. Once a person has been executed, there is no way to rectify such grave miscarriage of justice.

Moreover, death sentence is incompatible with the global trends as well as international law towards abolition. The majority of the countries around the world have either abolished the death penalty in law, or practicably contributing to the death penalty. Zimbabwe risks isolation of itself from the international community and undermining its commitment to human rights. It is important to consider the financial cost of death penalty. Maintaining death from inmates, conducting lengthy appeal processes and carrying out execution, are all costly endeavours.

These resources could be better allocated to improving our justice system, supporting victims of crime and addressing the root causes of criminal behaviour. Vision 2030 aims to create a society with high standard of living and social well-being. Abolition of death penalty aligns with the goal by upholding human rights and the inherent dignity of our people.

Furthermore, Vision 2030 seeks to modernise the justice system. Abolishing the death penalty could be seen as part of the reform by ensuring the justice system focuses on rehabilitation and reducing potential wrongful conviction. Vision 2030 aspires Zimbabwe to become an upper middle-income economy by 2030. Many developed nations do not have the death penalty. Abolishment could improve Zimbabwe’s standing on the world stage.

As I conclude, it is imperative to note that the death penalty abolition represent a progressive and human approach to justice. It is time for Zimbabwe to join the growing number of countries that have abolished death penalty and upholds the values of human justice and respect for human rights. I argue and urge my colleagues to support this Bill to abolish death penalty and to help build a more just compassionate society for all Zimbabweans. Thank you.

          *HON. ZEMURA: Thank you, Mr. Speaker Sir.  I stand to support what has been done by the Parliament and what it is planning to do in 2024 about the abolishment of the death sentence.  The issue regarding the abolition of the death sentence is that indeed, everyone is capable of committing a crime.  The death penalty in Zimbabwe should be removed.

 We saw this coming when there was no hangman.  So I want to appreciate the fact that we do not encourage death sentences even for those who commit abortion.  Abortion is a crime to God, killing is killing.  Murder is just murder, whether you have killed an old person or an infant who is killed and thrown into the bin like what some women are doing in Zimbabwe.  They must be arrested, they must get a life sentence, and they deserve to be incarcerated because they would have committed a crime.

          Human life is sacrosanct, the Bible says that no one has the right to kill, so no one should kill.  Even young girls and women should stop abortions.  When you see a woman who has been raped, there is no need to abort the child because the child did not plan that act. Even when it is a mistake, people would know that it is a mistake instead of killing someone who might grow up to do great exploits, although their mothers would have been raped. 

          For some of these things, you would find that God does not allow that, 50% of those who commit abortion will also die because God does not allow the killing of people.  I support this Bill.  Our country is a developing country that cannot practice abortions.  You find countries like America where murder is committed every day, and issues of lethal killing are broadcast on television.  People are executed in different ways using technology, which is why God the Almighty is dealing with such issues in those countries. 

Look at Zimbabwe, we have mountains full of rich minerals, America has mountains but with no minerals.  Zimbabwe is indeed blessed.  Let us remove laws that take away our blessings from God and negatively affect our performance as a nation. 

Even if the death sentence was preserved, you would find that there is no hangman and no one is interested in taking the job of a hangman in Zimbabwe.  In Zimbabwe, we have not heard of people applying for the job of a hangman, but in other countries there are hangmen. 

          If a person is executed, that person would not feel the pain because they would be dead and they would not come back to life, so it is not necessary to do that.  It is the law of God that people should die, so even without that law, people are still going to die naturally hence let us remove that law. I believe the Ministry of Justice, Legal, and Parliamentary Affairs will execute this Bill fast so that it sails through.  I thank you.

          *HON. P. ZHOU: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.  Let me support this issue, Hon. Speaker Sir.  I want to appreciate His Excellency because when this Bill went to the Executive, His Excellency did not accept the death sentence.  He experienced the pain of the death penalty when Mbuya Nehanda and Sekuru Kaguvi were executed.  We see the pictures and it also pains us, that is why we are saying that Zimbabwe suffered during the war of liberation and our people were killed.  Executing people is not good, it pains us. 

Again, this Bill is segmented stipulating that from 21 years to 70 years, these people could be killed. So because the law selected the young, people felt that it was not good.  Women also were not killed because looking at the law, you find that people are saying we do not want the execution, so we need to find alternative ways. Sometimes we might kill a breadwinner; whether it is the father or uncle, it is painful. 

          Let us talk about these things; churches should intervene, and they must teach people that the death penalty is not a deterrent indeed. This is true because the law was there but still people would continue killing despite the law.  It is important to have alternative forms of punishment, some should be punitive enough.  For example in Zhombe, a teacher was killed in cold blood and mutilated, and the face was harmed.  You ask the question of who kills people because in our culture, we fear the avenging spirit, that is Ngozi.  God is the one who created people and He should take the life of a person when the time is ripe.  I thank you.

          +HON. R. MPOFU: First, let me thank you Mr. Speaker for the opportunity that you have given me to add my voice on the death penalty debate. I would like to thank His Excellency on the way he saw it fit that in this country, we should abolish the death penalty.

