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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 16 AUGUST 2016 VOL 42 NO 81

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PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Tuesday, 16th August, 2016

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

PRAYERS

(THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER in the Chair)

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF HIGHER AND TERTIARY EDUCATION, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT (HON. DR. GANDAWA):  I move that Orders of the Day, Numbers 1 to 3 be stood over until the rest of the Orders of the Day have been disposed of.

Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

PRESIDENTIAL SPEECH:  DEBATE ON ADDRESS

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

Question again proposed. 

HON. MUTOMBA:  Thank you Madam Speaker for giving me the opportunity to wind up this very important motion.  May I take this opportunity to thank all the Hon. Members who contributed.  May I also thank all those Hon. Members who did not contribute but were paying attention to those Hon. Members who were debating. 

Madam Speaker, the legislative agenda that was set by the President contained more than 21 Bills.  Almost half of those Bill were supposed to address the challenges that we are facing within the country’s economy.  Unfortunately, very few of those Bills saw the door to this Parliament.  I am a bit concerned that it would appear to me that the triangular legislative system that we do have in the country is not supportive of each other, that is the Executive, the Judiciary and this House.  One pillar of this triangular legislative system is not committed.  The attitude is that they seem not to care.  This House has been kept disengaged.  We had a lot of high expectations on seeing these Bills which were supposed to address the economic challenges that we are facing as a country.   I am now imploring you Madam Speaker, that you have to do something about the situation.  The electorate is expecting quite a lot from us to improve the economic environment besetting in the country.  I do not know how you are going to do it Madam Speaker.  This scenario has to change – [HON. MEMBERS:  Inaudible interjections.] –

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Order Hon. Members.  Please lower your voices.

HON. MUTOMBA:    I know you have been addressing this issue on numerous forums unfortunately, it would appear that some other people seem not to be listening and are giving us deaf ears but I implore you Madam Speaker to do something about this. We need to change because it is us who are supposed to craft laws that improve the economic environment of this nation.  Now, our President wanted 21 Bills to come to this House but just a few have come and it would appear to me that the Executive are actually …

          THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:   Order, order.  Hon. Members, I know that it has been quite a long time before seeing each other but we cannot have meetings in this House.  We want to hear what is being said by the Hon. Member.

          HON. MUTOMBA: Thank you Madam Speaker.  It would appear to me that the President is taking his own direction because he would want things to improve, but the managers are actually taking their own route.  Anyway Madam Speaker, like I said earlier on, I am only imploring you to do something. Could I now move for the adoption of this very important motion although this House did not do justice to it.  I thank you.

Motion put that a respectful address be presented to the President of Zimbabwe as follows:-

May it please you, your Excellency, the President:

We, the Members of the Parliament of Zimbabwe, desire to express our loyalty to Zimbabwe and beg leave to offer our respectful thanks for the speech, which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.

Motion put and adopted.

MOTION

FIRST REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON WOMEN AFFAIRS, GENDER AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT ON THE HIGH PREVALENCE OF CHILD MARRIAGES IN MASHONALAND CENTRAL PROVINCE

 

          HON. NYAMUPINGA: Madam Speaker, I move the motion standing in my name that: this House takes note of the First Report of the Portfolio Committee on Women’s affairs, Gender and Community Development on the high prevalence of child marriages in Mashonaland Central Province.

HON. NYANHONGO:  I second.

HON. NYAMUPINGA:

  • INTRODUCTION

Madam Speaker, I am giving a report on the visit that was taken by your Committee on Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development in Mashonaland Central.  

Studies indicate that girls who marry later and delay pregnancy increase their chances of staying healthier, better their education and build a better life for themselves and their families. However, girls that get married at a young age face a number of challenges such as complications during pregnancy and childbirth, leading to conditions of fistula. From the 29th of May 2016 to 3rd June 2016, the Committee on Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development conducted public hearings in Mashonaland Central Province, pursuant to the need to understand the challenges posed by early child marriages.  This report provides the committee's major observations, findings, conclusions and recommendations.

2.0    OBJECTIVES

The Committee's public hearings were guided by the following objectives:

  • To assess the extent of child marriages in Mashonaland Central Province;
  • To gather the views and opinions from the members of the public on the factors promoting child marriages in the province; and
  • To gather views of communities on measures that may be adopted to curb the high incidences of child marriages in Mashonaland Central.

3.0    METHODOLOGY

The Committee held oral evidence sessions with stakeholders such as Plan International and Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development. A workshop was also held with the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development and further submissions were made to the Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development Committee on the situation of child marriages in all the provinces in Zimbabwe.  The Committee also carried out a fact finding mission to Mashonaland Central Province on the high prevalence of child marriages and the factors and conditions that drive this harmful practice.

4.0    BACKGROUND

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) defines child marriage as “a formal marriage or union before 18 years of age” (UNICEF, 2014). There are International Human Rights instruments that have been put in place in relation to the problem of early marriage. The key ones are Universal Declaration of Human Rights; Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade, and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery; Convention on Consent to Marriage, Minimum Age for Marriage and Registration of Marriages; International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), and the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the Convention for the Suppression of the Trafficking in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prosecution of Others.

Early marriages are a big threat to the human rights and well-being of children. According to UNICEF, an estimated 14 million girls between the ages of 15 and 19 give birth each year (UNICEF, 2014) They are twice more likely to die during pregnancy or childbirth than women in their 20’s. Child marriage denies the young an opportunity to grow and empower themselves. It challenges the basic right of these children to education, health, protection and development. The girls are forced into it a lot more in comparison to their male counterparts and impacts girls with more intensity. Child marriage has many causes: cultural, social, economic and religious. In many cases, a mixture of these causes result in the dragging of children in to marriages without their consent. Girls from poor households are twice more likely to be married early than the girls from higher income groups.

Zimbabwe is one of the countries in the world with high cases of child marriages. The Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (2014) indicates that the proportion of women who were married before the age of 15 is more than that of men. That is, 5% of women and 0.3% of men aged 15-49years were first married or in union before age 15. Also, 1 in 3 women and less than 1 in 20 (3.7%) of men aged 20-49 were first married or in union before age of 18. As of 2014, 32.8% of women between 20-49 years were married before age of 18. This is extremely high, worrisome, and exposes young women to the risk of unintended pregnancies, unsafe abortions and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. 

According to United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), 31% of girls are married before the age of 18 in Zimbabwe. According to the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (2014), 39 % of the women in rural areas aged 20-49 years currently in marriage or union were married before the age of 18, compared to 21% in urban areas. 

