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SENATE HANSARD 23 NOVEMBER 2021 VOL 31 NO 14

PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Tuesday, 23rd November, 2021

The Senate met at Half-past Two O’clock p.m.

PRAYERS

(THE DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE in the Chair)

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

HON. SEN. MATHUTHU: I move that Orders of the Day, Numbers 1 and 2, on today’s Oder Paper be stood over until the rest of the Orders of the Day have been disposed of.

HON. SEN. TONGOGARA: I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

CURBING GENDER BASED VIOLENCE AMONG COMMUNITIES

HON. SEN. CHIMBUDZI: I move the motion standing in my name that this House-

NOTING with concern that since the outbreak of COVID-19, there has been a sharp increase of gender-based violence (GBV) especially domestic violence in the country;

AWARE that Zimbabwe is a signatory of UN international and regional treaties and protocols against GBV, amongst them CEDAW, SADC Protocol on Gender and Development;

ACKNOWLEDGING the United Nations Secretary-General’s UNiTE by 2030 to End Violence against Women campaign (UNiTE campaign) that calls for global actions to increase awareness, galvanise advocacy efforts, to end GBV;

AWARE that this year’s theme for 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, which will run from 25 November to 10 December 2021, is “Orange the World: End Violence against Women Now!”;

RECOGNISING the efforts that the Government has been taking to curb the scourge of GBV through policies and activities in provinces and districts;

WORRIED that if urgent measures are not taken to reduce the prevalence of GBV, there is real risk that GBV will be a real pandemic within the COVID-19 crisis;

NOW, THEREFORE, CALLS upon the Executive to do more to curb GBV among communities by, among others

  • deploying more GBV mobile services in districts and provinces; and
  • building more safe houses

HON. SEN. SHUMBA: I second.

HON. SEN. CHIMBUDZI: I rise before this august House, firstly, to inform this House that this year, Zimbabwe is commemorating 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, the theme: Orange the World: End Violence against Women and Girls: No to Child Marriages!” Honorable Members will recall that this annual commemoration has, since 1991, been an effective platform for rededication towards total elimination of all forms of violence against women and the girl child. Activities lined up for the commemoration testify of our commitment to ending violence in the country, and these include:

  • Lighting of Parliament of Zimbabwe Orange punctuated ‘an Address by the Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Advocate J. F. N Mudenda’;
  • High Level Dialogue on 16 Days of Activism punctuated through a Key Note Address by the President of the Senate, Hon. M. M. Chinomona; and outreach to four provinces.

Any act that is likely to result in physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivations of liberty constitutes GBV. You will realise that given that broad definition, GBV is widespread. It knows no social or economic boundaries and affects women and girls of all socio-economic backgrounds. It is a global pandemic that affects 1 in 3 women in their lifetime. No doubt, GBV disproportionately affects women and girls. Most often, men are the perpetrators and women the victims. GBV can be deeply traumatic, fistula, destroys families, drives homelessness and results in illness, injury, disability and death.

Globally, conventions, protocols and treaties to which Zimbabwe is a State Party include Convention on Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women of 1979; the UN General Assembly of 1993; Fourth World Conference on Women: Action for Development, Equality and Peace, 1995; the SADC Declaration on Gender and Development on the Prevention and Eradication of Violence against women and Children of 1997.

GBV or violence against women and girls (VAWG), is a global pandemic that affects 1 in 3 women in their lifetime. It can cause long-term physical and mental health problems. Violence and abuse affect not just the women involved but also their children, families, and communities. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, emerging data from those on the frontlines have shown that all types of violence against women and girls, particularly domestic violence, have intensified. In fact, the spiking cases of the GBV have been described as the shadow pandemic growing amidst the COVID-19 crisis. There is need for a global collective effort to stop it. In Zimbabwe, according to UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, between January and September 2020, 5 507 GBV cases were reported through the national GBV hot line, recording a 200% increase, compared with the same timeframe in 2019, when 1 930 cases were recorded. During time of crisis, more than ever, calls for the need to be zero tolerant of domestic violence and exploitation of women and girls in any communities. This is of vital importance because women are not just victims in crisis situations like COVID-19 lock down, but they are also a group that plays a pivotal role in COVID-19 response.

I would like to take the opportunity to make reference to the legal framework the government put in place to address GB, which by and large is adequate but lack of full enforcement remains a challenge. Chapter 4 of the Constitution, Part 2, Sections 48 (1), 51, 52 and 53 provide for the right to dignity, personal security and freedom from inhuman and degrading treatment and all forms of violence; - the Domestic Violence Act; the Matrimonial Cause Act, the 1989 Maintenance Act, the 1997 Administration of Estates Act, the 2001 Amended Sexual Offences Act, the 2006 Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act and the 2007 Domestic Violence Act. Regardless of all the aforementioned policies and conferences, GBV continues to be a thorn in the flesh among women globally, regionally and Zimbabwe in particular.

It is of concern to the Zimbabwe Women Parliamentary Caucus, and the august House should be equally concerned, that the government has apparently failed to fully enforce existing GBV laws. I propose it is time a new GBV law is made, maybe one that codifies all the GBV laws into one that is effectively enforced. The different pieces of legislation have their own weaknesses that should be addressed urgently. For instance, GBV is not confined to the domestic sphere, but it can take place anywhere anytime, at a place of work, in public spaces, at bus stations, and in the informal sector. In addition, we are aware that funding of GBV programmes remain a challenge. Key GBV institutions, in particular the Anti-Domestic Violence Council, the Zimbabwe Gender Commission and Victim Friendly Units under the ZRP, require more resource allocation and timely disbursement in order for them to execute their mandate. 