          How many more people should we count that should be murdered? Many people in Zimbabwe were killed during the struggle by the British. There is an Hon. Member who gave the example of Mbuya Nehanda or Sekuru Kaguvi. Who can hang a woman or man who is old? I would like to thank the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, if Zimbabwe can still continue with this law that people should be killed as what happened during the liberation struggle; we know Smith killed many Zimbabweans, but there was no such law that Ian Douglas Smith should be killed. He died peacefully and that is why I say the spirits of Zimbabwe should not agree because Zimbabwe has its own culture and laws.

Even our chiefs cannot allow this law for people to be killed. A person should be apprehended, incarcerated and sentenced. If a person commits a grievous act, they should be sentenced to life in prison. Even church leaders cannot allow a person to be sentenced to death. The Lord is the one who has the life of a person in His hands. The Holy Spirit would intervene for a person. Some of the people who kill themselves are afraid of killing someone else. Would someone kill a disabled person just because they are ashamed of them? With these few words, this law should be abolished.

*HON. MUNEMO: I want to appreciate the issue that has been raised regarding the abolishment of the death penalty and I want to add a few words. Firstly, I want to thank His Excellency, President E.D Mnangagwa for giving us details of what happened during the liberation war and how he survived death. That only shows that indeed, His Excellency does not want to hear about the death sentence also. If it was someone else, he might not share that and this informs even future developments.

There is an Hon. Member who spoke well about the abortion done by women. In Mt Darwin, there is a case which happened where a woman dumped her baby in a blair toilet but after one day, the toilet was then destroyed and the child was pulled out of the toilet. The child survived, grew up and came to know what had happened when he was still a baby that he was dumped in a blair toilet. The relationship between the mother and the child is not good. So the issue of abortion is a bad thing and damages relationships affecting families where you find people not valuing ethos and values as black people.

There is a penalty which used to happen before Christ, of revenging an eye for an eye, where those who would have stabbed someone with a spear were supposed to be punished the same way. It is not good to take that approach as people and that is why when Christ came, he said that if the first law was powerful, then why not the second testament?  This meant that there were faults in the first testament which affected even human values. We thank the coming in of Jesus Christ who said we must not kill.

Hon. Speaker, the desire for someone to die is not right because it is like killing. There are some who say when someone has hurt them; they desire that the other person should die. This is not right. We see wild animals fighting and then showing love, embracing each other. This shows love but for people, it is not right to desire that the other person should die. There is an issue which I want to talk about that you find someone would have stolen from a house, say a pick or wheelbarrow. The person who would have lost their valuables avenges using juju which kills the thief. Let us remove the thoughts of killing. Our hearts should desire not to kill a living human being.

I want to say this about traditional healers and even to the modern doctors, you find some saying you can legally abort or try to abort using modern means, this is not right. Some say the issue of whether a person should be killed or not should be said in courts only, but we must talk about it in churches and different leisure points. My issue is that we need to look at our lifestyles, what we desire and the point that everyone wishes to have quality life because we only live once. When God rules, then that is it.

As we speak, there are some who are on the death row in other countries and after that, you find that the person died in vain because eventually, they are acquitted but posthumously. For example, when we look at the Libyan leader, you find people discussing on social media that he was a great man who did many developmental projects in Libya, but he was executed. He was shot and many families are regretting his death because they know he was going to develop the country. These are touching issues. I do not have much to say, but we must desire not to kill and teach our children that it is not good to kill. I thank you.

          +HON. S. SITHOLE: Thank you Hon. Speaker for giving me the opportunity to add my voice to this important motion.  I speak as a person who lost a child in 2008.  I only attended once at the Magistrate Court for that matter.  I made a follow up on that matter as a person who worships and praises God.  I want to support the President of Zimbabwe that it is not our right to kill a person.  It is in the Lord’s hands. I would like also to thank the Minister of Justice for his expounding this law so that the Lord give him all the knowledge. 

          Hon. Speaker, the reason why these other people do such acts, I will explain a bit in Shona.  Some say nhova on the sculp, I want everybody to get this – that is why this death penalty is being abolished.  It is not mending the fontanelle when the child is very young. Those are the spirits that get into the child when the child is very young.  That is why we should take note that praying and worshipping is very important.  Some of the people die for things which they do not know.  The white people are the ones who enacted these laws during the war times to massacre those people who were ruling during those times.  That is why I think that as the country of Zimbabwe, that it is not right for somebody to be killed after he has murdered someone.  We will say this so many times but the Lord said that the life of a person is in his hands.  We do not have power over the life of a person.  The Lord is the one who have sovereign power over a person’s life.  I think that Hon. Speaker, you are speaking to a person who is affected and has knowledge, someone who lost his two children in 2008.  I did not take it to heart into accounting that because I left it into the Lord’s hands up to this day.

I thank the Minister for bringing in this Bill before this august House and we are in full support of that prison term and life prison. The person should be incarcerated for a prison term and the person’s life should be left into the Lord’s hands.  I would like to thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.