According to the Zimbabwe Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (2014), Mashonaland Central tops on the list of provinces with the highest number of cases of child marriages with 50% of the marriages involving minors; followed by Mashonaland West with 42%; Masvingo 39%; Mashonaland East 36%; Midlands 31%; Manicaland 30%; Matebeleland North 27%; Harare 19%; and Matebeleland South 18%. Thus, Zimbabwe is among the 41 countries in the world with many cases involving minors being forced into marriages by their parents or guardians.

There are existing gaps in marriage laws that continue to promote child marriages as outlined below;

  • The Customary Marriages Act Chapter 5:07 has no age limit for marriage.
  • The Marriage Act Chapter 5:11 in sections 20 and 21 allow marriages of minors by written consent of their legal guardians. If the consent of the legal guardian(s) cannot be obtained for whatever reason, a Judge of the High Court may grant consent to the marriage.
  • The Marriage Act in section 22 states that no boy aged below 18 and no girl aged below 16 can marry except with the written consent of the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. This means that girls can marry at 16 years of age.
  • The Children’s Act Chapter 5:06 defines a child as a person under the age of 16 years and a young person as someone aged 16 years but below 18 years. The same act defines a legal guardian to mean also a husband of a girl who is under 18 years of age.
  • The Maintenance Act Chapter 5:09 in section 11 states that maintenance for a child shall cease when they marry meaning that the act recognises child marriages.
  • Section 8 of the Matrimonial Causes Act states that a maintenance order in favour of a child shall cease when the child marries meaning that it recognises child marriages.
  • The Guardianship of Minors Act Chapter 5:08 states in section 4(1)(b) that a parent who is granted sole guardianship shall also have power to consent to the marriage of a minor child.
  • The General Law Amendment Act Chapter 8:07 in section 15(5) permits the operation of laws that grant majority status at an age earlier than 18 years. This can be related to the Marriage Act which states that once a girl gets married whilst still a minor, she automatically becomes a major and does not lose this status even if she divorces while still a minor.

Although there is no specific Act of Parliament against child marriages, Constitutional Court ruling on the 20th of January 2016, in which marriage of children under the age of 18 years has been outlawed, is a milestone development in preserving the sexual reproductive health and human rights of minors who are below the age of 18. The Constitution of Zimbabwe in terms of Section 81 guarantees that children under the age of 18 have the right to health, the right to be protected from sexual exploitation or any other form of abuse, the right to education, and the right to be protected by the law. In abolishing child marriages the Constitutional Court of Zimbabwe has given life to Section 81. However, there is need to realign any laws which are at variance with the Constitution’s provisions and which are at variance with the judgement.

5.0    SUMMARY OF PUBLIC HEARINGS BY THE COMMITTEE

From 30 May 2016 to 3 June 2016, the Portfolio Committee on Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development conducted public hearings on the prevalence of child marriages in Mashonaland Central. Evidence gathering meetings were held in Centenary (Gatu Township Community Hall, 30 May 2016); Dotito (Dotito Council Hall, 31 May 2016); Rushinga (Rushinga Guest Lodge, 1 June 2016); Shamva (AFT Tehila Wadzanayi, 1 June 2016); Bindura (Tendai Hall); Chiweshe (Nzvimbo Growth Point, 3 June 2016); and Mazoe (Henderson Research Station, 3 June 2016).  The submissions made to the Committee during public hearings are presented under three sub-headings: (1) prevalence of child marriages in Mashonaland Central; (2) factors and conditions that promote child marriages; and (3) measures proposed during public hearings to curb child marriages in Mashonaland Central.

5.1 PREVALENCE OF CHILD MARRIAGES IN MASHONALAND CENTRAL

In all the districts that the Committee visited, submissions made confirmed high prevalence of child marriages. In Centenary, the Committee was informed that there was a high pupils’ drop-out rate and rampant child marriages involving girls doing grade 6 and 7, especially in Lower Muzarabani. A primary teacher reported to the Committee during public hearing that on average 30 students are dropping out of school due to child marriages annually. A church pastor, during public hearing, informed the Committee that a 15 year old girl had been sexually abused and forced into marriage, had contracted STIs that affected her health until she became mentally disturbed. Rehabilitation of the girl was said to be difficult since parents and close relatives were said not to be cooperating. In Dotito, it was reported to the Committee that a Grade 6 pupil had been married recently. In Rushinga, it was mentioned by CAMFED, a civil society organization that provides fees for school going girls in difficult circumstances, that even after buying school uniforms and paying fees for girls in Rushinga, under-age girls continue to drop out of school due to early marriages. In Shamva, the Committee was informed of an under-age girl who was made pregnant by a Government official and the perpetrator was not arrested.

5.2  FACTORS AND CONDITIONS PROMOTING CHILD MARRIAGES

Mr. Speaker, at all the seven (7) evidence gathering sessions conducted by the Committee, as outlined above,  numerous critical factors and/or conditions were mentioned repeatedly as the main drivers of child marriages in Mashonaland Central, namely: (i) poverty; (ii) lack of alignment of marriages laws with the new Constitution; (iii) lenient sentences given to cases regarded as statutory rape or consensual sex with a minor; (iv) practices of child marriages by some churches, in particular, the Johanne Marange Apostolic sect; (v) lack of education in communities; (vi) low level of awareness and poor understanding of child rights; (vi) harmful cultural practices; (vii) provision of temporary dormitories at schools for students coming from faraway places from school; (viii) striptease in beer halls; (ix) general lack of recreational facilities and entertainment in the province; (x) drug abuse by children in communities; (xi) high levels of unemployment.

Poverty was mentioned in all districts visited by the Committee as the major contributory factor to cases of child marriages. In Centenary, Dotito, and Rushinga, the Committee was informed that there was a high unemployment rate, and that the traditional cash crop, cotton, which used to generate income was selling at very low prices. Due to poverty, young girls are exposed to sugar daddies or gold panners with cash leading to child prostitution. This was further confirmed in Shamva, Bindura and Henderson public hearing meetings. Lack of alignment of laws to the new Constitution as a cause of child marriages was specifically referred to in Centenary (by NAC representative), Rushinga (by a student).

In Shamva, the Committee was informed that the absence of a specific law against child marriages allows citizens to continue marrying girls under 18 years with impunity. In virtually all public hearings that the Committee held, reference was made to the poor investigation or even lack of concern to child marriage cases by police as well as lenient sentences given to those convicted of having sex with minors.

In Centenary, the Committee was informed that sentences given to those guilty of having sexual intercourse with 13 year old girls was either a $100 fine or community service. The issue of lenient sentences was repeated in Dotito, Rushinga, Shamva, Bindura and Henderson Research Institute. Other factors which were also mentioned as causing child marriages include, chinamwari initiation for those who follow nyau or zvigure culture, chiramu and that children now have too much rights and parents and teachers are no longer able to discipline them.

