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SENATE HANSARD 9 MARCH 2022 VOL 31 NO 26

PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Wednesday, 9th March, 2022

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

PRAYERS

(THE PRESIDENT OF SENATE in the Chair)

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

          HON. SEN. MUZENDA: I move that Orders of the Day, Numbers 1 and 2 be stood over until all the Orders of the Day have been disposed of.

          HON. SEN. MATHUTHU: I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

ABUSE OF DRUGS BY YOUTHS COUNTRYWIDE

          HON. SEN. A DUBE:  I move the motion standing in my name that:

          DISTURBED by the excessive and prevalent abuse of drugs by youths countrywide;

          NOTING the situation is exacerbated by the unemployment rate among youths who consequently end up spending most of their time idle and end up resorting to taking all sorts of drugs;

          CONCERNED that such abuse of drugs has devastating consequences on our future generations and the nation as a whole;

          NOW, THEREFORE, calls upon the government to:

  1.           put in place measures that will curb the abuse of drugs by youths through self-help projects so as to keep our youths fully occupied all the time;
  2.           set up rehabilitation centers and hospitals to assist our youths who are addicted to drugs to the extent of treating such abuse as a way of life;
  3.           legislate for stiffer penalties for the importation of those substances that give rise to incidents of drug abuse in the country.

HON. SEN. MKHWEBU: I second.

+HON. SEN. A DUBE:  Thank you Madam President for

Affording me the opportunity to debate my motion   that is looking at how the youths are suffering because of drugs.  The youths spend most of the time in groups and if you go around the locations, you will find them in groups of tens seated by the road side and they will be talking about drugs.  The way they will be talking is disrespectful because of the drugs.  The experts have said about 57% of the children are now affected by drugs.  Our children’s future has been spoilt as drugs are affecting them mentally.  Some of the children come from broken families while some children get everything but they are absconding from school just to take drugs.  They now want to spend most of their time under the influence of drugs and they are now taking it as if it is something good.

There are a lot of drugs such as marijuana, cough mixtures, alcohol and many different types of drugs.  Looking at the youth’s future, those are the people we expect to be future leaders.  They just think of drinking and getting high and have lost respect even for the elderly.  As an elderly person, I have noticed that tables have turned; it is now the other way.  It is us the elderly who are now supposed to show respect to them.  If you ask them why they are abusing drugs, you may end up being harmed.

 It is a very sad situation that these children are now attacking and harassing the elderly.  We are now very much afraid of them especially the 12 year olds going upwards.  They are the most dangerous ones and they are raping even the elderly people. 

          There is now chaos in the homes because parents and guardians can no longer reprimand these children.  In Tsholotsho, a 21-year old assaulted his mother and nearly plucked off her eyes.  That same child went on to attack his father and these parents could not do anything to him because they were afraid of him.

          There are a lot of problems in the homes and communities because of children who are taking drugs.  A lot of parents are now worried because the expectation was that the children are the ones who will be looking after us when we grow old, but they are becoming monsters and bullies.

          The Government has put in place measures to assist the youths but they are resisting.  All they want is to be drunk and be high all the time.  They get up early in the morning as if they are going to work.  By the time we wake up; they would have long gone to meet up with their friends to do mischief. 

          These drugs are now found everywhere, especially in the urban areas whereby you will see these youngsters seated by the roadsides and bridges getting under the influence of drugs, laughing and mocking the elderly passing by.

          The sad part of this issue of drug abuse is that there are people selling these drugs in their homes.  You find a little child aged five or more years being sent to buy these drugs at a certain house in the neighbourhood.  It is quite disturbing that they are selling these drugs to other people’s children, which I feel is also abuse. 

          Parents are now disgruntled; they do not know how to handle these youngsters; they are now calling us names.  If you try to rebuke them, they will call you names.  All the efforts and measures that the Government is trying to put in place are to no avail.   They do not want to work, they abscond from school and this is disastrous for their future.

          Madam President, we were hoping that these children be engaged in activities and projects where they will be will be kept busy.  It is our wish that they not be idle so that they abstain from drugs. 

          Furthermore, if these youngsters commit an offence and it is reported to the police, there should be a certain section of the law to cover that offence rather than dismissing them saying they are under age.  Again, as parents, we are also contributing because we cry foul that my child is under age and should not be taken to the police yet they would have broken the laws of the land.  Parents should let the law take its course on these children.

          If only we could have places where the children are taught on the effects of abusing drugs because at the end of the day, we are having a lot of mentally challenged people in the country.  If you take note of these mental institutions, you will notice that there are many youths at places like Ingutsheni and so forth.

