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SENATE HANSARD 15 FEBRUARY 2017 VOL 26 NO 29

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PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Wednesday, 15th February, 2017

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

PRAYERS

(THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE in the Chair)

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

          HON. SEN. MOHADI:  Mr. President, I move that Order of the Day, No. 1 be stood over until the rest of the Orders of the Day have been disposed of. 

          HON. SEN. MUMVURI:  I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY THE PRESIDENT

          Second Order read:  Adjourned debate on motion in reply to the State of the Nation Address.

          Question again proposed.

          HON. SEN. CHIEF CHARUMBIRA: Mr. President, I move that the debate do now adjourn.

          HON. SEN. MOHADI:  I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume:  Thursday, 16th February, 2017.

MOTION

PRESIDENTIAL SPEECH: DEBATE ON ADRESS

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

          Question again proposed.

HON. SEN. CHARUMBIRA: Mr. President, I move that the debate do now adjourn.

HON. SEN. TAWENGWA:  I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume:  Thursday, 16th February, 2017.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

HON. SEN. MARAVA:  Mr. President, I move that Order of the Day, No. 4 be stood over until the rest of the Orders of the Day have been disposed of. 

          HON. SEN. B. SIBANDA:  I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

SADC MODEL LAW ON ERADICATING EARLY CHILD MARRIAGES

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

MINDFUL that the SADC Model Law is a milestone in eradicating the matrimony of the children and also in protecting those who are already in marriage;

APPRECIATIVE that the Model Law embraces all concepts on the prohibition of child marriages as adopted in Swaziland in 2016;

DESIROUS to see the end to child marriages as well as any retrogressive measures and hurdles that mitigate against the eradication of such unions.

NOW, THEREFORE, calls upon Government to domesticate provisions of the Model Law as part of our statutes.

          HON. SEN. CHIPANGA:  I second.

          HON. SEN. MOHADI:  Thank you Mr. President, first and foremost, I will start with the background of this model.  According to UNICEF, it defines child marriage “as formal marriage or a union before 18 years of age”. Early marriages are a big threat to the human rights and well-being of children.  Marriage under the age of 18 is a violation of human rights, including the right to equality on grounds of sex and age, the right to marry and establish a family, the right to life, the right to education, development and the highest attainable standard of health.  Child marriage denies the young an opportunity to grow and empower themselves.  It challenges the basic right of these children to health, protection and development.  These girls are forced into it a lot more in comparison to their male counterparts and impacts girls with more intensity. 

          Mr. President, in 2015, the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution calling States to take measures to address child marriage.  Earlier in the same year, the African Union (AU) launched a regional campaign to eliminate child marriage in Africa.  This was followed by the AU Girl Summit on ending child marriages in Africa, held in Lusaka in November 2015, where the main themes spoke to the need to protect the girl child from child marriage and to resolve the underlying causes including access to education and harmful cultural practices.

          There are international human rights instruments that have been put in place in relation to the problem of early marriages. The key ones are (1) Universal Declaration of Human Rights; (2) Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade, and Institutions and Practices similar to Slavery; (3) Convention on Consent to Marriage, Minimum age for marriage and registration of marriages; (4) Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and (5) Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

 Mr. President, according to UNICEF (2013), an estimated 14 million girls between the ages of 15 to 19 give birth each year. They are twice likely to die during pregnancy or child birth than women in their 20s. Over 700 million worldwide alive today were married as children and that, one in every three girls in the developing world is married by the age of 18. Judging from such statistics, it is clear that early marriages are unfriendly or hostile to development and predisposes young girls to health complications such as HIV/AIDS, cervical cancer, fistula and stunted growth in children born of young mothers, factors which also lead to the increase of both maternal and child mortality.