5.3  PROPOSED MEASURES TO REDUCE CASES OF CHILD MARRIAGES

  • At Henderson Research Institute, in Mazowe, it was recommended to the Committee that even 18 years, as age of marriage, is too low.
  • In Dotito, Rushinga, Bindura, and Mazowe, the Committee was advised to take up the issue of reviewing too much child rights, in particular abolition of corporal punishment in schools and by parents and guardians, with the aim of enhancing discipline for children both at home and at school.
  • In Bindura, the Committee was informed of the need for engaging parliamentary committees and the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development and civil society organizations (CSOs), on child rights awareness in rural areas, urban areas, farms and mines, since child rights are not well understood.
  • In Bindura, the Committee was informed that there was low level of understanding of the Constitution and child rights, thus, it was emphasised that there was need to train and strengthen the village heads and all levels of traditional leadership knowledge of the Constitution and child rights.
  • At Shamva and Rushinga meetings, contributions by primary teachers, indicated to the Committee, that there is need for the subject of Guidance and Counselling, to be reviewed and improved to ensure it includes teaching on sexuality education, HIV and AIDS, child rights and child marriages, among other things, and that the subject should be examined at Grade 7, to equip children with requisite information on their rights, child abuse and child marriages.
  • At Shamva and Rushinga meetings, contributions by primary teachers, indicated to the Committee, that there is need to empower junior MPs and junior councillors and incorporate them into awareness campaigns against child marriages, something which if adopted will provide children in communities with the opportunity to talk between and amongst themselves about child marriages.
  • At Rushinga public hearing, the Committee was informed that there was high level of adult illiteracy in the area, and there was need for adult literacy programmes in outlying areas of Rushinga, particularly those close to the border with Mozambique.

6.0   COMMITTEE OBSERVATIONS AND FINDINGS

6.1 The Committee observed that youths and school going children are exposed to excessive use of drugs such as dagga (mbanje), tablets for the mental patients (locally known as mangemba) and broncho  a cough syrup taken in excessive quantity to get drunk, as well as alcohol. 

6.2 The Committee found that there is a deficit of information and adequate understanding of children rights and their responsibilities in most communities in Mashonaland Central. As a result, there is misunderstanding between teachers, parents and guardians who believe in their traditional role of guiding and disciplining their children, on the one hand, and children who no longer want to be disciplined and tend to abuse claim to their rights, and often engage in unbecoming behaviour and demeanor, including early sex activities, resulting in unwanted pregnancies and early marriages.

6.3  The Committee also found that communities in Mashonaland Central were concerned about incidences of sex with minors involving public officials or figures such as police officers and Members of Parliament and/or teachers.

6.4  In most, if not in all cases, child brides are disempowered, dependent on their husbands and deprived of their fundamental rights to health, education and safety.

6.5 Neither physically nor emotionally ready to become wives and mothers, child mothers are at greater risk of experiencing dangerous complications in pregnancy and childbirth, becoming infected with HIV/AIDS and suffering domestic violence.

6.6  Child mothers in Mashonaland Central province often have limited skills, education and access to the economic assets and decision making powers necessary to properly nourish their offspring and are therefore perpetuating the cycle of poverty. 

6.7 The Committee found that child brides who marry older and more sexually experienced men have a heightened risk of contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

6.8  It was observed that the broader community and traditional leadership and the police are not using existing laws such as Sexual Offences Act, Domestic Violence Act, the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act [Chapter 9:07], among others, to bring to book perpetrators of child marriages and those who facilitate such marriages.

6.9 The Committee observed that the absence of a specific Act of Parliament against child marriages with stipulated custodial sentence contributes to general lenience with perpetrators of child marriages in communities and churches, and the police's laxity when dealing with cases of child marriages.

6.10 Related to the above finding, the Committee observed that communities do not have confidence in the effectiveness of laws to eradicate sexual offences with minors and child marriages due to lenient sentences, such as a $100 fine or community service, meted against those convicted of statutory rape or have consensual sex with underage girls. 

7.0  COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATIONS

7.1  Government and key development partners, UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF, Plan International and CARE International should engage key players in Government and local communities and invest in programmes on awareness campaigns against gender based violence, domestic violence, the rights of the child, child marriages and family laws, in all the provinces by December 2016.

7.2  The Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture should review the subject of Guidance and Counselling, to ensure that it fully exposes students to issues on sexuality education, child rights and child marriages by the end of 2016.

7.3  The Zimbabwe Republic Police must, with immediate effect, enhance patrols in villages and engage the broader community leadership and school children on laws against child abuse, domestic and gender based violence, and child marriages.

  1. 4 There are already several laws which criminalize the sexual exploitation of young people, and the girl in particular. These include Criminal Codification and Reform Act, Sexual Offences Act, and Domestic Violence Act. These laws must now be rigorously enforced by the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the Judiciary in order to end impunity in cases related to having sexual intercourse with underage girls and child marriages.
  2. 5 As a follow-up to Constitutional Court ruling on child marriages in Zimbabwe on 20th January 2016, the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development should urgently initiate before the end of 2016, the crafting of a Child Marriages Bill, which should clearly criminalize child marriage in Zimbabwe. The provisions of such a Bill should clearly stipulate, among other things, that parents and guardians and anyone facilitating child marriage, including through receiving lobola for an underage girl, should be liable for severe prosecution under the law, and should encompass marriages happening in churches.
  3. 6 There is an urgent need for the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to expedite a comprehensive harmonisation and synchronisation of marriage and family laws with the new Constitution by December 2016, with particular focus on marriage and age of consent to sex to address the existing gaps.
  4. 7 There is need for the Ministry of Home Affairs, through the Registrar General’s Office, to establish a central registration of all marriages, including those solemnised in churches or traditionally in communities, to ensure that all marriages comply with the rights of women and rights of children as provided for under Sections 80 and 81, respectively of the Constitution. This should be done by March 2017.
  5. 8 The Registrar General’s Office should with immediate effect, in line with Section 81 of the Constitution, provide all children especially those from vulnerable groups with birth certificates without deterrent conditions in order to make it ease when investigating cases of child marriages
  6. 9 The Ministry of Health and Child Care from August 2016 should maintain constant monitoring of Government hospital's compliance with free maternal treatment policy, adequate deployment of health workers and midwifery personnel, improved delivery of maternal kits, clean water, accommodation facilities, and other necessities, to hospitals and clinics, as well as the provision of mobile clinics in rural areas, where necessary. 
  7. 10 The Judiciary should mete out severe and deterrent sentences against the convicted perpetrators of not only rape and child sexual abuse cases, but also against all those who marry girls below the age of 18 years, and those involved in arranging, facilitating, receiving lobola or such like offerings and or payments to effect child marriages.
  8. 11 There is need for the establishment of One-Stop-Centres, by June 2017, housing services from key ministries such as Ministry of Health and Child Care, the Home Affairs (ZRP), Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, legal services, victim friendly court facilities, and safe houses, in order for them to deal effectively and expeditiously bring perpetrators of child sexual abuse, gender based and domestic violence, and child marriages, and compassionately protect survivors of the crimes mentioned above. The Ministry of Women Affairs to coordinate the programme with the stakeholders involved.
  9. 12 The Ministry of Local Government and Urban Development should by the end of 2016, orient traditional leadership in marriage laws and the Constitution, which protect the rights of women and the girl child.
  10. 13 By October 2016, the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development should engage and encourage traditional leaders to open discussion of cultural beliefs and practices that are harmful to the dignity and rights of women in general, and the girl child in particular, such as genital mutilation, virginity testing, appeasement of the avenging spirits by marrying off the girl child to the family of the deceased, forced cultural and sexual initiation of underage girls.