The Anti- Domestic Violence Council especially, has been unable to carry out its work effectively due to lack of any meaningful funding, yet it was established to promote the protection and relief of victims of domestic violence through research, information dissemination, coordination and monitoring. As we commemorate 16 Days of Activism and Gender Based Violence against Women, we take this opportunity to call upon the Treasury to fully adopt the concept of Gender Responsive Budgeting. Poverty is a risk factor associated with gender-based violence. It reinforces gender inequality and further marginalizes the status of women. Therefore, through Gender Responsive Budgeting and women economic empowerment, they can be powerful tools in reducing gender-based violence. We implore, as the Zimbabwe Women Parliamentary Caucus, the august House to ensure funding facilities such as the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Corporation (SMEDCO) and the Women's Micro Finance Bank.

Violence against women and girls is one of the most prevalent human rights violations in the world. This issue is not only devastating for survivors of violence and their families, but also entails significant social and economic costs. Decreasing violence against women and girls requires a community-based, multi-pronged approach, and sustained engagement with multiple stakeholders. The elimination by 2030, of all forms of violence against women and girls, and of all harmful practices such as child, early and forced marriage, are key targets adopted under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This august House will note that while having laws on the books is important, it is not sufficient. Numerous GBV laws continue to co-exist with high prevalence of domestic violence or sexual harassment, and child marriages, which also become a scourge in its own right. This may result from poor implementation of the laws, whether due to poor enforcement, low capacity, or the lack of additional mechanisms, policies and specific programmes. We believe as women that the violence against women in this country continues despite legislation because of various factors: gender inequality, cultural attitudes towards the position of women in society, and women economic marginalization. A culture of patriarchy - especially within local power structures, makes it impossible for women to compete even for political power.

Survivors of domestic violence need a full package of services yet in most communities, service providers are located in different physical locations, thereby inhibiting timely and efficient responses. Police stations and hospitals do not provide a conducive atmosphere to report cases of GBV. I would like to applaud the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Government of Zimbabwe (GoZ), through the Ministry of Women Affairs, Community and SMEs Development, for launching a One Stop Centre (OSC) at Gwanda Provincial Hospital. We are also aware that Musasa Project established safe houses in provinces. The One Stop Centre concept will go a long way in providing the much needed medical, legal and psycho-social services to survivors at no cost under one roof. My only concern however, is that there is still a lot of provinces and districts which do not have such facilities. What this means is that women in these provinces cannot access critical GBV services. I think it is urgent that the Ministry rolls, in the meantime, mobile GBV services

Child and forced marriage (CFM) is an extreme human rights violation and a harmful practice that disproportionately affects women and girls globally, preventing them from living their lives free from all forms of violence. CFM threatens the lives and futures of girls and women around the world. Child marriages disrupt the girl child education, making them more vulnerable to violence, discrimination and abuse, and preventing their full participation in economic, political and social spheres.

While we are pleased that Zimbabwe has committed to eliminate child, early and forced marriage by 2030 in line with target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals, you are aware that the Marriage Bill, among other things, seeks to end child marriages. This will, in turn, reduce incidences of domestic violence in communities. In addition to that, Zimbabwe has adopted the 4P’s campaign, namely, 'Prevention, Protection, Participation, Programmes'. This campaign is informed by the Africa Unite to End Violence against Women Campaign, the regional component of the UN Secretary General’s global UNiTE campaign. Be that as it may, child marriages remain a concern in the country, especially in the context of COVID-19.

You are aware that a sharp increase in teen pregnancies and child marriages has been reported in Zimbabwe during the COVID-19 lock-down, with at least 4,959 girls falling pregnant, and 1,174 cases of child marriages being recorded between January and February in 2021, as reported by the Ministry of Women Affairs, Community and SMEs Development. Prolonged lock-down due to the Coronavirus pandemic has seen children going for months without attending school, exacerbating the complex factors that drive teen pregnancies and early marriages. Child marriages and pregnancies are a form of GBV that the girl child continues to suffer. COVID-19 is simply exacerbating the situation. This should be addressed promptly, otherwise this is fast becoming another pandemic within a pandemic. The lock-down and the protracted closure of schools have also left many girls cut off from support systems intended to protect them from abuse.

Therefore, I humbly would request this august House to recognise and play a role in raising awareness against gender based violence in all its forms, work around laws related to sexual harassment and together should explore how a specific law on gender equality can protect women and the girl child, finalise the Marriages Bill, among other things. It begins with us Parliamentarians. I thank you.

          +HON. SEN. MPOFU:  Thank you Mr. President of the Senate for allowing me this opportunity to add my voice to this important motion.  It is important for us as Zimbabweans to share and that we should know that there is abuse of women and girls, not only for us here in Zimbabwe but throughout the world.  These 16 days of activism are recognised by all countries in the world.  They all recognise that women and the girl child are being abused and it is particularly coming from the males.

                   First and foremost, what causes that abuse is this disease, COVID-19.  During this time of COVID-19, children were not attending school.  As a result, during that period, people were at home and relatives particularly were abusing women and the girl child.  Women were abused so much during the lockdown because the husband was at home, he was not going to work.  A lot of companies had closed down and that caused men to request for particular food even though it was not available at home.  The men would abuse women for that.

          Most of the children during the COVID-19 lockdown were married off because of poverty, particularly in the communal areas this was quite rampant.  When people ran out of things, they would marry off their daughters so that there could be some food.  That is bad indeed.  That child’s right would have been violated to be married off while she is still a young child.  My view is that such parents who marry off their daughters should also face criminal charges as to why they are doing that because they are abusing the girl child.

A girl child should not be married off before her time.  That violence comes in various ways.  It happens that at home when a woman requests for something from the husband, the husband becomes aggressive.  When the woman requests to go for a meeting then the male refuses.  That is wrong.  We, as Senators and Members of Parliament, should campaign and conscientise those in the rural areas that the abuse of women and girls is not right and is illegal. 

Sometimes it is difficult to see that abuse because the police stations are far away.  You find that in some wards, there are no police stations.  For people to walk it is difficult because of the distance they have to travel.  When you travel that long distance, the police tell you to go and fetch the abuser.  That becomes difficult and that causes people not to make reports.  At police stations, there are now what are called victim friendly units but most people are not aware of that.  People should be informed.  The police as well should conscientise the communities about victim friendly units so that people may know where to go when abused to make a report to the police.  You can report to the police or the hospital.  It is allowed.  It is my hope that by 2030, all this abuse of girls and women should come to a stop and we should be seen as a civilised nation which recognises human rights. 