          +HON. M. NKOMO: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir for giving me the opportunity to add my voice on this Bill.  We have learnt so much as a Committee.  We moved around the country from the northern and southern parts of the country.  Some of the members of the public were in full support of this sensitive Bill.  That is why we have come to this august House to debate on this Bill.  We would like to thank the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe for supporting this Bill that this sentence should be abolished, and killing is not human because he passed through that stage hence, he saw it fit that killing is not for a human being.  We just leave it into the Lord’s hands. 

          In the Bible, it says that the person who has killed should also be killed but when Christ came, he said that the person should not be killed.  Some of the things that we take note of is that some people are killed for something that they would not have done.  The person will have passed through an incident but they will be incarcerated for something they would not have done.  The beautiful thing now is that if a person is apprehended, he is incarcerated in prison. You will be given a life sentence until their life is taken by the Lord because if a person is released, is out of custody and is in public, that would not be proper.  They will not handle the matter well.  That is why we say the person who has murdered somebody should face a prison life sentence. That is why as Zimbabweans, we have not yet had some people who have been incarcerated for not having committed a crime.  I thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. 

          *HON. SAMSON:  Thank you for giving me this opportunity to add my voice to this motion on the death sentence abolition.  Mr. Speaker Sir, firstly, I would like to thank His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa because he is a God-fearing man. He fears to go against God’s will, that is why he supported this motion that a person who has committed a crime should not be murdered or killed.

          Mr. Speaker Sir, this matter of killing a person is a scary matter. In some homes, a man is even scared of slaughtering a chicken because he feels the pain of killing.  What more if it is a matter of killing a person?   Even the word of God says that we should not avenge those who have wronged us, if somebody has wronged you, you should not look for somebody to murder that person. We should maintain the spirit of saying, ‘the Lord is the one who knows how to avenge, it is in the hands of the Lord’. 

          There is some Hon. Member who spoke about the issue of terminating pregnancy - that is equally killing.  It does not matter whether the pregnancy is terminated at an early stage, because eventually a child was going to be born.  When you talk of this matter of murdering, there are so many matters at hand.  If you look at an issue of somebody who has been wronged, they look for other macheteros or robbers to go and kill that person because; if you kill somebody, their spirit will haunt the killer.  This is why I thank His Excellency for saying that we should not kill.  His Excellency was once given a death sentence but fortunately escaped the killing, this is why he deems it fit for criminals to be committed to life imprisonment.   Hanging offenders is very truamatising and very bad.  This is the reason why Mr. Speaker Sir, when you pass along the road and come across an accident, you feel uneasy as soon as you notice human blood on the road sides.  When you come across a beast that has been hit by a car, you will not feel the same pain as the one you feel when a person is killed.

          Mr. Speaker Sir, I would like to thank you once again for giving me this opportunity to add my voice on this issue of the abolishment of a death sentence.  The Bible says, ‘Thou shall not kill,’ hence we should not kill.  With these few words Mr. Speaker Sir, I thank you. 

          *HON. GANYIWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  Let me add my few words to this debate. I will make it fast so that we may be released early. It is important to say the truth.  When the Hon. Minister spoke, he touched the hearts of many people, even those who had other thoughts.  Sometimes you imagine yourself in someone’s shoes, which might give someone modern thoughts to think that revenge is the best, but  when he spoke touching on all sides, I felt content, noticing that there is no crime that calls for someone to be killed. 

          When we go back to our respective constituencies, we are going to meet people who will ask what we agreed on pertaining to people who murder others.  We are going to face those questions. When the Hon. Minister was speaking, there was a word that came to me from the Lord that I should respond to this.  When you are cornered, you would say indeed, you have been wronged but if we say that the one who wronged you should also be wronged; and if the court rules that he who kills must also be killed.  I saw it prudent because I had the same thoughts.  For example, judging by the way Tapiwa Makore was murdered.  I could have the same thoughts but if I were to be given a knife and told to kill the person who killed my child, it is not easy.  We agree as Hon. Members, together with the President who was exceptionally lucky to escape such a death and this has been explained and elucidated that killing is very wrong.  The Bible says, ‘thou shall not kill’.  Truthfully, we should all agree that killing is very bad, but I was of the view that if there is a sentiment of killing, as was explained, that some people massacre others in a bad manner, it is so fit that the person should be given a life sentence.  

There are different prison cells where such people who would have killed other people should be sentenced to life imprisonment with hard labour. They should work for the country because a person should not be killed, only God can do that. I thank you Hon. Speaker Sir.

*HON. MAPIKI: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  I would like to thank Hon. Mushoriwa for bringing this motion into this august House. I would like to congratulate him for taking a cue from His Excellency the President, Dr. E. D. Mnangagwa who said that sentencing a human being to death is not morally right. I am further pleased to note that Members on the opposite side are also in agreement with the ruling party on the need to scrap the death penalty. Be that as it may, we should truly examine the issue of people who kill others. For example, if you go to the Avenues, you find some doctors who are acting unlawfully by carrying out some illegal abortions on pregnant women. This practice is also being carried out by traditional healers.