            8.0  CONCLUSION

In the light of the Committee’s findings, it is clear that child marriage is a scourge affecting our communities every day and really needs urgent Government and stakeholders’ intervention through a multi sectoral approach.

  1. Annexure A: Statistics of Mashonaland Central Child Marriages Public Hearings Attendance.

Date

Venue

District

Attendance

Male    Female

Total

31 May 2016

Gatu Township Community Hall

Centenary

17

171

188

31 May 2016

Dotito Rural District Council

Mt. Darwin

63

111

174

1 June 2016

Rushinga Rural District Council

Rushinga

61

63

124

2 June 2016

AFM Tehila Wadzanai

Shamva

69

102

171

2 June 2016

Tendai Hall

Bindura

36

94

130

3 June 2016

Nzvimbo Rural District Council

Chiweshe

91

86

177

3 June 2016

Henderson Research Institute

Mazowe

33

37

70

GRAND TOTAL

 

 

370

664

1034

 

          HON. NYANHONGO: Thank you Hon. Speaker. I would also like to add my voice on the report that we have just heard from Hon. Nyamupinga. It is true that we went to conduct Public Hearings on the dates that she has mentioned in Mashonaland Central. During our Public Hearings, we managed to visit the centres that were organised by the District Administrators and indeed, we discovered a lot of things that are taking place in that particular province. It is very fortunate that in some places that we visited, we were very much impressed by a high turnout of school children starting from primary up to secondary level. They attended and contributed despite the fact that some relatives and parents including teachers were there, but they openly managed to give out their views and to let us know what is going on and the problems that they are facing.

          In most of the centres, there were some traditional leaders who were there to attend these meetings and contributed. That is when we discovered that traditionally, we have quite a number of parents who support through ignorance, the issue of child marriages. We also discovered that there are quite a number of things that forces children into these child marriages. One of them is poverty and the other one being that both parents would have died and the children are left alone without anyone to give them direction.

          So, these are some of the challenges that we discovered. It is important for us as a Government to make sure that we really look seriously into these issues. If we do not do this as a Government, you will find that Zimbabwe will slowly lose its ubuntu, and if we lose ubuntu, that means to say the nation of Zimbabwe will no longer have direction. This has to be corrected at that early stage where the children were saying we must observe and make sure that we observe the majority age which is stipulated in the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

          The majority age which is in the Constitution of Zimbabwe is not being followed. It is not only in Mashonaland Central, but this is happening in most of our provinces because of ignorance and some of the reasons that Hon. Nyamupinga has mentioned in the report. We have discovered that parents are no longer having the mandate to give direction to the children because of fear and in some cases, you could hear that the parents were taken to the police or to the courts by the children when they were trying to correct or criticise them not to do certain things.  A child would report his/her parents to the police and the police will not hesitate to make an arrest and take the person to court.  So we really need to rethink about it as Government to correct the policies.  I think we are giving our children too many rights, the Rights of Children.  I believe we must relook into those rights so that we do not end up having these rampant child marriages.  We really need to do something about it as Government.

          We also discovered that there are some traditional leaders, for instance chiefs, kraal heads, headmen and so on who are in support of these early child marriages.  You will find somebody at the age of 60 or 70 years marrying a 13 year old girl.  We also discovered that religions such as the vapositori are practicing this.  We really need to sit down with them again to ensure that this practice does not continue.

          In Centenary, we discovered that there is a certain mupositori with seven wives, the youngest being about 13 years old.  The duties of the young girl/wife entail kunotengesa zvinhu pamusika with a baby strapped to her back. You really see that it is so pathetic.  We are slowly losing our direction as Zimbabweans,something has to be done. 

We also discovered that schools that are far away from where these children are coming from maybe 8 to 10 km.  Just imagine a lone girl child walking a distance of about 10km with probably two boys, what will happen within that 10km distance?  Anything can happen and when this child falls pregnant, the parents are forcing her to go to where she was impregnated.  In other ways, we are forcing the child to be married before maturity.  I think we need to educate our constituents on the repercussions of having one child impregnating another, like those in the 13, 14 and 15 years age groups.

          There are some of the implications and it is not just about carrying the baby but it entails a lot of things.  You will find that in the end, the lifespan of the mother/girl child, I would like to say, will be two or three times shorter than her expected lifespan.  Also the future of the new born baby, even after the girl child delivers that baby without any complications will not be like that of a baby who has been borne by a mature woman.  So I think we really need to seriously look into these issues because we need our children to bear babies when they are fully matured in order for them to bear healthy babies.  Hon. Dr. Labode will agree with me because if we do not control these issues, especially the vapositori then we are just allowing the situation to continue and it is going to be worse off than what we are saying.

          I would like to thank my Chairperson, Hon. Nyamupinga for the eloquent report.  We shall need to debate about this as Hon. Members.  The Speaker stated that we are all parents here and if we do not do anything about it, our contributions are very important so that we bring the situation which is a little bit controllable to normalcy.  If we leave it like that, we will not have done justice to the nation of Zimbabwe. I thank you.

          *HON. MAPIKI:  Thank you Mr. Speaker.  I want to thank the Committee that went to investigate on the issue of child marriages.  In Mashonaland Central, Shamva tops the list in terms of child marriages.  What is causing this is mainly because of the artisanal miners, but some of the causes of child marriages are due to poverty because children do not have food to eat.