On political issues particularly, we are being abused as women.  There are many women by virtue of our population, but when you want to stand for a post in politics, you find that in those posts, men are found in higher numbers because we are being looked down upon as women. There are posts that we are not supposed to occupy as women in leadership, but our Constitution says we have equal rights.  It is our request that our chiefs should help us to conscientise communities so that women are not abused and girl children are not married off while they are still young.  It should start there in the communal areas to conscientise people not to marry young girls. The Marriages Bill must quickly attend to this so that those who violate that law are prosecuted and sentenced.  As of now, it is difficult to prosecute because the law is not yet in place.  A child must be said to be ready for sex at 18 and it is my plea that the Marriages Bill be made into law so as to protect the girl child and women from abuse.  Mr. President, I thank you for giving me this opportunity to debate.

          *HON. SEN. MOEKETSI: Thank you Mr. President for giving me this opportunity to debate. I would like to thank Hon. Sen. Chimbudzi who moved this motion of Sixteen Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence.  I would like to add my voice concerning women and young girls.  I do not know why but in our country, I believe that we have laws; I do not know where people are going wrong in respecting women’s rights.  Women are being abused in homes, young girls are being raped.  I was hurt last week seeing a woman who was violated by her husband, her body and that of the children were cut into pieces.  This is painful Mr. President because when these people are arrested, they are not given deterrent sentences as compared to those who steal livestock but they would have killed people.  There is no painful thing like not respecting women.  Women are being abused, there is no specific sector that we can say is genuinely reserved for women, whether it is in agriculture or somewhere, women are given the smallest portion or are the last beneficiaries; in all things men benefit first. 

          Mr. President, I do not know whether it is our patriarchal structure that is tough on women. The culture says when a woman gets married, she is taught to be submissive to the man.  All the things belong to the husband, be it cattle, goats, poultry and even the woman is said to belong to the man.  Women suffer in so many ways.  Some man rape young girls who are as young as their own children.  I do not know what should be done regarding punitive sentences for such perpetrators.  You find a sexual offender being given community services.

          Mr. President, I was pained to hear the story of a young woman who picked up a phone and gave it to her husband.  Some people came to collect the phone from her claiming that they were the rightful owners.  They were told that the phone was given to her husband.  They took the phone and police officers then came and took the young woman to the police camp. On their way to the police camp, the young woman was raped by the police officers.  On arriving at the police station, the young woman denied allegations of stealing the phone insisting that she picked it up and have since given it back to the owner.  The young woman then alerted the police officers on how she was raped. The police officers denied the allegations and she told them that she left her pant on the scene evidence to show that she was raped. The police officers denied raping the woman.  Women are facing challenges. So Mr. President, this is really painful.  Where do we go and report as women?   

          There is a very serious problem in the nation.  Government should look at what is happening or what women go through in rural areas and everywhere where women are.  I would also like to request that there be victim friendly centres near homesteads. In other areas, women have to travel long distances to go to the police.  In cases of rape, when they arrive at the police station, there will not be any evidence left.  It takes some close to three days to go and report and it helps if police stations are near.  This is a painful situation; it is difficult for women; we are being used to do things that are not right.  During election times, the woman is told to go and do this and that and these are bad things and because of fear, women are found to be perpetuating such bad deeds. 

Mr. President, with these few words, I would like to say a rapists and sexual offenders should be given deterrent sentences or life in jail, I thank you

          *HON. SEN. CHIFAMBA: Thank you Mr. President for affording me this opportunity to add my voice to the motion that was raised by Hon. Sen. Chimbudzi on an issue which affects us as women.  I would like to say that we have had a tough time in this country and as women, we do not know how to live because when a man gets angry he takes an axe which is supposed to chop firewood and he chops his wife.   I do not know what spirit has possessed our men because when he takes that axe and axes his wife and children, you wonder what crime has been committed by these young children.  I do not know, this is really bad, we need God’s divine intervention upon our nation.  Even in a community where a woman is being abused and axed by his husband, phones are becoming a problem.    In the past, people used to intervene but nowadays people are just on their cellphones.  They take videos of a person being abused.  What is so interesting about watching a person being abused? After taking that video and posting it on social media, what do you benefit from that?  Instead of confidently approaching such a person and assisting the person who is being abused, I do not know what spirit has possessed people where you find a person violating the whole family, mother and children.  We have cases of children who are going to trauma centres who have seen their mothers being beaten up or killed.  This is painful; you end up wondering what is happening. This is not right, it is painful.  You find an adult male raping a minor then killing that minor and dismembering the minor’s body parts.  May- be you are cutting a life short of a prospective nurse or leader.  This is happening in our country and this is tough.  You find a person raping a three year old, what do you benefit from that?  She does not even know what you are doing, you are just disturbing and destroying her life.  Even when we go to fruit trees like mangos and peaches, we pluck those that are ripe and not raw mangoes.  How about a three year old girl? Is that girl ripe - no she is not ripe, she is an innocent child who is being punished for no apparent reason; she is being made to suffer for no reason. 

Mr. President, I do not know if this is because of many people. Is it because of traditional healers and prophets, I do not know - but women are facing the brunt of sexual abuse.  They are being killed and raped.  What should we do about rapists?  My belief is that we do not want them to be killed but those who are raping children should be castrated because they will continue to rape.  Going to jail, that organ might be used to rape other men in jail – [HON. SENATORS: Hear, hear.] –Sometimes when you move around, you end up fearing people - you do not want to meet people. When you meet people you try to avoid them because you do not know whether they can be trusted or not. 