A case in point being the Tapiwa Makore issue where a ritual murder was carried out at the instigation of a traditional healer who went on to assist the culprits in conducting muti related rituals. However, it should be clear enough on the form of punishment that should be visited on people who commit such heinous acts. Some other people drive buses along the roads whilst they are drunk and if such people are involved in accidents that kill people, their penalty should be stiff. Turning to the health sector, we should take note of some people who do not want this country to be assisted with health facilities or medication for some diseases to be treated and food. Such offenders should be sentenced to life imprisonment with hard labour. With these few words, I would like to thank you.

HON. J. TSHUMA: Good afternoon Mr. Speaker Sir. Naturally, I was not going to really speak because people have spoken into this matter and justified it accordingly.  I would like to thank Hon. Mushoriwa for bringing such a pertinent Bill before us and the Minister of Justice, our President and the Cabinet for asserting to this worthy Bill because God gives life and God is the one who should take life.  Nobody else should have the right to do that.  The reason why I stood up most importantly is to say we are all in agreement here that we want to abolish the death penalty. In that perspective, I want us to deal with people that take lives as well.  There must be some written scripture to deal with them decisively.

We want a scenario whereby if you commit murder whether through the ways that are being said here that someone goes to a n’anga and a n’anga gives you medication and ways of killing somebody, that n’anga should definitely be dealt with. I want to support the idea that those people that do that must be put towards hard and thorough labour for the rest of their lives. They should produce for us the people that are outside here as well as inmates inside, so that their spirit of killing is turned into the spirit of saving the nation.

Those people must definitely make sure that they do not rest for the entirety of their lives. I remember in the bible when Cain murdered Abel, If God wanted to make a precedent, he would have killed Cain instantly but he let him be.  To show that if you kill, you do not necessarily have to be killed as well.  God made sure that Cain’s life was very difficult.  If you go on to read the Bible, that man was always running.

 He was always being attacked because of the things that he did of taking somebody’s life. This means that death penalty is out, but to those people who have committed murder, I would love the Hon. Minister of Justice to somehow make sure that for the culprit, punitive laws to avert further heinous acts of killing are enacted.  I know that he is a very good crafter and I know if he sits down and thinks about it very well, he will come up with such. This is because when you do so, you will face the consequences of hard labour in prison for the rest of your life.

The only thing that made me stand up was the Hon. Member there who had come up with the issue of saying hard labour and I really wanted to emphasise to say, let us make sure that these people know that you cannot kill and get away with murder.  Yes, we will not kill you, but you will work every day of your life nonstop until God decides to take your life.  Mr. Speaker, with those few words I would like to thank you very much for giving me this opportunity and say yes, let us abolish death penalty.  I thank you.

*HON. CHIBAGU: I am delighted that we are all now focused on national development. My experience in the past Parliaments have shown that most of the time, we were on each other’s necks and I am glad that Hon. Members have now agreed to clean the deck and be national development oriented. I am equally happy that today my children….

*HON. SPEAKER: Order, the correct address for your so-called children is Hon. Members.

*HON. CHIBAGU: I am glad that we are now focused on the work that our constituencies sent us out to perform. I am equally delighted in that our detractors are going to be shammed by us presenting a united fund in tandem with the ethos of our national development. Furthermore, the debate around this HIV is pertinent and should not be treated lightly. As an elderly Member of Parliament, I urge all of us to remain focused and united on national development issues. I am happy if you have been diagnosed with HIV, to some extent you would feel that you are dead.  However, I am happy about everything that was discussed in this august House.  Although I was quiet, I have heard a lot of debates and I am thankful.

          As we are debating, we are in the process of building the nation as we were sent by our constituencies.  Let us focus on the development of our nation.  As I stand before you as your mother – [ Laughter.]- let, me sit down then because I am troubling you, but I am thankful for all that has been said.  I would like to encourage people to talk about the development of the country and not about deaths or killings.

          *HON. NHARI: I would like to add a few words on the issue of death sentence.  Our Constitution gives us the right to life and not to die, so if someone has committed murder, we should look at what prompted them to kill.  We see people going to Sangomas for rituals because people do not want to be killed yet they are killing others.   We have seen people going to the relatives of the victim that they would have murdered to ask for forgiveness, which means the causes are usually demons and not deliberate.  People should not be killing each other, so death penalty should be abolished.

          *HON. NYAKUEDZWA: Thank you, Hon. Speaker.  I would like to contribute a few things on the issue of the death penalty that it is not good.  This law was placed by our colonisers so that we could not be a free people.  Our detractors saw a lot of potential in us and decided to put the death penalty upon us.

          If His Excellency the President was not a young man then, he could not have been the President now because of the death penalty.  Therefore, this law should be abolished.  As Zimbabweans, we should agree that someone who would have committed murder should be sentenced to life in prison, working for the country by doing farming and other activities that empower our economy until God takes them away and not men. 

Therefore, I would like to say that this law should be abolished.  Hon. Mushoriwa came with a good motion and I would like to thank him for that. I would also like to thank Hon. Chibagu, who has spoken as an elder, that the death penalty should be abolished.  I thank you.

          THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. MACHINGURA): Order! Yesterday during the debates here, Hon. Mushoriwa rose and explained that the Bill which he had started as a Private Bill be now transferred to the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs because there are things there that are of interest to the Executive. 