          On the other hand, there should be rehabilitation centres to take care of the youths who would have abused drugs.  At these centres, there should be doctors and counsellors to assist them to recover from the addictions.

          We are more worried about our children who are taking drugs because they are now in a bad state. They do not think of anything else but all they care for is food and drugs.  If they get home and find no food, the parent or guardian will be assaulted for not cooking for them.

          The Government should put measures to prohibit drug trafficking from nearby countries.  These dangerous drugs should be banned from entering our nation.  Surprising enough, if we are to move in the urban suburbs, residents are fully aware of the households which sell dangerous drugs but they are afraid to whistle blow.

          Government should enact a law that a person who sells drugs to under aged children should be sentenced with a stiffer penalty.  We want parents who are responsible who can take care of the children.  Some of us are now old, we now look upon our children to take care of us in the future.  I thank you.

          *HON. SEN. MKHWEBU: Thank you Madam President for affording me this opportunity to second the motion that was brought by Sen. Dube.  This is a very touching motion about our children who are abusing drugs in the whole nation. Children are abusing drugs throughout the country of Zimbabwe. 

Madam President, we are expecting the Government to look into all hospitals in the country where these children who are abusing drugs can be treated.      

          We are hoping that Government can employ them because they do not have a bright future, they are always talking about using drugs.  Most of them are now sick, they do not even know what they are talking about.  They cannot speak properly, these children who are abusing drugs are suffering because you see them shaking early in the morning and you wonder why they will be shacking.  You will be wondering if they have been drinking beer or what.  These children cannot do anything now. 

We want Government to impose stiff penalties for those who are bringing drugs into the country in order to protect these young people.  We want children who have a bright future and children who are respectful.  These children need to be assisted and this has been said for a long time, especially with jobs.  They are always talking about drugs.  The President saw it fit that a board be set up to look into drug abuse by these youths.  There should be a board responsible for monitoring transmission of drugs and bringing down cases of drug abuse. 

The other thing Madam President is that these youths should work in mines but most of them are lazy and  cannot do anything but the President has been trying to get them into mining where they can work for themselves.  Madam President, I say drug abuse should come to an end in Zimbabwe.  People who are bringing in drugs should be given stiffer penalties.  I thank you.  

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

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Thursday, 10th March, 2022. 

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI):  Thank you Madam President, I move that we revert to Order of the Day, Number 1 on today’s Order Paper.

Motion put and agreed to.

SECOND READING

GUARDIANSHIP OF MINORS AMENDMENT BILL [H. B. 7A, 2019]

First Order read: Second Reading: Guardianship of Minors Amendment Bill [H B. 7A, 2019].

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI):  I rise to give the second reading of the Guardianship of Minors Amendment Bill.  As you are all aware, this week we are celebrating International Women’s Day.  It is very appropriate that I should bring before you this Bill, which is not only a Constitution alignment measure, but also an important measure for the advancement of women’s equality. 

Madam President, this Bill was crafted with Section 80 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.  This is the section that speaks of the rights of women;

-“Every woman has full and equal dignity of the person with men and this includes equal opportunities in political, economic and social activities. 

-Women have the same rights as men regarding the custody and guardianship of children, but an Act of Parliament may regulate how those rights are to be exercised.

All laws, customs, traditions and cultural practices that infringe the rights of women conferred by this Constitution are void to the extent of the infringement.”

Unlike Customary Law, our Roman Dutch Common Law makes a sharp distinction between the custody and the guardianship of the minor children of a marriage.  Custody of a child is the direct personal supervision and care of a child by its parent in the same household. Guardianship is the legal right of the parents to have control over and make decisions about the child’s health, religious upbringing, education, financial security and welfare needs.  If the parents split by separation or divorce, the general principle of the Common Law is that the mother retains the custody of the child while the father keeps the guardianship.

Before the new Constitution, this splitting of custody and guardianship caused many problems, especially for the divorced or separated woman custodial parent.  For example Madam President, the woman needed the permission of the father as the guardian before obtaining travel documents for the child but the father would not always be available or cooperative.  Even where the child needed to undergo surgery for potentially life-threatening conditions, the mother either had to seek the leave of the father or because of the urgency of the case, she might allow the medial procedure to proceed without the leave of the father.  In the latter case Madam President, she could in principle be legally liable to the father for not getting his permission, especially if the operation did not go well.  Under the Bill, it is now proposed that during the subsistence of a marriage, there must be equality of rights between the parents with respect to the custody or guardianship of the children.  If the marriage fails, the custodial parent (who can either be the mother or the father, but is usually the mother) also has the guardianship of the child. It is only fair, after all, that the parent who must daily supervise the child personally, should also have charge of the guardianship rights over it.