          In the past, when you meet a man in darkness, they would accompany you so that you are safe but nowadays you are no longer safe, you can be raped.  This is a painful issue which is really affecting me.  Wherever I see a woman being beaten up or being killed, I feel like crying because this is a woman like me, it pains me.  You find that when a woman is being beaten up where men and women are found, like in a beer hall, you find people saying that a prostitute is being beaten up instead of protecting that person but people just celebrate the beating up of a woman.  If she committed a promiscuous act, if it is adultery, why is it that people only beat up women but do not beat men? Is it because women are not powerful or strong enough to retaliate also?  When you go to the police station to report such a case, the police officers will also judge that woman asking where she was beaten up and when she says it was in a bar, no one is prepared to assist her.  So, after being beaten up, it is important that she is protected.

You also find the police officers also abusing commercial sex workers. I do not know what spirit is hovering around policemen who are supposed to protect people but are seen abusing women.  They no longer fear committing crime.  How is this going to be addressed? You end up going to report that I have been abused by a police officer.  For instance, the case that was referred to by the Hon. Member, they were walking for a distance of almost 20 kilometres until that woman was raped and she left her under garment. She was tested and it was discovered that she had contracted a virus. This is going to affect her in terms of marriage. She might not get married because she has been infected after being raped.  We find people in Samora Machel who want money in exchange for sexual favours. These are commercial sex workers who are prepared to be paid yet you find men raping and abusing young girls who are innocent. When you are raping, you are affecting and destroying both the mental and physical state of your victim. I do not even know where you are coming from when you beat me up and abuse me. Recently, a man fought with his wife and then I said this man did this because I was not nearby. After beating up the mother, he held his small baby by the neck. When I came back home, I was told the story of such abuse.

          I was told that that small child was held by the neck and the baby was only three months old. That man was lucky because I was not nearby. I wanted to confront him and get him arrested. Why lift such a small baby by the neck? The child cried a lot. This was very traumatic because we have young children who saw that abuse. Some children from the neighborhood were so affected, they ended up saying he wanted to kill his child. I said that this happens and I had to counsel them. Children in that neighborhood are very concerned because it is affecting them psychologically. May God help us and intervene.      Some children and a number of thousands of children who were abused by their uncles and relatives have fallen pregnant. You find a father or biological father raping his own daughter and then you ask that child to do an abortion. I am not talking to men who are not doing that but I am talking to abusers. I am saying that abusers should desist from doing that. How do you feel engaging in a sexual encounter with a young child? Young girls are falling pregnant because they are being abused by their own relatives and you find a father abusing his own daughter or a brother to the father abusing these young girls.      

          The mother-in-law will take that small girl as a daughter-in-law, which taints us as women. It is just that during that particular time, we did not know what should be done and where to go. Right now because we know, if I see such a thing happening, I go and report the case to the police, especially the case where this man was raising a three-month old baby by its neck. This reminds us that as we commemorate the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence, let us value these days. Let us work together to report abuse whether it is abuse by the in-laws.

          There are some mothers-in-law who abuse their daughters-in-law and you find that the husband might be having a close relationship with his wife and you find the brothers to the husband or the aunties abusing that woman. A happy daughter-in-law can be seen and it is evident but abuse is not right. Denying me my rights is not right, it is abuse. So let us not abuse each other as women especially for mothers- in-law. Let us treat our daughters-in-law well. With these few words, I would like to thank you Mr. President.  When I went back home, I was told the story of such abuse and I was  told that that three-month old child was held by a neck, and we witnessed such abuse and even some children from the neighborhood were so affected. I thank you.

          +HON. SEN. A. DUBE: Thank you Mr. President for this opportunity so that I can also contribute to this motion which is quite pertinent which has been moved by Hon. Sen. Chimbudzi, and seconded by Hon. Sen. Shumba. It is a very important motion on the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence. There are abuses all over and even throughout the world. There is a campaign all over the world that this abuse is continuing to increase. As a woman at home, you may also abuse a man – asking the man to cook and attend to the children.

          This is what we are talking about and that should come to a stop. We should campaign against that. Strong campaigns should be done so that we stop this abuse. Even at home, a mother-in-law can abuse a daughter-in-law. That abuse is a violation of rights. Gender Based Violence is all over even at work, people are being abused by their bosses. That should come to a stop. There is a lot that is happening and we have a higher population of women and they are being abused. Every day in the Press, we read of females being killed by males. Things like this happen and you find a male calling a woman in an abusive way and they end up killing them. There is so much abuse and women are not resting at home.

          When a man fails to get some money for beer, he will victimise the woman and when food runs out, again the woman is abused while it is the man who should fend for the family. When the man has money, he calls the woman to cook for him even late at night. The numbers of women being abused is rising and there is no rest for them. When a woman is tired, the male will say I require you to come to me and that is abuse which is unlawful. When a woman is tired, she cannot perform her conjugal rights, so because of lobola, the women are abused for that in front of their children.  The children will end up being traumatised and as a result, these children will fail at school.  These abuses affect the children’s performance at school. 

          Women also abuse men and that should come to a stop as well. There should be a deterrent sentence for such people who conduct themselves in that way so that others will learn that abuse is not good.  It causes the victims to be depressed.  At Engutsheni, you find that the number of girl inmates there is increasing, for some of them, it is out of poverty and others, it is abuse.

          Young children are being raped Mr. President. In some places, after abuse they are not allowed to report.  One child approached us when we were in a group; the grandmother was there and the girl was bleeding.  They looked for the young men but the granny did not like it.  It is understood that another 18-year old boy also abused this child and the granny said they had solved that amicably.

          Mr. President, the children are being abused at home, the matters are solved communally at home and the child ends up depressed and traumatised on seeing that abuser.  In the law, if a child is abused by a relative, that relative must be arrested so that we put a stop to this.  We do not talk when violation of rights has happened and the future has been disturbed.  Such people will encourage such behaviours, for instance mothers and grannies should also be prosecuted. 

          Members of Parliament and Senators should conscientise our people; we should not wait for the 16 days of activism to conscientise our people as this is an annual event.  We should continuously remind each other, people are being killed and burnt, and we have never heard of such; this is taboo.  The police now have the Victim Friendly Units but we request that these units be properly educated on customer care so that they can handle such cases ethically.