          Today, on the 30th of May 2024, he wrote a note which I just want to read to you as a way of informing you of the position that he has taken. It says “The Death Penalty Abolishment  Bill [H.B. 5 of 2023], in addressing the letter to the Speaker of the National Assembly, I write to inform you that following the Executive’s interest in the above-stated Bill, we have agreed that the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, should lead the process.”

          THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. Z. ZIYAMBI): Thank you, Mr. Speaker.  Mr Speaker, the Bill aroused a lot of interest in Members and I will make my response when everyone else has been allowed to debate.

          +HON. MATINENGA: Thank you Hon. Speaker for allowing me to add my words on the issue that is very important to us as a nation, the issue of abolishing the death penalty.  It has been said by most Hon. Members that killing is only for God and He is the one who brings life.

          I support that the death penalty should be abolished, but I would like to add that as Hon. Members we are now obliged that from our families, we teach everyone love and life.  Some things that are not being done is not preaching the importance of love and life.  We should learn to teach, starting from our families, advancing to the villages so that everyone in the country can know about it.  People should live in harmony and we pray that there should not be conflicts which may cause killing each other of people.  This issue of killing each other will end after the gospel of love and life has been preached.  Thank you, Hon. Speaker.  I also thank Hon. Mushoriwa for bringing the motion.

HON. TIMBURWA: I would like to appreciate Hon. Mushoriwa for bringing this Bill before the House and appreciate the Executive and the Minister, and every Member who has debated on this particular issue. 

I am rising particularly on the issue of accomplices or people who are part and parcel of a person who ends up committing murder. We know there are different circumstances that can lead a person to commit murder but there is a category that lies to or misleads people that if you slaughter someone and bring a human body part, then you will be successful. During our time and era, we have people who are ignorant to the point that they feel like for one to be rich and be successful, one needs to have a human body part. If there is any accomplice like that, be it a witchdoctor, with the help and indulgence of the Minister, will there be a way that we can have regulation on how people who are under ZINATHA can be regulated in this regard so that we do not have people who are then pushed and induced into ideas of committing murder. If there is anyone who participates and leads someone into committing murder, for whatever reason, let there be punishment that goes to that person if it means he is also going to be secondary degree murderer and they are also given life sentence in prison. That will make ensure our society is safe and people do not believe in get rich quick notions, especially the young generation.  Thank you, Mr. Speaker Sir.

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. Z. ZIYAMBI):  I move that the debate do now adjourn.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume: Tuesday, 11th June, 2024.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

          HON. TOGAREPI: I move that all other Orders of the Day be stood over until Order of the Day Number 9 has been disposed of.

          HON. A. MOYO:  I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

LEGISLATION TO PROMOTE THE DEVELOPMENT OF

PREVIOUSLY MARGINALISED LANGUAGES

HON. BAJILA:  I move the motion in my name that this House:

NOTING THAT Section 6 (1) of the Constitution provides that, “The following languages, namely Chewa, Chibarwe, English, Kalanga, Koisan, Nambya, Ndau, Ndebele, Shangani, Shona, sign language, Sotho, Tonga, Tswana, Venda and Xhosa, are the officially recognised languages of Zimbabwe”;

AND WHEREAS Section 6 (4) of the Constitution also provides that, “The State must promote and advance the use of all languages used in Zimbabwe, including sign language, and must create conditions for the development of those languages”;

NOTING that education is a conduit through which languages can be promoted and advanced;

FURTHER NOTING that the Zimbabwean education delivery programme allows for promotion and teaching of numerous non official languages such as French, German, Portuguese and Mandarin, among others;

DESIROUS to create a more harmonious Zimbabwe where language proficiency is not a barrier to peaceful and progressive coexistence;

NOW, THEREFORE, calls upon the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education: a) To amend Section 62 of the Education Act so as to prescribe for other official languages in schools as recognised in Section 6 of the Constitution in the same manner as Shona, Ndebele and English. b) To come up with legislation which promotes the development of previously marginalised languages by way of teaching such languages outside areas they are commonly used as the mother language in the country.

          HON. V. MOYO:  I second.

HON. BAJILA:  The motion basically seeks to help us as a nation to realise the aspirations we set for ourselves in Section 6 of our Constitution as we adopted in the year 2013.

Mr. Speaker, the Constitution gives effect to 16 official languages of Zimbabwe as set out therein.  I wish to start my debate by making some definitions of what we are looking into.  Thereafter, I will seek to answer a question that says; where do we come from in terms of language promotion and language development as Zimbabwe since the times of our colonization?  I will proceed to assume and make a few summaries of where we are as of today then I will end by seeking to answer the question of what is to be done.

Mr. Speaker, I will define language promotion as an investment in human, social, economic and political resources in the production of literature and artworks of a specific language.  We will define previously marginalised languages as indigenous languages of Zimbabwe that were not constitutionally recognised until we adopted our new Constitution in 2013.  Where do we come from as a people with respect to language promotion and language development?  In 1923, the Government of Southern Rhodesia working with various church missionaries convened what was called the Southern Rhodesia Missionary Conference.  The Southern Rhodesia Missionary Conference proceeded to be held again in 1932 and 1950. 