Between 2011 and 2020, more than 140 million girls around the world will become child brides, according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). It further says, if current levels of child marriages hold, 14, 2 million girls annually or 39 000 daily will marry too young. Furthermore, of the 140 million girls who will marry before they reach 18, 50 million will be under the age of 15. Child marriage is an appalling violation of fundamental human rights of girls and boys. Child marriage is a formal or informal union where one or both spouses are below the age of 18. According to multiple human rights agreements, marriage under the age of 18 is a violation of human rights, including the right to equality on grounds of sex and age, the right to marry and establish a family, the right to life, the right to education, development and the highest attainable standard of health. Child marriage is a product of cultures that devalue women and girls and discriminate against them. “The discrimination,   according to a UNICEF report on “Child marriage and the Law,” “often manifest itself in the form of domestic violence, marital rape, and deprivation of food, lack of access to information, education, healthcare, and general impediments to mobility.”

Zimbabwe is one of the countries in the world with high cases of child marriages. The Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey of 2014 indicates that the proportion of women who were married before the age of 15 is more than that of men. In Zimbabwe, one in three women and less than 1 in 20 of men of the age group of 20-49 years were first married or in union before the age of 18, according to the survey mentioned above. According to UNFPA, 31% of the girls are married before the age of 18 in Zimbabwe, and that 39% of the women in the rural areas aged 20-49 years currently in marriage or union were married before the age of 18, compared to 21% in urban areas.

Mr. President, in terms of provinces, the Zimbabwe Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey for 2014 indicated that Mashonaland Central tops on the list of provinces with a high number of cases of child marriages with 50%; followed by Mashonaland West with 42%; Masvingo 39%; Mashonaland East 36%; Midlands 31%; Manicaland 30%; Matabeleland North 27%; Harare 19%; and Matabeleland South 18%.

SADC MODEL LAW ON ERADICATING CHILD MARRIAGE

·       The SADC Model Law on Eradicating Child Marriage and protecting children already in marriage should be used by Southern African states, Zimbabwe included, to shape their own legislation and policies in a manner adequate to address child marriages.

·       In its preamble, the SADC Model Law on Eradicating Child Marriage and protecting children already in marriage, calls upon member states of the SADC to adopt measures to eradicate child marriages, prevent its occurrence and protect children already in marriage or affected by child marriages.

·       Further to that, the SADC Model Law on Eradicating Child Marriage, its part contains the main mandate of the law; it outlaws all forms of child marriage or unions. In complimenting the third part, parts four and five set out standards to prevent (including education for girls and vocational training, etc) and to mitigate the effects of child marriage (assistance to child victim of child marriage and other), respectively. In part, six of the draft laws, states are encouraged to keep track of information and data concerning child marriage in their own territories.

WAY FORWARD FOR ZIMBABWE

·       Zimbabwe is a State party to international instruments whose aim, among others, is to protect the girl child, including protecting them from child marriages. These legal frameworks, which include: (i) Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW); (ii)  Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), (iii)  SADC Protocol on Gender and Development, and the SADC Model Law on Eradicating Child Marriage.

          Mr. President, the provisions of the SADC Model Law on Eradicating Child Marriage should be incorporated and domesticated into gender laws of the country.  After all, Zimbabwe has prioritized children’s rights.  It adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child and various laws have been passed in recent years, which protect children. 

          Mr. President, children’s rights are now set out in Section 19 of the Constitution.  Section 19(1) clearly sets out that the State must adopt policies and measures to ensure that in matters relating to children, the best interests of the children concerned are paramount.  In Section 19(2), the State has undertaken to ensure that children enjoy family or parental care, or appropriate care when removed from the family environment, have shelter and basic nutrition, health care and social services, are protected from maltreatment, neglect or any form of abuse and have access to appropriate education and training.

          Mr. President, more importantly, the Constitution of Zimbabwe states that a child is a boy or a girl under the age of 18, which therefore means that anyone under the age of 18 cannot marry or be married.  Further to that, Section 78 of the Constitution stipulates that, “Every person who has attained the age of 18 has the right to found a family.”