There are cases where a victim approached the Police Victim Friendly Unit and the officers were aggressive.  Such officers need to be retrained so that they are victim friendly.  Because of this aggressiveness, the victims end up being afraid of the police and they will not disclose everything that would have happened.  So, these police officers should have a proper training on how to handle victims. 

This is a very important motion Mr. President. Every day in the press we read about people being abused.  In this country, even in political parties, women are being abused.  There are situations where people are of the same rank but when you are a woman and you are of the same rank with males, they will exclude you from the discussions. That is abuse of women because the males will simply be looking down upon women.  When it comes to political campaigns, these women are the ones who will be at the forefront.  Even the males who are of a lower rank look down upon those women of higher ranks.   In political parties, people should also be conscientised to respect women.  We should have equal rights at work and home as well.

When we conscientise each other, we must always include the Almighty God in these activities.  There is now an evil spirit hovering around the world.  What is happening is not normal, women are being killed and burnt and the children end up in depressive moods.  Therefore, God should be involved in these activities of conscientising and bringing a stop to all these abuses.  The First Lady has had prayers for this nation and she should continuously do so in order to liberate us from the devil. 

It is the devil who causes people to be murdered in that way, we need prayers.  We can do campaigns and conscientise people but we really need God’s intervention on these matters so that the truth can be brought forward and the devil will be shamed. This motion urges us to contribute because we hear these problems are all over the world.  People are being stoned to death and so on around the world.   I thank you.

*HON. SEN. CHIEF MAKUMBE: Thank you Mr. President for giving me the opportunity to contribute to this debate regarding gender based violence.  Gender based violence is not only about women but it is happening to men also. It is not a good thing, whether it is being perpetrated on a man or woman. This means that our culture is under attack. Our culture does not support violence. It does not support the use of axes and knobkerries on women. God created a man first, then he also created a woman so that men and women should love each other and they procreate, and because of that it is important to value and respect a woman.

          As a father, I have four daughters and I have never beaten up my daughters because I know that they have rights as girls, the rights to be brought up properly. When the time comes for me to have a son-in-law, I would tell the son-in-law that I have never beaten up these girls and giving me lobola does not give you the right to beat up my girl child because this is a person who can hear and understand when you talk to her. We find men beating up women, this is bad. We also find women who beat up men.  Recently in Featherstone, there is a woman who stabbed her husband for spending the night away from home. When the husband was asked where he was coming from, before responding he was stabbed to death. Domestic violence is just not right, whether it is being perpetuated by a woman or a man.

          Some men are abused. Some are dragged by their collars when they fail to provide for their families. Some are being abused emotionally while others are committing suicide. Violence is not just physical but emotional and verbal as well. Men fear discrimination to a point that when they are abused, they cannot talk about it and report it. Some are suffering in silence. There are some young children who are abused by teachers. The advantage that we have is that news is being distributed through social media.  Some domestic workers are abusing children they look after. That is abuse. Where have our values and norms gone to? People go to church every Sunday and share the Bible but our culture is only shared in a few rare cases. There is no platform where people are being taught their culture yet culture is important because it teaches people to be responsible. It does not encourage violence at all. This is happening because our culture is under attack.

          We need to correct that notion so that in schools, the curriculum should be having aspects of gender based violence as a subject because both girls and boys are going to be married at one point and they need to understand that there is no need for abusing each other. They need to understand what should be done. Sometimes you find people being poisoned, some hire people to go and kill their spouses. Violence is not encouraged, whether it is being perpetuated against a woman or man. It is not part of our culture as Zimbabweans.

          Right now, we have the Marriages Bill and some women are saying we do not need to worry about lobola because it commodifies women. Using that to perpetuate violence is not right. Our culture is under attack. Let us defend our identity as a people so that we understand where we come from and why it is important for us to be here now. We do not need to copy other people. Some say that you need to know the confines of your environment and identify the good things that are found in our culture. When we were growing up, we used to swim together with young girls. At times we would share the same room but nothing would happen. Where did we go wrong? In a rural set up, a niece can be left with her uncle but nowadays you cannot leave your daughter with your relative because the vulnerability of that child is at stake. There is no respect for anyone’s rights. This violence, especially in urban areas is being perpetuated by people with guns who shoot each other.

          Recently, the social media was awash with a story of a man of God who abused a woman. This is the erosion of our social fabric. We find people extorting each other or participating in corrupt activities. This is not right. A woman has her rights. When the domestic violence policies were being formulated, the former Vice President Mrs. Mujuru used to say that it is important to understand the dynamics of relationships. Men need to love their wives instead of victimising and threatening them. Women should not fear their husbands. When you are feared as a man, there is something wrong with you. Children have rights too. What culture are we inculcating in our children? We want people who know that we are black people and as black people, your child would be married to the Chimbudzi family of which good cultural values should be inculcated into that child so that when she gets married she would understand the dynamics of marriage.

          Some families do not have anyone who supports them. We need to understand that some children were brought up by other children. They did not have adults to look after them. Some were brought up by guardians like grandparents and this results in them not being groomed well. As Parliament, we need to think about that.

          The other thing that I want to talk about is we need to tell each other the truth in life. The truth does not destroy a relationship but it makes us to live together in harmony. We need to accept the truth.  What happens is that sometimes people live their lives in complicated relationships.  Sometimes you might end up wondering whether the children in your family are yours or not.  That is why our culture says that you should marry someone who you know and you know their family because some marriages are now marriages of convenience.  There is no longer love. 

These are the few words that I have.  I do not want to defend myself as a man, but love is between two people.  Let us love each other.  Let us not beat each other.  Respect your wife, respect your husband and do not be an abuser of your children because they have their rights.  I am a champion in Manicaland because I say 18 years plus.  You cannot marry an underage girl and there should be consent.  That is found also in the Marriages Bill.  At 16 years, a girl can date, she is not allowed to get married but at 18 she can get married.  So what are we saying in between 16 and 18?  What will happen if a girl dates at 16?  That is food for thought.  I thank you Mr. President.

THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  I would like to remind Senators to put your phones on silent or better still switch them off.

*HON. SEN. FEMAI:  Thank you Mr. President.  I stand up with passion.  I am passionate because of the reports of violence that we get which are being perpetrated against women and the abuse that is happening even among women.  So I wanted to debate regarding the motion that was moved by Hon. Sen. Chimbuzi regarding gender based violence. 

Abuse is in various forms, Mr. President.  There are women who abuse each other.  Some know that this man is married but despite knowing that he is a husband to someone, they seduce that man.  They entice that man, enticing a man until he knows that he is being enticed.  This is abuse.  She is abusing the wife to that man and the children of that man who end up knowing that if the woman knows a certain neighbour is doing that to her husband, this is really difficult for her.

These are issues that are difficult when we talk about gender based violence where you find people tormenting other families.  This was not happening in the past.  When you met a married woman, you would accord her respect.  You would give her space.  Based on our culture, she would greet you without looking into your eyes.  What if you decide to be naughty using facial expressions?  So this was not permitted by our culture.  When meeting a woman, you would just greet her and she would also greet you, but you did not maintain eye contact.

These were laws that were meant to make sure that there is no violence among families because this will end up affecting both families.  Some would know that this man is married, but she wants to go there.  She wants to be married to a man who is already married, who has his own family, who has children that are growing up.  Now this might be a girl who is only 18 years old, who is going to a man who is old enough to be her father.  This affects the children in that marriage. 

Some abuse their men.  I heard the Chief talking about this form of abuse.  It is as if we shared notes.  We are keeping quiet but as I stand here, I have also suffered abuse, being abused by women.  Whether it is at home or other women, women are perpetrators of abuse also.  Our legs are now painful because of age, when you come across a woman, some would start acting at you and you end up wondering whether she is just passing by.  She seduces you until you approach her.  That is also abuse because once I fall into that trap, it means that my marriage begins to suffer. 

This is happening, Mr. President.  There is no proper cultural teaching because there is a demarcation between rural and urban because in rural areas, some are being raped and in towns some are being paid off.  Some are raped but some suffer abuse in a different form using money.  This violates women. 

We also have cases of men.  I cannot say men are good compared to women because, Mr. President, if children who are in this country are being registered so that it is determined whether they are from the first wife, second wife or the third wife, you discover that children from the first marriage are fewer than children from out of wedlock; this is abuse to the first marriage.  His Excellency the President said that the First Lady has been talking about abuse of young children through her platform which is meant to teach young people to be responsible. You find that people after being taught, especially those of the apostolic sect in Marange, about values in relationship, you will find an old man with white beard marrying a girl aged nine.   Senior citizens will be exchanging young girls. I have witnessed deaths three times.  The girls will die giving birth.  These sects do not allow the young girls to go to maternity hospitals but they go to their local shrines.  You will find the young girl crying as if she is the one who has just been born yet it will be her giving birth because of her age.  Surprisingly, the old man will be seated by the door waiting to see and hear the cry of the new born baby to a mother of such a tender age.   In most cases, these young girls will not make it during child birth, the girls die and are buried in those shrines.

          What kind of abuse is that, where you will find an old man forcing a small child to engage in sexual intercourse with him?  I would like to thank Hon. Sen. Chimbudzi for raising this motion.  If it were possible, I would say men who do that should be castrated but castration is quite severe because removing a male’s manhood is also abuse.  If a person looks for lost cattle, when you meet someone in the streets, they will say you are looking for your oxen, it only shows how important manhood is.  Those who marry young girls must be given deterrent sentences. We must not castrate their manhood but they should be incarcerated with their manhood and be given very harsh sentences. We must visit the apostolic sects and teach them not to abuse young girls.  It is only a mother who can protect her child from such behaviour.

          The other form of abuse is between women and women.  Women throw the ball to the men saying that we hinder them from occupying top positions.  I must say that we must tell each other the truth here as what the Chief encouraged us to do.  As I stand here, I was voted for by women. If I want to win, I will just say ‘madzimai woyee!’ and they will vote for me.  If a woman stands up and says the same thing, you will find other fellow women saying ‘hure’.  If we tell each other the truth, it is good. Women fight against each other, if there are eight people, eight females and one male and you ask for leadership, all the women will point at a man that he is the only one suitable. They will not vote for their fellow women no matter how qualified and educated they are.  They do not want another woman to take up that position.  I am appealing that women in this abuse discourse unite and work together to end all this discrimination against women. 

          In the past, we did not hear many cases of gender violence because women were respectful to their husbands.  They humbled themselves before their men.  When slapped, she did not show attitudes, she would continue with her matrimonial duties as if nothing happened. Nowadays when there is no cooking oil in the home, you will discover that when the man arrives, if he asks why the wife did not use cooking oil to cook relish, the wife would reply that - take that bottle of beer that you are holding and pour it in your plate of sadza to make it cooking oil. If the husband brings beer instead of cooking oil, instead of telling the man that there is no cooking oil, you will find the woman insulting the man that you brought alcohol instead of cooking oil.  The husband might be surprised, may be the woman will not have communicated that there is no cooking oil.  Another example is that the man will complain that the children are disrespecting the husband and the wife will say ‘are they your children’, and the man will retaliate physically choking the woman because of her response.

          This makes the husband to be emotional.  I witnessed a certain couple; the man got hints from the neighbourhood that a certain man was coming to his home in his absence.  One day he pretended to go to work and came back, found the boyfriend in the house, he confronted the boyfriend and he was beaten up.  When the woman came out, she started insulting the husband saying, why did you confront him when you know that you are a useless man? There is nothing that you can do, you do not even have children.’ The husband went into the house and took all the children and threw them out.  He killed his own children because of infidelity and the abusive words that were said after infidelity.  So, after that confrontation, what if she had been quiet? 