These three missionary conferences were for the purposes of codifying numerous languages so that the Government of Southern Rhodesia could be capable of communicating with the natives using their own languages.  Also, so that the Christian denominations in their various forms could be able to produce literature and distribute it amongst the natives or the indigenous people. What then happened was that the three missionary conferences agreed that resources should be put together for the support of indigenous languages with isiNdebele and Chishona being prominent ones.  Much of the development of these languages emanated from decision of missionary conferences and the Government of Southern Rhodesia in 1923, 1932 and 1950.

Most importantly, in 1931 the Government of Southern Rhodesia hired Professor Clement Dock of the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa where he produced his report titled the ‘Standardisation of Chishona Dialect’, where he sought to bring numerous languages that existed at that point in time and bring together what is now known as standard Chishona.  I raise this point as a means of saying the state has a history of linking with numerous partners to develop and promote languages before.  This is what we can and we should do with respect to the previously marginalised languages as previously defined.

We move further to 1987.  In 1987, our independent Government came up with the Education Act and that Act emphasised further the promotion and development of the languages that the Government of Southern Rhodesia and its partners had established.  What we saw post the 1987 Education Act was investments and cooperation in the mass production of literature in English, Ndebele and ChiShona.  That mass production of literature produced many books as we saw the cooperation between Government and its partners that included your Longman, Mambo Press, College Press and so forth.  There was at that point in time, an addition of sign language into the recognition of the languages of Zimbabwe. 

We now move to 1994.  In 1994, Zimbabwe moved from Nkosi sikelela iAfrica as its National Anthem to our present-day National Anthem, Phakamisani iflegi yeZimbabwe.  What happened at that time was that there was investment in competitions of who was best in singing the National Anthem of Zimbabwe.  I am proud as a Member of Parliament for Emakhandeni-Luveve Constituency that Luveve High School won the isiNdebele competition of the national anthem – Phakamisani iflegi in 1994.  I am further proud that as part of that choir, there was Juliana Makuvire who was a form 2 student at Luveve High and she is a Member of this Parliament today. 

The point I am trying to bring was that even as we built our new national anthem, as we supported it – there was state investment in the official languages that were recognised at that point in time.  That is why the competitions were only held in those languages.

In 2013, we then adopted a new Constitution where we made numerous languages, specifically 16 languages to be the official languages of Zimbabwe.  Section 6.1 of the Constitution actually says the state must promote those languages.  I remember when we met, we first had the debate on the death penalty, there was a serious debate on the difference between the word must and may. That debate was settled on that day when it was established that if the Constitution says something must be done, it means that we do not have an option.  It is unlike if the Constitution had said may.  It will mean that we have an option whether to do it or not. 

Luckily, Section 6.1 of the Constitution says the State must promote those languages.  I therefore rise today to say; how then should the state do this promotion of the languages?  Today we are at a point where despite the fact that we have 16 official languages, our state infrastructure and our statecraft have serious prominence for only three.  Eleven years after the adoption of the new Constitution, if I get to the Court of Zimbabwe in Beitbridge, something that tells me that the court is this direction, none of it is written in ChiVenda.  If I am going to visit Government offices in Binga; on my way to the Government offices in Binga, there is no insignia that is written in Tonga.  If I go to Chiredzi, there is no insignia that speaks in Shangani.  If I go to Chipinge, there is no insignia that speaks in Ndau yet in terms of our Constitution, the importance of Ndau and English are the same, the importance of Ndebele and Venda are the same, yet in terms of our Constitution, all our 16 languages must be given that kind of prominence even as we direct our people in terms of where to go to get Government Services.

A few weeks ago, I got into a shop here in Harare.  I received a phone call from my father.  We had a conversation on the call in isiXhosaThe shopkeeper who was there gained interest in the conversation until I was done.  He got close to me and then started conversing with me in isiXhosaI was curios to find out how he knows the language.  He narrated to me that he lived in the Eastern Cape in South Africa for 10 years and he has a family now that he built there.  That is how he got there and learnt the language but here in Zimbabwe where we are, we have a situation that if I am to move from Matopo where I come from and stay in Chipinge as a civil servant or as a business person, I have no interest at all in learning Ndau.   I will continue to speak in my language, yet if I am to move just across the border and be in Mozambique where the same language is spoken by some people who stay there, I will immediately develop appetite for learning the same language.

Our people are moving to the Bubi and Umguza area where isiXhosa is spoken, but have no appetite for learning it. If the same people get jobs in Eastern Cape, we find them speaking isiXhosa.  People move and get to work in Beitbridge without an appetite to learn ChiVenda but if they get a job in Thoyohandou, they begin to speak ChiVenda.  These are our people and today we seek how best we can develop this appetite for learning these languages because they are our languages. Our people must find themselves capable of conversing among one another.  At least if I cannot converse in the language, it must be possible to hear what my friend or what the person sitting next to me is saying or speaking about.  This essentially stands at the heart of the motion as set out in Order Number No. 9 of today.