          Parliament of Zimbabwe, during alignment of laws should consider the following:

       i.            The need for the awareness of the SADC Model Law on Eradicating Child Marriage and development partners.  UNDP, UNFPA and Plan International should play critical roles in this regard, including the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development;

    ii.            Existing pieces of laws (such as the Children’s Act) should be fully enforced to protect child rights and the girl child from child marriages, in compliance with the SADC Model Law on Eradicating Child Marriage;

 iii.            Also, the ZRP should fully investigate all cases of child sexual abuse and child marriages to bring to book perpetrators of child marriages and all those who facilitate their occurrence;

 iv.            Thus, the police and other key players should be exposed to the provisions of the SADC Model Law on Eradicating Child Marriages.  I thank you Mr. President. 

*HON. SEN. CHIPANGA:  Thank you Mr. President.  I rise to second such a good motion raised by Hon. Sen. Mohadi.  All of us in this august House are mature and know what a child is.  So, if there is a call for the barring of child marriages, we really appreciate what that means.  The problem is that all of us are not well up to be able to ensure that the child becomes active in the sense of attending school until they reach the age of 18, especially the girl child. 

Mr. President, if a child completes Grade 7 at the age of 14 - as parents, we are all aware that for her to spend the next five years without actively occupying her mind, in the end she would look for somewhere to go.  In my view, Mashonaland Central has the highest number of child marriages.  The answer lies in the fact that the majority of such children are in the farms and mining communities.  Most of the parents in the mines and farms are not well-educated.  In as far as they are concerned, the fact that their child is not educated is not an issue.  It also takes us back to the reason why we should not have more children.  However, I am not going to discuss about it Mr. President.  Once the parents have failed to send their children to school because they cannot afford, in the end the child will be involved in unacceptable activities. 

In the same farms, I personally experienced this last year in the area where I am farming.  One of my workers’ daughters had gone to school as far as Grade 7. The father had made preparations and bought uniforms for her to go to Form One.  Come January, the girl said she was no longer going to school.  She had lost interest in school; she was 14 to 15 years.  My employee approached me and informed me that he had bought uniforms and put funding in place for the child to continue with her education.  The daughter said she no longer wanted to go to school.  Barely six months lapse, she was married. 

These are some of the problems we are facing because of the farm lifestyle.  There is no culture of going to school to attain higher education.  In fact, once a child has stopped going to school, the boy goes to herd cattle or goats while girl child goes to the fields.  You may not accept that as a farm owner but eventually the parents will come and plead with you.  So, how best  then can we eradicate this issue?  We know that SADC has put such a law and Zimbabwe is in the forefront driving these issues of the rights of the girl child and women but we still have pockets with 32%, 52% and 49% of girls that are getting married when they are below the age of majority.

My considered view Mr. President is that for as long as we do not go back to the era of free education - which may not be attainable because of the economic climate - when it was mandatory that parents should send their children until they reach 17 years when they will have attained “O” level and we are going to have this problem of children dropping out of school because parents will have failed to pay school fees for form 1. What then happens is that once they fail to go to school in the farming communities, they end up working and it is an eventuality that they become pregnant and they get married.

          Why then do we have this high frequency of child marriages in rural areas as opposed to urban areas? This is due to the fact that the father in the urban centre is employed and they can send their children to Form 4 because they have the finances to do so. In the urban areas, there is also a mentality that once my daughter is educated they become a clerk. The daughter knows that if they are educated they become a nurse or another profession which is recognised. That culture is absent in the communal lands. For us to eradicate this, we need the assistance of the powers-that-be that there be a mandatory law that children go to school until they attain “O” level. Once a child attains ordinary “O” level their world view is different from the one of a Grade 7 or Grade 5 person.  They have better visions.

          A long time ago when I was still in school, we used to have debates and we would debate on whether it would be good to work in an urban centre or to work in farms. There will be those in support for working in farms and those against. In an urban area you are given a better and a cleaner environment than would be the case with a farm labourer in the farms. This encouraged us to go to school and became educated so that we could become clerks. If we do not send our children to school we are not going to be developed.