          As a Member of Parliament for Shamva, they were asking me about the elephant tusks that were said to amount to US$9 billion.  They were asking why of the value of $9 billion worth of elephant tusks in stock, $7 billion should not be sold so that the money can assist in terms of alleviating poverty and getting medication?  They were also saying that those who are engaged in alluvial gold mining get 2 kilograms of gold… - [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

          THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. MARUMAHOKO):  Order, order. The Hon. Member has alluded to a very important observation.  I thought Hon. Members were going to take note of that, but instead you continue to make noise.  You may proceed Hon. Member.

          *HON. MAPIKI:  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir, so this is what is causing Shamva to have a high rate of child marriages.   It is a challenge for us to eradicate the poverty that is causing these child marriages - because when you treat someone, you do not treat the symptoms but what has caused the disease.  We can come up with so many pieces of legislation but by not addressing the causes of the challenges, we will not be doing justice as Members of Parliament.

          They also questioned me and calculated that the Chinese who are coming in to mine alluvial gold make about 3 kgs a day.  If you go to Fidelity, the 3kgs are not there so they asked me that as Member of Parliament.  The challenges that we are facing in Shamva whereby we have lost our parents, there is a drought and most of the children who are engaged in child marriages are orphans because their parents died of HIV and Aids, and for that reason they are engaging in early marriages.  Their concern is that other people are taking our natural resources outside the country and benefiting from them.  So that is what the people in my constituency are raising.

          As a Member of Parliament, I also realised that all these child marriages were due to poverty.  As a nation, we need to come up with legislation that ensures we control our natural resources.  When we were questioning the National Parks officials, they were saying they are an appendix too and cannot sell the elephant tusks but they said they can only sell in the event that they continue negotiating.  As a nation, we need to sit down, identify the causes of child marriages and see what we can do in order to reduce poverty which is a major cause of child marriages. 

          Of concern to the people of Shamva is that some of the children who are experiencing challenges are being abused by Government officials.  There is an official who abused a child and surprisingly, the official was elevated to a high position.  You find that the person ends up infecting the child with HIV and AIDS and he only served five years in prison.  He came back and was given a high position.  What it means is that the trust that has been given to an official by the community is lost because he is now impregnating young girls.  The girls are unable to look after their children.  They now have to look after their children and siblings after the death of their parents.  The official was in jail for five years for rape.  He came back and was given money …

          THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER:  The following vehicles: ABP7586 and ABV 2961 are blocking other vehicles.  Can you please go and remove those vehicles.  You may continue Hon. Member.

          *HON. MAPIKI:  Thank you Mr. Speaker.  What is also of concern with regards to what is happening in Shamva or Mashonaland Central on child marriages is that when we visited most hospitals, most of the children who were pregnant were 13 years old.  They usually experience problems when giving birth because their bodies are not ready for child birth.  So, we need to represent them and ensure that they get medical attention. 

          What I have alluded to is what has contributed to child marriages.  Also, on the issue of cases at the courts, if you do not have a lawyer you cannot get justice.  As I alluded to earlier on, a person who is HIV positive rapes a child and goes to prison.  He comes back and continues raping young girls. These are the challenges that we are facing.  I thank you Mr. Speaker. 

          HON. GABBUZA:  Thank you Mr. Speaker for giving me the opportunity to add my voice on this motion.  Mr. Speaker, I really appreciate the report given by the committee.  I would like to indicate that what has been reported in Mashonaland Central is actually a tip of the iceberg of what prevails in the whole country – [HON. MEMBERS:  Hear, hear.] – It is not a small problem and what would have been nice is for the committee to also provide precise statistics.  When you say prevalence, we would need to see how frequent the problem is.  I am sure there are ways of tabulating and coordinating such information.  If we had statistics Mr. Speaker, it would help Hon. Members to appreciate the gravity of the problem because this is not a small matter. 

          Mr. Speaker, I would just indicate to you what obtains in my constituency which is exactly a replica of what happens in Mashonaland Central.  Some secondary school in my home area called Tinde had 16 children dropping out of school last year because of pregnancy.  Most of them are children between the ages of 14 and 18.  There was one girl aged 18 and the rest were about 15, 16 and 17 years.  Another high school called Siyazundu, both primary and secondary schools were in the newspapers last year with teachers and villagers impregnating school children.  The most serious part is mainly on school children who receive donor support because they are orphans.  They will be nicely dressed and are the most affected because they look better than other school girls.  This is a very serious problem Mr. Speaker. 

          When I visited Kamativi Secondary School last year, there were two pregnant girls who sat for their examinations.  One of them actually gave birth after the last paper.  I asked the school authorities why they keep pregnant school girls in the school from form three until they give birth – [HON. MEMBERS:  Inaudible interjections.] -  I am saying so because that is part of the problem.  If you go to school and you are pregnant, you should be allowed to go and give birth and possibly be allowed to come back.  To allow a pregnant schoolgirl to learn with other kids – [AN HON. MEMBER:  What about the boy?] – Do not argue with me, you will have your chance.

          THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER:  Order, order please.

          HON. GABBUZA:  We cannot have a situation whereby school children who are pregnant continue learning with others who are not pregnant and even be allowed to give birth whilst attending school.  I personally do not think it is a good policy from the education system.  Other people might have their own views, but I think it encourages pregnancy and sexual intercourse in schools.  Children might view it as a normal thing that should be accepted.  If there is such a policy, I think there is need for further debate and interrogation to see whether it is really assisting or encouraging pregnancies in schools. 

          Traditional leaders are part of the problem.  I visited one of the traditional courts where a boy had impregnated a young girl.  A single question was asked, “Young man do you know this girl?”  The boy replied yes, I know her.  The Chief said, let us go and drink beer.  Charge your lobola because you have seen your son in law.  It was taken lackadaisically as if it is generally accepted in the community.  It was like if you have impregnated a girl, you just pay the lobola and the issue is solved like that.  I think there is need for the traditional systems to assist us in that regard so that they are not allowed to preside over issues of underage children who are abused.  However this is what is going on; it is happening. 

          In most communal areas, we have got what are called the Child Protection Committees.  They report cases of child abuse and underage pregnancies to the police.  They provide statistics and culprits are taken to the police but two to three days they are set free.  Nothing is done and they do not even go to court.  If you make a follow up, you are told he went and paid a goat and the case was withdrawn.  As I have already mentioned, some of our male teachers are responsible. 

When the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education is engaged, there are so many issues of rights that are brought in and eventually the teacher continues teaching at the same school where he is busy impregnating school children.  Normally, these young girls have no ways of providing evidence and sometimes a few dollars are given to them and the parents and they pretend everything is normal.  The case is swept under the carpet.  I think we must not have a situation where a teacher is allowed even to touch a school girl.  I think that is part of the problem. 