However, the Bill does not deprive the non-custodial parents entirely of his or her guardianship rights, if he or she can persuade a court of law that he or she must have some superintendence over the child’s educational, health or other needs.  The advantage of the approach is that a court of law will not in general be sympathetic to such a petition unless the non-custodial parent can demonstrate some material participation in the child’s life, such as providing sustenance and support for the child by way of maintenance order.

Let me conclude by adding that the Common Law position that the mother of a child born out of wedlock has both the custody and guardianship of a child is unchanged. However, here again, if the biological father of the child can demonstrate that he is contributing to the child’s welfare in a practical way, the principle of equality enshrined by Section 80 of the Constitution and this Bill may permit a court of law to give him some share in the child’s guardianship.

In conclusion, I urge you Hon. Members to pass this law and in doing so, contribute to equalising the rights of women and men, which is a thing long overdue.

HON. SEN. CHIEF CHARUMBIRA: Thank you Madam President.  I want to thank the Hon. Minister for the Bill.  I rise to say, it is an obvious Bill seeking to achieve the obvious and agreed…

THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: You are not connected Hon. Chief.

HON. SEN. CHIEF CHARUMBIRA: Thank you Madam President, thank you Hon. Minister.  I rise to say the Bill is seeking us to pass a law whose spirit all of us will agree, is very much agreeable to all of us.  I do not see us differing with his views.  So, I just rose to say, Hon. Senators, this is a good law, let us pass it, thank you.

*HON. SEN. KOMICHI: Thank you Madam President.  I would also like to thank the Hon. Minister.  Like what Hon. Sen. Chief Charumbira said, this Bill speaks to what is supposed to be done regarding people’s livelihoods.  A mother is responsible for giving life to a child and from the point of conception to the time of birth, after nine months to the time when that child becomes an adult; it is the mother’s responsibility.

When we look at what happens in life like getting employed, putting on good clothes and all the things that form a person, the mother is responsible for all that.  When we look at life in general, you discover that a woman or the mother is responsible for feeding a child.  Even for me to be who I am today, if I am a good person, it is because of my mother and if I am a bad person in society, it is also because of the socialisation that I got from the mother.  The father is not there most of the times, he goes to the beer hall or to work, comes back late at night but the mother is responsible for the upbringing of their child.

You will discover that when a person is growing up, even from a tender age, a child has a very close relationship with his/her mother.  Every child is more comfortable with their mother than with the father.  When a child finds the father and the mother having differences, this affects the child.  Of course the father is responsible for procreation but let us not forget the process of conception, pregnancy and child birth.  We hear that the worst pain that a person can face is giving birth to a child.  The bond that is formed between the mother and a child at birth is a serious bond, that is why you discover that it is difficult for a woman to dissociate from their child because there is such a divine bond.

The behaviour we see in mothers, whether it is in animals like livestock, elephants, any other animal or human being, the way we treat our children is the same.  There is no male animal which takes their offspring with them.  You will discover that whether it is a human or an animal, the relationship between the offspring and their mother is the same.  So, Hon. Minister, this law speaks to extreme situations where a mother does not keep or look after their children unless there is a mental illness.  It is not because there is no food but if that is the case, then as a man, you have to provide.  Poverty is not an issue; it cannot separate the mother and a child.  There is no poverty between them but there is a bond that was formed at birth.  There is this common adage which says that ‘you can judge by the pain that a mother experienced at child birth.’  No matter how much pain they go through, at child birth, they do not shed tears.  So, we need to respect that.

However, I see a lot of men, arguing with their wives.  We do not have to accept such a situation; may we allow the mothers to bring up their children.  Every child belongs to the mother.  There is need for a DNA but the mother does not need it but a man needs it unless if there is swapping of babies at the hospital.  However, the reality in society, in our community is that the mother owns or is responsible for their children.  The disputed identity is on the mother, so a child should be given their mothers’ surname.  There is no doubt in that.  So I support this Bill Hon. Minister.  We can debate, we can say a lot but I support the Bill Hon. Minister so that our children grow up properly.  I thank you.