          Without taking long, I move to say we have languages, we spoke but now, what is to be done? Leftists have read an essay written by Vladimir Lenin of the same title and I do not seek to be another Lenin, but I seek to assist us on some practical things that we can do and that this House can recommend to numerous Government ministries and even to Portfolio Committees of this House on actions that we can take. Why it is important to act is that in 1987, as I have said earlier on, Sign Language was given prominence in terms of the law because the Education Act of 1987 adopted Sign Language as an official language that must be taught and appear everywhere. Today, 37 years later, Sign Language is still unsupported by a lot of things that we do.

          Therefore, the fact that our Constitution and statutes say it, does not necessarily mean that we will get somewhere. My wish and the wish of all of us must be to say if somebody goes from anywhere and arrives in Hwange tomorrow and finds the people of Hwange conversing in Nambya, they must be capable of hearing what the people of Hwange are saying. Above all, they must have the appetite to learn Nambya when they eventually get there.

          My first suggestion on what is to be done goes to a study visit of what other countries have done in order to respect numerous languages that are official in those countries. This could be done by the Portfolio Committee on Primary and Secondary Education or Sports, Arts and Recreation because some of the issues belong to the National Arts Council. We have some countries that have done extremely well. Here in the global south, we have Ethiopia which designates and promotes 12 official languages and has done extremely well. We can learn from our brothers in Ethiopia.

          We also have India who have a Commission on the official languages of India and have a Permanent Committee of Parliament which looks into issues of the official languages of India. We also have the Pan South African Language Board across the Limpopo which also focuses on the official languages of South Africa and does a lot of work around them. Outside the global south, we have Switzerland which has a Federal Act on National Languages of the Swiss People and Finland which has an institute for the languages of Finland wholly supported by the State and doing a lot of things to protect, promote and develop the languages of Finland. A study visit to any or all of these countries by a respective Committee of this House could assist us to develop ourselves further.

          Secondly, in 2022, there was a draft policy in Zimbabwe where numerous language organisations – the Ndau Language Promoters Association, the siNdebele Language Promoters Association and so forth met with Government in Victoria Falls at the Elephant Hills and developed a draft Language Policy. That draft Language Policy, I would like to call upon this House to ensure that it is expedited to the stage it becomes the actual policy and not the draft with the view of further developing that draft Language Policy into a National Languages Promotion Act of Zimbabwe. That way, we will have various instruments of acting and developing our languages.

          I also propose that we move further to establish a statutory body for the development and promotion of Zimbabwean languages. If possible, consider the promotion of Zimbabwe Indigenous Languages Promoters Association into a statutory status. Those who participated in the Constitution making process like myself, will be aware of the work that ZILPA played in sensitising our communities on the importance of participation in the process, and also in assisting Government to ensure that the new Constitution of Zimbabwe gets translated into our numerous languages. A statutory body for the development and promotion of our languages will be an absolute necessity as we move forward.

          We also may need to amend the Education Act of 1987 to improve the recognition of previously marginalised languages. I have to say in 2020, this House made an amendment to that Act. The amendment was to the effect that all schools should find space to teach all languages. I think it was a good aspiration but somehow an impossibility in the sense that we have 16 official languages of Zimbabwe and this means that if we were to be able to satisfy this need of the Education Act, we will have to teach all the 16 official languages in all the schools of Zimbabwe and thereafter, teach other subjects like geography, history, mathematics, physics and so forth. That would give our kids independence on the subjects that they go to school for. We might need to revisit the Education Act of 1987 to make it possible to deliver this necessary development in our country.

          One of the tools we may use is an amendment to seek the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education to amend Circular 4 of 2024 which pegged the number of subjects that every ‘O’ level pupil must have to eight. We may seek an amendment to this so that it goes to nine. When it then goes to nine, we make it mandatory that the ninth one becomes a previously marginalised language. The eighth that the Minister sought to put continues to be as it were, then we have the ninth one which becomes a previously marginalised language. In order to do so, we may need to establish a system of consultations, consulting parents and stakeholders as we used to do during the development of CALA, that parents would get consulted on what is to be done and what is not to be done until through consultations with parents we agreed to drop CALA. We might adopt the same system with respect to which previously marginalised language goes where.

          The stakeholders and parents in Murewa District need to get consulted over a period of 15 years to say, in addition to the eight subjects that are being taught at secondary schools, which of the previously marginalised languages would you like to be taught in this place? What will then happen is that the people of Murewa decide the marginalised language they want to be taught within Murewa District is Tonga. This will mean that the brotherhood between the people of Murewa and Binga that already exists actually get more cemented by the language commonalities that would have been created by that kind of a policy. This must not be difficult because we are already teaching Portuguese, French, German and Spanish in our schools. How then should it be difficult for us to introduce chiVenda, chiKalanga, Nambya, Tonga in our schools because we already have these languages that are there which are not our own. Mr. Speaker, I also propose that Zimbabwe, in order to bring the international community to our promotion of these languages to hold a multi-stakeholder or a multi-lateral conference on the promotion of the languages of Zimbabwe so that we can tap into international instrument such as Article 27 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights which is sometimes known as the Banjul Charter and Article 19 of the United Nations International Convention of Civil and Political Rights.