Mr. Speaker, we should also appreciate that our economy is part of the problem.  You can imagine a school girl who has dropped out of school because there is no fees.  The whole morning she is seated home doing nothing and possibly roaming at the growth points and many and every evening are approaching it.  It normally starts with small boys and eventually she no longer sees a man as somebody that she must keep a distance to.  For two/three years after dropping out, obviously you do not expect that girl to be remaining sitting at home and doing nothing.  Eventually she gets into such problems because they have no jobs, no school and are doing nothing.  If we can sort out our economy and get children to be busy with doing other things, it would partly solve the problem.  Although I strongly feel that these other issues that I have raised before are some of the things that Government must look into and make sure that if it is policies, they are revised and possibly with supporting statistics to see if these change of policies that we are doing are helping in any way.  I thank you Mr. Speaker.

          HON. GONESE:  Thank you very much Mr. Speaker Sir.  I would like to begin by thanking the Committee for the sterling work that they did and for producing this very comprehensive and in my view, excellent report which brings to the fore the problems that are bedeviling us.

          Mr. Speaker Sir, what I find very sad is that this is not the first time that we have spoken about child marriage.  I do recall that Hon. Maondera brought a motion to this august House on the eradication of child marriage.  It was supported by all Hon. Members in this august House and it was unanimously adopted.  Subsequent to that Mr. Speaker, Hon. Misihairabwi-Mushonga brought a motion here in relation to the Constitutional Court application dealing with the issue of child marriage.  That motion was well presented, also well supported and unanimously adopted and now for the third time, we are now dealing again with the same issue.  From the time that those two motions had been adopted, nothing tangible has actually taken place and nothing tangible has happened for us to eradicate this scourge.  I believe that the biggest problem that we have is not necessarily the issues mentioned in the report such as poverty.  Of course, they are a big factor and the state of our economy is also a very big factor but in my respectful submission, the biggest problem that we have is the distance between our ears – that is our mindset. 

We have a situation where some people in very high offices, I remember that the whole nation was astounded and flabbergasted when the suspended Prosecutor General came up with a statement that these young girls – what does the nation expect them to do if they are poor.  They will find an escape route through marriage.  In other words, suggesting that those girls who have been abused, that it is appropriate for the abusers to marry them so that they take them out of the cycle of poverty.  That is a very unfortunate statement Mr. Speaker.

I believe that as a nation, we have to look seriously at how to deal with this issue and not continue having this debate in this august House.  We can continue debating until the cows come home, but at the end of the day, nothing will be actually happening because this thing will continue happening.  We can raise another motion or two more before we get to 2018 but nothing will actually take place until such a time in my respectful submission that we as a nation and in particular the Executive, actually come to this august House.  There have been suggestions which have been made about alignment and for me that is not a really big problem because as we speak, the Constitutional Court has made a pronouncement which is clear in black and white.  So, whatever those other laws provide, like the Customary Marriages Act which does not have a minimum age of marriage, it does not matter because it has become irrelevant.  The Marriage Act which allows marriage for girls above the age of 16 with the consent of the Minister, that has again been superseded by the Constitution of Zimbabwe.  It has been ably interpreted by the highest court in the land, the Constitutional Court which has stated unequivocally that child marriage is not allowed in terms of the Constitution.  What therefore do we need to do?  In my respectful view Mr. Speaker, it is to have remedial action which can only come in the form of a model law. 

Actually as a matter of fact, at the SADC Parliamentary level, we have adopted a model law and if that model law is used for the purpose of crafting a piece of legislation which will state clearly that anyone who marries a person below the age of 18 has committed a criminal offence and have clear penalty provisions which stipulate that, that person is liable to be sentenced to imprisonment for a specified period.  That in my view will be the best starting point. 

As it stands Mr. Speaker, the biggest problem that we have now is that yes, we can say that child marriage is prohibited in terms of the Constitution and the Constitutional Court has said so.  But, what then happens to someone who marries a boy or girl below the age of 18 – nothing.  If someone is above the age of 16, even having sexual intercourse with that young person is not a criminal offence.  It is very unfortunate Mr. Speaker that when we had that debate on the General Laws Amendment Bill which is now an Act of Parliament, we raised that very same issue and the Hon. Vice President gave us an assurance that, that aspect was going to be rectified but it was not. 

As we speak, that law is still in place.  It is only an offence to have sexual intercourse with a young person if that person is below the age of 16 but between the ages of 16 and 18, it is still not a criminal offence.  And, that is one of the problems.  If we are allowing the old madhalas/grandfathers to propose to those young girls and indulge in sexual intercourse and I want to say, the problem is not so much between boys and girls but mostly with older men who should actually know better but those are the main abusers.  Those are the predators that have to be dealt with and it can only be done when we begin seriously to look at our criminal law.

Unfortunately as I have already put and I want to reiterate that it appears that we do not have the political will and the necessary commitment to deal with the scourge.  Mr. Speaker, the constitutional judgment was passed some time ago – by now, one would have expected the Hon. Vice President who is responsible for Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Ministry to have come up with the Amendment Bill to deal with the issue which I have alluded to, to say that sexual intercourse can only take place between adults because our Legal Age of Majority Act is very clear.  It is consistent with the Constitution and it stipulates that only those above the age of 18 are adults and anyone below the age of 18 is still a child and that is the way that it should be. 

We all agree in this august House that boys and girls have no business being husbands or wives, let alone being fathers and mothers.  They are still immature and are still children themselves.  It is necessary that as a nation, we come to a stage where this scourge is totally eradicated and it will not happen if we are hedging and fudging.  If we are not genuinely committed and we just want to speak about it but do nothing concrete to ensure that something tangible actually happens, it does not help.

          Mr. Speaker, if we look at ourselves here, I think that most of us have children.  If you have any child who is below the age of 18, under normal circumstances, that child would not have completed their schooling.  Because, if you go to school when you are attaining six, you go through 13 years of secondary education.  By the time you complete your upper 6th, you are still 19 and you want to go for tertiary education or university. 

          Ideally, I want to agree with the Chairperson of the Committee who said that there are people who have expressed sentiments that even the age of 18 is not the appropriate age for one to get married; that ideally we would even want people to get married after completing school which is around 23-24 years.  Be that as it may, let us have a minimum threshold so that we say that in some circumstances because of various factors, some people may get married before they complete schooling.  Let us not allow a situation where anyone who is still a child and where anyone is still below the age of 18 can get married.  The only way we can do it as a starting point is through legislation.