*HON. SEN. RWAMBIWA: Thank you Madam President. I do not have much to say but I would like to thank and appreciate my fellow senators who supported this Bill and understand the importance of a mother. Indeed, it is important to understand that because a mother is very important. It is definite that as a woman, I am the mother. Hon. Minister, we support this Bill. I thank you.

+HON. SEN. A. DUBE: Thank you Madam President for affording me this opportunity. I would like to thank the Minister for bringing this Bill. No one can challenge or dispute this Bill. As Zimbabwe, we are now at a certain level. We know that a woman is important. In the past, a woman used to be just a slave but now, things have changed. A country that respects women is also respected in heaven. As women, we support this Bill and we receive it with both hands. We say women build homes and this is what we want. In the past, we used to be treated like slaves. I thank you.

*HON. SEN. DR. PARIRENYATWA: I would like to thank the Hon. Minister for bringing this Bill to the august House, which I believe is a good Bill which speaks to the development of women. The Bill talks about guardianship and custody. Looking at these two words, they look similar but I believe the Hon. Minister, upon summarising, will clarify the difference between the two but it is important that we understand that these were brought together because this should be done in the best interest of the child. He also said that it might be he/she but women and everyone else understand that the woman is better placed to look after children but guardianship and custodianship are a bit similar. You can be a guardian without being the parent but I believe that custodianship should be given to biological children. It is my plea that the Hon. Minister clarifies the difference so that when we leave this House, we are clear and understand the difference. With these few words Madam President, I thank you very much.

+HON. SEN. M. MPOFU: Thank you Madam President for affording me this opportunity. I would like to thank the Minister for bringing this Bill and for recognising how important a woman is in the country of Zimbabwe. A child is a mother’s child because a mother is the one who knows the real father of the child. If a child is a Phiri, it is the mother who knows that the child is a Phiri not a Ndlovu. I would like to thank the Minister for recognising us as women and how important women are in the country of Zimbabwe. I would like to thank you for allowing women to sign the papers if a child is not well instead of waiting for the father who is in the bar or bottle store. This is not a small issue because a woman is the one who gives birth. The father of the child only comes to congratulate the birth of the child. Thank you for respecting and keep respecting us even in future.

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Thank you Madam President. I want to thank the Hon. Senators for the support they have given to the Bill. I concur with what Hon. Senators have said.

*May you please allow me Madam President to respond to what has been raised by Hon. Sen. Dr. Parirenyatwa that this Bill came in such a way that when I started speaking, I said that yesterday we were commemorating the International Women’s Day.

Indeed, what Hon. Sen. Chief Charumbira and Hon. Sen. Komichi said that a woman is very important is because they play a crucial role in the raising of children. When children are sick, they are with them. However, within the confines of the law in a nuclear family, there were rights which were ascribed to the father. I remember when my child wanted to take a passport, the mother was told that if they did not go to the Passport Office then the child was not going to get a passport. This is the difference in custody. Custody means the one who lives with children whilst guardianship speaks to the right to make decisions which determine where the child would get treatment, whether they will cross the borders, or whether they will get passports. When women want to take passports or cross the borders, they are told to get affidavits from their husbands or the father of the children yet some men might not be interested in that child.

When I started speaking I said that you will discover that at times when a child wants to be operated on and the man is not there, at the end of the day the mother signs that the child be operated.  You will be surprised when the man comes to say that she gave consent so that the child dies.  That is why we are saying that the rights between the men and women should be equal.  If the mother has custody, when I decide to go to court as a man – I need to stand up for what I am doing for that child so that we have equal rights with the person who has custody.

I would like to thank Hon. Senators for the support that you have given to this Bill because it will ensure that our children grow up in a conducive environment.  This is what we are trying to fix through this Bill.  I now move that the Bill be read a second time.

Motion put and agreed to.

Bill read a second time.

Committee Stage:  With leave, forthwith.

COMMITTEE STAGE

GUARDIANSHIP OF MINORS AMENDMENT BILL [H.B.7A, 2019]

House in Committee.

Clauses 1 to 3 put and agreed to.

House resumed.

          Bill reported without amendments.

Third Reading: With leave, forthwith.

THIRD READING

GUARDIANSHIP OF MINORS AMENDMENT BILL [H.B.7A, 2019]

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Mr. Speaker Sir, I now move that the Bill be read the third time.

Motion put and agreed to.

Bill read the third time.

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI):I would like to thank Hon. Senators for passing such a progressive Bill, especially this week where we are celebrating our mothers.  It is a milestone that we have managed to do a progressive thing. 

On the motion of THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI), the House adjourned at Half past Three o’clock p.m.

 

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