Mr. Speaker, it might also be necessary for us to begin to imagine and set up a fund for the promotion of arts in these previously marginalised languages.  We have done these arts competitions before we come from the history of biras, we come from the history of ourselves promoting arts in various means. We might need to go back there but this time around with the view of promoting these previously marginalised languages because after all they are our own languages and after all it is us who marginalised them.

Mr. Speaker, I end by saying, in all that we do, I call upon this House and I call upon the Government to put more effort in the official languages of Zimbabwe called Khoisan. It is important for us to focus on Khoisan because whatever we say, however we view the history of Zimbabwe, at the end of the day all of us found the Khoisan people here and today their language is facing extinction.  It is incumbent upon us to say in all things that we do when we are focusing on language promotion, we remember Khoisan as the oldest language of our land. Mr. Speaker, I thank you.

*HON. MAPIKI:  Thank you Hon. Speaker. I would like to thank the mover of the motion, Hon. Bajila. It is an important issue and it came from far.  It started in 1884 during the Berlin Conference in Belgium.  They talked about dividing Africa, Zimbabwe was included in a group of what is known as Bantustan - that is where the problem of languages begins.  When we look back when we came from in Ethiopia all of us; if you hear a person speaking Swahili, it is similar to what we are saying.  If you hear a person who speaks Ndebele, Shona, they are some familiar words.  Had it not been for tribalism, we should be speaking one language.  I was thinking of the way forward so that everyone can speak the 16 languages. Those who speak Ndebele, the likes of Hon. Bajila knows many languages. If we go to Bulawayo people know the Tonga language but here someone cannot ask ‘where is the toilet’ in another language. So Hon. Bajila has been stating important things because in his area, they know different languages. It is ruining the business in Zimbabwe because people do not speak many languages, people cannot communicate effectively because of language barrier.

The big issue that maybe causing people not to learn other languages is that you cannot get a job when you do not have English language even if you have passed all the subjects. If you want to study Science subjects at the University, you can have an A in Biology or a Science but if you have a D in English, you will not be enrolled. For people to be employed, they must be conversant with at least four indigenous languages.  Now it is like mandatory that one must be able to write or speak English for them to get a job.  There is nothing that is being done in the education sector to people who do not have English but they will have other subjects.

The education sector will want someone to learn English even though they passed Agriculture or Science, they will still want English even with a C so that you can get a place in the University or get a job. People should also be taught sign language; so the issue brought by Hon. Bajila is an important issue.  Sometimes even conflicts are caused by language barriers.  It is my suggestion that people in vocational training centers or Chitepo School of Ideology should be taught different languages because if a person only knows English, Ndebele and Shona, he or she will be considered good but that is not enough.

The use of many languages also promotes intermarriages because it will be easy for couples to communicate. If I am courting a woman who knows Venda, I will end up knowing the language. So, inter-marriages may promote infusion of languages among people of different cultures in Zimbabwe. In this Parliament, we have a duty to promote the aspirations of the Zimbabwean people in terms of language use as enshrined in Section 6 of the Constitution which lists 16 official languages that are recognised in Zimbabwe.

I have also observed that in this august House, there are some people who are ashamed of speaking their mother tongue despite the fact that they are not comfortable with the English language. Charity begins at home. To that end, I hereby make this clarion call for Members not to be ashamed of debating in their mother tongue. Debating in one’s mother tongue does not make you a lesser MP. In fact, it does help one to be comfortable and in the end, helps to make meaningful debates as one will be using their first language.

In so encouraging Hon. Members to speak the local languages, let me give a personal experience that occurred to me in Binga when I failed to request for the use of the toilet in the local language. This was an embarrassing moment for me. I saw the importance of being conversant with most of Zimbabwe’s indigenous languages. It will be quite an embarrassment for all Members of Parliament who frequent this House, but fail to communicate with each other in our different mother tongues. 

Our biggest predicament is with the school system where English is preferred ahead of all the other languages. It is my considered view that we should place the same weight that we place on the English language to all the other 15 official languages. As Zimbabweans, we should celebrate and honour people that are capable of speaking at least any three of the official languages.

 I further advocate for compulsory learning of sign language in our schools as it is important in the communication world, not only the disabled people, but even with able bodied persons. We also learnt during the Land Reform Programme on the importance of knowing a lot of these indigenous languages. I married early – alas! Had I married later on, I would have taken a wife from Chipinge, Masvingo or Binga. By so doing, I would have promoted not only inter marriages, but the integration of multi-culture and multi-language use.

In conclusion, I would like to thank Hon. Bajila for raising this important motion. You will observe that it is going to be supported by everyone as it embraces all ethnic groups. Furthermore, it will foster and promote unity amongst Members on the opposite side of this House. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

HON. TOGAREPI: I move that the debate do now adjourn.

HON. BAJILA: I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Tuesday, 11th June 2024.

On the motion of HON. TOGAREPI, seconded by HON. MUROMBEDZI, the House adjourned at Thirteen Minutes past Five o’clock p.m. until Tuesday, 11th June 2024.

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