We should come up with an Act which stipulates that anyone who gets married to a child has committed a criminal offence.  Once that criminal offence has been committed, that person has to be tried and sentenced to a term of imprisonment without the option of a fine.  That is the only thing that can bring the message home to everyone there in the outlying area that this is not acceptable.  As long as we just talk about it and we do not implement something tangible, we will continue having this problem. That is only a starting point – legislation.  It is like the foundation.  When you are building a house, you still need to have your slab and you still need to build a wall.  That foundation and wall are through conscientisation and sensitisation.

We know that some of the biggest culprits are traditional and religious leaders.  You find that some of these leaders dream that God has decreed that Mary or Jane or whoever is supposed to become their wife.  With that vision and with the influence that they have in the community, the young girl then gets married to this old man.  For me, Mr. Speaker, it is very necessary to sensitise some of these people who are guilty of those practices so that they will at least have an appreciation that this is against the spirit and the Constitution of Zimbabwe.  At the end of the day, we will have this level of understanding and appreciation in our community.

I believe that as legislators, we must now begin to have a structured programme because when we debate in this august House, those who have access to the Hansard or internet will know what we have talked about but the generality of the population of Zimbabwe will not be aware of it and this is the reason why I am suggesting that we must have structured programmes.

I want to agree with Hon. Members who have stated that it is not about Mashonaland Central.  It is a problem which is permeating the whole fabric of the Zimbabwean society.  We need to be going to all the communities, not just rural areas but even to urban areas as well so that we have this sensitisation and conscientisation.  The people of Zimbabwe will become very clear and aware that this is something that cannot be accepted.  It should be brought to an end.

I want to go back to the theme that I started on; that is to say that we really need the Executive.  I know that Parliament is responsible for making laws but at the end of the day, it will be appreciated if the responsible Ministers were to treat this matter with some urgency and bring the legislation which I talked about.  Thereafter, we also have the lobbying and advocacy which I have also mentioned so that they go in tandem – then we have on one hand the supporting pieces of legislation and on the other hand, we have the awareness which will actually enable the people of Zimbabwe to be able to deal with this problem and hopefully be able to bring it to an end. With these words, I want to say that I wholeheartedly support the motion from the Committee.

HON. CHIRISA:  Thank you Mr. Speaker.  Firstly, I would like to thank the Chairperson of the Committee on Women Affairs for presenting this report in this august House.  I would also like to thank Hon. Nyanhongo who seconded the motion. My colleagues have said it all.  It is a very comprehensive report but I would also like to make my contribution.

Mr. Speaker Sir, a child marriage is like an informal marriage or union before the age of 18. It is reality in this country for both girls and boys although the girls are the most affected by this early marriage issue.  This is a lifetime disadvantage to these girls and boys and I think it has to be dealt with once and for all.

World statistics show that 7 million women alive today were married as children and more than 250 million were married before the age of 15.  You find that as much as it is a problem in Zimbabwe, it also affects other countries worldwide.  I think the United Nations has put in place structures to make sure that there is protection of children by the laws of the countries that are member states.  Unfortunately, some of them like Zimbabwe have not domesticated some of these international instruments and protocols.

Children who marry before the age of 18 are less likely to remain in school.  They cannot be mothers and fathers and at the same time concentrate on books.  They are more likely to experience domestic violence. They are also likely to die due to complications at pregnancy level especially the girls.  At child birth, even when you are in the 20s, you can also have problems.  What more of a 12 or 14 year girl child?

The children born of these young girls are also likely to be still born because they die during the first month or week of their birth.  I just want to say we celebrate and salute the two girls who were mentioned by Hon. Misihairabwi-Mushonga in this august House who advanced and fought for the elimination of child marriages.  It is up to the Executive and this House to make sure that what came out of the Constitutional Court is made a reality.

Evidence show that girls who marry early often abandon their education and become pregnant and maternity death related pregnancy at child birth are an important component of the mortality rate of the girls aged between 15-19.  A mother who is under 18 is also a child and an infant risk dying in the first year.  Even if the child survives, he or she is mostly likely to suffer low birth weight, under nutrition and late physical and cognitive development of the child.

The child brides are at risk of violence and exploitation by their husbands and the other wives of their husbands.  Child marriages often result in separation from family and friends and lack of freedom to participate in community activities which can all have major consequences on the girl’s mental and physical well-being.

The Chairperson of the Committee mentioned child trafficking and according to the Protocol to prevent suppression  and punish trafficking, especially of women and children.  Child trafficking is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of children for the purpose of exploitation, which is a violation of the children’s rights.  This could be a boy or girl child but still it is abuse and exploitation as well as denial of their opportunity to reach their full potential.

Research has yielded information on the nature of child trafficking and little is known about this.  The International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that one to two million children are being trafficked every year.  This is happening in Zimbabwe also and this must be stopped.  UNICEF, which works with other development partners, Government and NGOs on all aspects of child protection and anti-trafficking responses also supports evidence based research to strengthen interventions and prosecution to make sure that Zimbabwe uses the opportunity to use this facility.  We should ensure that we are in line with the International Protocol.  We also have the Kuwait case, which has tarnished our name as a country and as a Government and I think we need to do something.

Civic organisations have also come in to support international partners and the Government of Zimbabwe in training professionals and working with children, including social workers, health workers, police, and border officials to make sure this trafficking is reduced and in the end eliminated.  UNICEF, as a child organisation is worried that sometimes their efforts are not recognised fully because we do workshops and talk shows, but no action is taken to make sure that what we discuss in these workshops becomes a reality.  We also have children with disabilities who are taken advantage of, may be due to poverty or because the parents feel they want to get rid of them.  They are part of the group that is also involved in child marriages.  It is not because they want to, but because their parents or guardians want to get rid of them.  I think to be a disabled girl also leads to child marriage so that the parents benefit and they get rid of the disabled child in the process.  So, we must protect our disabled children and all the vulnerable groups. 

In conclusion I would like to say that maybe as a country we have not done much in terms of research, to ensure we have all the statistics as one speaker alluded to.  Maybe we are not taking this seriously because we think it is just happening in Mashonaland Central while forgetting that it might be affecting your own province, district or constituency.  So, we have to put our heads together and fight this problem to its conclusion.  In many cases a child will be exposed to different types of violence, exploitation and abuse, including this child marriage which is a very visible form of child abuse.  Each has its own characteristics, hence the need to change legislation, policies, and services as well as making sure that our social norms are in line with the changes that we are making as legislators.  We should also improve the protection of children in multiple ways and as legislators we can meet with development partners on a number of issues and make sure our Executive is strengthening child protection systems, protecting and promoting positive and social norms.  I thank you Mr. Speaker.