Mr. President, despite all the things that I have said which have truth, I still support that there should not be abuse of women, that is where I stand. I do not want women to be abused.  I do not abuse my wife in my house. I do not insult her, but we call each other ‘honey’.  When you come to our place, you do not even know who is ‘honey’, whether it is me or my wife.  We do not insult each other but we consult each other.

          HON. NYATHI:  I would like to thank you Mr. President for giving me the opportunity to say the few words, contributing to the motion that was moved by Hon. Sen. Chimbudzi.  A woman is a very important person in this country.  What I know concerning a woman is that when a woman is married and then the husband passes on, the woman remains behind that marriage.  Is it good to axe someone because if you find someone taking a weapon to beat up a woman, it is not right.  A woman should be respected, there is nothing that can be done in this world without the involvement of women. 

Right now, we have our First Lady who is moving around the country; she is a woman, she understands, she has got that maternal instinct, she knows that she has to do it and if she does not, there is no one who can do it.  We have men but what I know is that when two people are in love, when they meet and there is attraction between the two, when the man proposes to the woman, what then goes wrong when you find a man killing his own wife and all children?  This is the same person that you propose love to and you declare that you love her.  So, in marriage and in all the domestic violence that is happening, there are some people who are sent to go to approach the woman’s family. There is a traditional process but why is it that at the end of the day you will find a man perpetuating those ills, instead of going back to the traditional process and telling a relative that we are having a problem with my wife. Mr. President, there are a lot of domestic issues that are happening. There were some women who would say; I will not leave my marriage, I want to stay looking after my children.’  When a woman experiences problems, she will say I will not leave. It is different from a man because they know that when they leave their children might end up being looked after by other people.

So as an individual, I am saying that gender based violence is an issue that we have discussed. This issue has been discussed several times.  Mr. President, I believe that what should be done should be done as fast as possible because the violence is happening in different areas, even at workplaces and on our roads. You find that a driver will be over-speeding, he is only interested in money. At times you find that when an accident occurs, the driver survives but people end up suffering.  The Senate and the National Assembly need to come together and make sure that we address these issues so that we have punitive laws which are going to deter bad practices like gender based violence. You find young girls and women suffering from abuses which are mostly being perpetuated by men.  In other cases you find that people who abuse children are not strangers but these are family members Mr. President.  This is happening, we need to be serious, and we need to work together concerning this war against gender based violence because we do not know where we are going and how this is going to end. 

Mr. President, you find that police officers are also contributing and perpetuating gender based violence.  It is important that we promulgate laws that are tangible, that are going to protect the people so that we have a conducive environment in the country.  Mr. President, it does not matter where we are and which environment we are operating in, whether it is in schools or not.  Even when people are sober, we need to look at these issues so that we protect every citizen of this country so that such issues are addressed.  Things are not right out there.  With those few words, I thank you.

HON. SEN. CHIMBUDZI:  I move that the debate do now adjourn.

HON. SEN. DUBE: I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Wednesday, 24th November, 2021.

MOTION

PRESIDENTIAL SPEECH: DEBATE ON ADDRESS

          Fourth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion in reply to the Presidential Speech.

          Question again proposed.

          HON. SEN. KAMBIZI: Thank you Mr. President. I move that the debate do now adjourn.

          HON. SEN. MATHUTHU: I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume: Wednesday, 24th November, 2021

MOTION

REPORT OF THE VIRTUAL 49TH PLENARY ASSEMBLY SESSION OF THE SADC PARLIAMENTARY FORUM 

Fifth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the Report of the 49th Plenary Assembly Session of the SADC-Parliamentary Forum held virtually from 25th to 27th June, 2021.

          Question again proposed.

          HON. SEN. MATHUTHU: Thank you Mr. President. I move that the debate do now adjourn.

          HON. SEN. TONGOGARA: I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume: Wednesday, 24th November, 2021

MOTION

CONSTRUCTION, UPGRADING AND REHABILITATION OF THE ROAD NETWORK IN THE COUNTRY

          Sixth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the importance of a sound road network.    

Question again proposed.

          *HON. SEN. CHIFAMBA: Thank you Mr. President for the motion that was raised by Hon. Sen. Mabika regarding our roads. Let me thank the President who spoke about the road network because this is a challenge that is found in our country. Some roads are not in good condition because when you move around in urban centres, you cannot even see where the road was tarred but you see only potholes. You find cars stopping because they will be affected by these potholes. I am saying that councils should work together with Government in fixing these roads that are found in urban centres.

          In rural areas, there are some roads which are in a bad state and because of the rain season, some children fail to go to school because there are no bridges where they can cross rivers. Sometimes they spend two or three days without going to school waiting for the water levels to subside. This should be corrected because some children might attempt to cross rivers. I would also request that the Harare-Mutare Road dualisation programme should commence because there are a lot of cars which use that road enroute to Mozambique from South Africa, Zambia and other countries.

          Sometimes late at night, you find haulage trucks being ten or so and this leads to congestion along the highway. So, the dualisation of that road is quite crucial so that our haulage trucks would be able to discharge their duties properly because most of these haulage trucks would be drawing tankers and other loads. At times when driving along that road, you experience congestion on the highway. It is important for Government because during Hon. Minister Matiza’s time, this road was officially launched.       

          You would find that because this is quite a busy road which is being serviced by different countries enroute to Mozambique, it is important that it is dualised because we experience a lot of challenges when we use that road. I said in most cities the roads are in a bad state. Even in rural areas, it is important to tar such roads but it is important that the Harare/Nyamapanda Road is also rehabilitated because small roads which lead to different rural areas are also not in good shape.

          This affects haulage trucks of those who are in that business. Even when you have a sick relative who needs ambulance services, there are delays because ambulances cannot use such roads or they cannot speed in such roads. Such rural roads need to be rehabilitated because in some cases, some people are ferried by scotch-carts and some end up being sicker than they were taken from their homes. It is important to remind each other that different roads have not been repaired. This is going to benefit even those who use public transport because most schools in outlying areas is far, they are inaccessible by buses because of the state of our roads.  Some buses have decided not to ply such routes because they cite the state of the roads.  This is affecting schools. We went as a Committee to certain roads and were told that because of the state of roads, some motorists have stopped plying such routes. 