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order, I have an announcement to make.  There will be a ZANU PF Caucus meeting on 17th August, 2016 at ZANU PF Headquarters at 09:00 hrs.

+HON. J. TSHUMA:  Thank you Hon Speaker for affording me the opportunity to add my voice to this pertinent matter.  May I start by thanking Hon. Nyamupinga, seconded by Hon. Nyanhongo for bringing up this very important motion, which is a scourge to every one of us, particularly those from my area.  First and foremost, may I make it known that this motion that we are talking about does not only affect Mashonaland Central but it affects the whole country.  Our children are being allowed to marry while they are still minors.  Can this august House look closely at this matter and come up with solutions to end this scourge.

I think we should look at the parents and guardians of these children because that is where our problem lies.  I concur with Hon Gonese, who said we should not just talk without doing anything.  My opinion is that Government should put a sentence that is deterrent to the parents who will receive the lobola and the victim as well.  The sentence should be deterrent enough so that this scourge can come to an end.  I believe these guardians and parents want to benefit economically from this child, instead of educating the child on the proper things to do – hence the child is abused.  What are we doing as parents?  Government should not leave the parent out of this matter because this parent will repeat the same thing, but if the parents and guardians are jailed this will bring this matter to an end. 

The other matter is when we were growing up we were given a key to start life at a party on attaining the age of 21 years.  Why do we not as Parliamentarians come up with a law that stipulates that anyone who wants to marry should do so at the age of 21 years because they will be mature.  We should forget about 18 years and start talking about the age of 21 years.  Why should people hurry to marry?  You will stay in marriage forever hence the reason why people should not hurry into marriage.  That way, people will be happy.

Let me now look at schools.  Children spend most of their time at school from 07:00am to 16:00 pm.  What takes place in these schools?  Sometimes there is nothing we are doing to remove this scourge.  We just leave it while it continues to grow until it becomes as cancerous as it is right now.  Government and the Ministry of Education should deliberately have a curriculum in place to teach these matters so that children are made aware whilst young that it is important not to be abused.  When you have attained a certificate then you can think of getting married.  The Hon. Member from Binga stated that some teachers are also involved in these things and they continue teaching.  Such matters are disturbing us.  When you talk about something, you make a resolution and deter certain practices, if we keep quiet, we will not achieve anything.  This matter of debating and debating, I request that let us come up with laws that are deterrent enough. 

          Moving on to spiritual matters, religious groups are also involved in these matters. I will not repeat what the other Hon. Members have already said, but I concur with their sentiments.  Some prophets prophesy on wrong things, they prophesied that they should marry.  No, we should not allow these prophets to do that, to prophesy that so and so should marry a child. People should be given deterrent sentences, this should also the same with those who abuse children. 

          Mr. Speaker Sir, let me now conclude.  As Government, we are not here to waste time.  We want to do our job properly so that our constituents will be aware that we are representing them here, we have no time to waste.  When we say this practice is bad, the sentence should be deterrent as well.  When someone commits a crime, it should be quite clear.  Parents and guardians will not accept lobola because they will be aware that they will be incarcerated, leaving all the wealth behind.   I request that this House and Government should have teeth to bite and enforce measures to curb this system.  Thank you.

          +HON. MPOFU:  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  I would like to second the motion moved by my Chairperson Hon. Nyamupinga and seconded by Hon. Nyanhongo.  Mr. Speaker Sir, I am touched, we moved around Mashonaland Central; it pains me particularly on matters pertaining to the disabled just like me.  Men take advantage of the disabled people.  We have people who are disabled, some cannot see just like me, you are raped but you are not able to identify the person who would have abused you.  We also have those who are deaf and dump, when asked to identify the culprit, that person would not be able to do so.

This matter of marrying minors is across the country.  We find that in Mashonaland Central a 14 year old had a greedy mother, the child would come back home early in the morning and the mother would just accept. We as adults are a problem, particularly, we mothers.  As a parent if you find that it is evening and your child is not at home, you should find out where your child is.  Of late, even 18 year olds were considered as children but now we are saying 18 year olds should marry.  If a child who is 18 gets married, you find that her body is not mature enough to go through the gestation period.  You find that in most cases children in such cases die.  It is difficult to find the culprit who would have impregnated this child because the child would have died. I suggest therefore that they should marry at 23 not at 18. 

Secondly, Mr. Speaker Sir, these old men who marry minors should be castrated so that they do not marry these minors.  How can such men have carnal knowledge of children who are not yet ready to be mothers?  Both boys and girls should marry above 18, if we say 18 for the girl it should be 18 again for the boy.  Sometimes some of these children are taken for two years and thereafter they are dumped for another girl. 

Now,  coming to religious groups, we have these Apostolic sects, you find an old man saying he wants four women, some say 12 –particularly in my constituency.   What can one man do with 12 women, minors for that matter?  How do they survive with one man?  You find that these women are as cheap labour.  It touches me as a mother and I think it also touches those men with sober minds.  I actually concur with the previous speaker who said even guardians or parents of these minors must be incarcerated as well. 

We have some of these very short disabled persons who are being abused.  When they are impregnated they are taken to beer halls where they are made to dance.  The law should be deterrent enough.  The police should remove children who are below 12 years of age who will be dancing in these beer halls.  If such a child has parents and they are identifiable, those parents should be arrested as well, because when you discover that your 12 year old s not home, you should find out where that child is.

I would like to praise my Chairlady. I am actually touched by these things because I always move around with the Chairlady. As Hon. Members, noting our political differences, we should be united. When people are incarcerated for impregnating minors, they should not be given light sentences. They should be given 40 years or more on rape cases. Does it not touch you as a parent when you find that your child is under such circumstances? There should be deterrent sentences of even 40 years. You should not take advantage of the child and make her into a wife - no. 

          This is not a laughing matter, but this is the truth. We cannot rest because of these abusers. Even if those in the Judiciary do not do a proper job, they should be arrested. We do not want corruption. We are the owners, we should make the law. Let us unite in enacting a law so that our children grow properly. I repeat that for disabled persons, there should be a law that says those who stay in the bush or in the streets are born by people who cannot see. When they are moving around, the mother cannot see that the child is abused. I request that Government takes action in these things. These are children but if we look at the living and forget the disabled - we do not choose to be disabled. It can be you or someone else, or which political party. Feel for your disabled people. It is bad. This is what I had. Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.

          HON. MATUKE: Mr. Speaker Sir, I move that the debate do now adjourn.

          HON. RUNGANI: I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume: Wednesday, 17th August, 2016.

          On the motion of HON. MATUKE, seconded by HON. RUNGANI, the House adjourned at Twenty Minutes Past Four O’clock p.m.

 

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