The Government should rehabilitate major roads and rural roads.  There are people who want to travel to remote areas to monitor different projects.  Sometimes they are forced not to do so because of the state of the roads.  Good roads are good for business; they are good because when you plan a trip to Harare or Murehwa, then you are able to travel nicely. I also appreciated that His Excellency the President is continually talking about these things.  I thank you.

          HON. SEN. MABIKA: I move that the debate do now adjourn.

          HON. SEN. A. DUBE: I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume: Wednesday, 24th November 2021.

MOTION

ENACTMENT OF LAWS THAT CULMINATE IN DETERRENT SENTENCES BEING METED OUT TO CULPRITS FOUND COMMITTING CRIMES THAT DAMAGE THE ENVIRONMENT

Seventh Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on grave and rapid environmental damage.

Question again proposed.

HON. SEN. MATHUTHU: I move that the debate do now adjourn.

HON. SEN. TONGOGARA: I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Wednesday, 24th November, 2021

MOTION

CONDOLENCES ON THE DEATH OF HON. SEN. REJOICE TIMIRE

          Eighth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the untimely death of Hon. Sen. Joice Timire.

Question again proposed.

          HON. SEN. MATHUTHU: I move that the debate do now adjourn.

          HON. SEN. MKWEBU: I second.

          Motion put agreed to.

Debate to resume: Wednesday, 24rd November, 2021

MOTION

ENACTMENT OF LEGISLATION THAT UPHOLDS THE RIGHTS AND WELFARE OF CHILDREN ACCOMPANYING INCARCERATED MOTHERS IN PRISONS

Ninth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on challenges faced by children with incarcerated mothers.

Question again proposed.

HON. SEN. MKWEBU: Thank you Mr. President for the opportunity.  I want to thank Hon. Sen. Chirongoma and the seconder for this motion about the women prisoners saving their prison terms with their children.  It is estimated that as at December 2017, more than 50 children were accompanying their mothers in prison.

Mr. President, children with an incarcerated parent are more than three times likely to have a problem of depression than similar children without an imprisoned parent and also they are likely to suffer from learning disabilities.

Mr. President, the increasing number of women offenders have left our Government faced with a dilemma on how to handle some challenges involving mothers with infants or pregnant mothers at the time of sentence.  It is a fact that these children have not committed a crime and as such, the Government has a special responsibility to protect rights of children.

Mr. President, according to findings, rightly observed that children of incarcerated parents are often ignored by the prison system and officials with their needs. Whereas our Government has taken steps to establish child friendly facilities such as nurseries within the prison structures, it is only available at Chikurubi and Marondera Open Prison, the brainchild of ZPCS patron, the First Lady Amai Mnangagwa.

          I urge the ZPCS to adopt child programming in budgeting in order to meet basic needs of such children. The Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services should develop and implement clear guidelines outlining the conditions that are appropriate for the admission of children with mothers in prison.

          I urge the Ministry of Justice to consider alternative sentencing options such as avoiding pre-trial detention and imposing non-custodial sentences or community services.  Parliament should review the Prisons Act to align it with international practice.

          The Ministry of Justice should consider parole to women with children in prisons. Government and other stakeholders should help incarcerated mothers with funding for them to start their projects which will help children. The initiative was launched at Whawha Prison by the Young Women for ED with the aim of helping incarcerated mothers to start projects in prison so that they become empowered to support their children.

          +HON. SEN. A. DUBE: Thank you Mr. President for affording me this opportunity to air my views on children who are incarcerated together with their parents. This is a very important motion that was brought by Hon. Sen. Chirongoma. It has to be noticed that some children that are brought up in the wrong way, because if we look at it, how people survive in prisons especially looking at the young children, they do not have a bright future. The children end up copying the way they were brought up and hence they are not brought up properly.  If you look at these children who are incarcerated together with their parents, you will find that most of them are very naughty because these are people who will be seeing what is happening in prison and they grow up with that.

          There is dirt in prisons and there are a lot of things that happen in prison and for these young children, they end up copying from that and embrace the bad things that happen in prison. Even when they are out of prison they end up doing bad things because they will have copied what was happening in prison and yet their mothers are the ones who will have committed the offences. Government should find other means of how these children can be treated. Maybe they can establish colleges so that children can be placed into colleges or the offender can be taken to prison and the child remains with the relatives.

          These children are brought up like orphans because they do not see love. They are not shown any love. They only see bad things that happen around them in prisons. We have heard that there are men who sodomise other men in prison; we understand that women also do the same and this is a bad thing. A person will end up doing that and that same spirit ends up getting into the children. So to me, this is a very important motion because it is not good that if a person is incarcerated they go to prison with a child because it is like incarcerating the child as well. If the child is amongst other prisoners, it is as if that child is a prisoner as well. The child ends up doing bad things even in future.

          We have to look at ways of how Government can do about these children because these children are prisoners as well. Let us find places where those children can be placed instead of being incarcerated with their mothers. They should be taken to crèches and other places where they can be kept, cared for by their relatives and taken by their mothers when they have been released from prison.

          As Members of Parliament, we must sit down and discuss to see what Government can do about these children who are being incarcerated for their parents’ offences because they did not commit any offences. Even when they are released you will find that they cannot get along with other children because they are used to being brought up in prison.  We need to help those children because they should not be brought up in such a bad way. I thank you.

          HON. SEN. MATHUTHU: I move that the debate do now adjourn.

HON. SEN. TONGOGARA:  I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume:  Wednesday, 24th November, 2021.

On the motion of HON. SEN. MATHUTHU seconded by HON. SEN. TONGOGARA, the Senate adjourned at Ten Minutes to Five o’clock p.m. 

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