          I wish we were one of those countries where the Government would support through the Department of Social Welfare, children that one cannot look after. If we have a social welfare support for food and rentals like other countries, then the child could be in a position to stay at home even if they fail to go to school until they attain “O” level. It is mandatory that children go to school until they become 16 years of age. On average the child will have attained “O” level. Alas, Zimbabwe cannot afford that. Because we are not able to do that - I see that if there are no interventions into the issue of the education system, we are going to go round in circles. We may come up with good legislation where we have the police to ensure that people do not break the law by getting married before a certain age. Be that as it may, the children also run away. The parents will become evasive about such information of their children that become married below the age of 18 because the parent will then say it is one mouth less to feed.

          Secondly, if the child would be married by a border jumper, any income then comes home. So the problem will always be there.  It is my request that this august Senate should come up with views on how best we can keep the majority of our children in school until they reach the age of 18 years. At 18 years those that will have gone to school earlier will be in their first year at university or doing advanced level.  It is detrimental for a child to get married at 16 like in the farms because my example that I have cited earlier on is that she could marry at 14 years and that child becomes a mother and she will not be able to run any household at that age. The boy could be impregnating other girls but the boy child may not be an issue, what is an issue is the girl child because once the girl child becomes pregnant she suffers because she needs to support her child.

          We should come up with measures to ensure that our children remain in school. If we do not come up with such a solution, this perennial problem will continue. Whether there are laws or not, I do not believe that this will help us unless we come up with a way to eradicate this and to ensure that our children remain in school. Thank you for the opportunity Mr. President.

          HON. SEN. MUTSVANGWA: I rise to commend the mover of this motion Hon. Sen. Mohadi and the seconder Hon. Sen. Chipanga. First of all, we really have to applaud the SADC Parliamentary Forum which is a regional inter-parliamentary body of all the member states of SADC for coming up with this model law which is a first of its kind in the whole world. It was applauded by people who attended the Plenary Session in Swaziland where it was launched. People came from all over the world including America, Europe, Asia and Africa. We really applaud SADC Parliamentary Forum for coming up with that model law.

          What they focused on is that they wanted to exploit the fact that it is us parliamentarians who are uniquely positioned to make sure that we put the legislative framework to stop all these evil things happening to our children. It is truly saddening that every year 15 million girls below the age of 15 are being married off. It is a very serious problem and it ties in with what Hon. Sen. Chipanga had just been saying that we need to educate our children. If these girls are educated, they also bring up better children who will not be married off at a tender age.

          It is us as parliamentarians who are key role players. We should lead the development of the legislative framework. The relevant legislation and policies are made by us. We can set the political agenda because we are opinion leaders as parliamentarians. With all these statistics from the provinces we can actually set the political agenda to end child marriage. We are the people who pass the Budget and let us keep that in mind that as we pass the budgets, more money is provided to make sure that the girl child is actually being catered for.

          We are also there to monitor implementation. It is just not a matter of coming up with legislation and policies but to monitor whether it is being done. We need to ensure that there is accountability. If there is a Ministry which deals with children, we need to monitor if the policies which have been put in place are implemented.  As Members of Parliament this is our job and this is why SADC PF came up with this. They are calling the entire member Parliaments to come up with laws which will totally eradicate this evil thing which is happening.

          In Zimbabwe we have done quite a lot. A lot of legislative framework has been put in place but we are being informed by statistics that it is not enough. This is something that we need to go back to the drawing board and say all the policies, laws and legislations which have been put, why are they not helping these young girls?  Why are parents not aware of the evils of giving away a little child who is 15 years old?  We have 15 year old grandchildren in our homes and they are vulnerable to abuse.  So, when a parent actually volunteers to give away a little child of 15 years of age and say, okay go and that child loses out completely her parents when she needs guidance and advice from somebody who loves her dearly; it becomes a problem.

          So, this is something which we need to seriously look at.  The issues in our Constitution;  Section 19 clearly states that, ‘the State must adopt policies and measures to ensure that , in matters relating to children, the best interest of the children are paramount’.  Us as parliamentarians, we are there to uphold the Constitution.  Is this happening and if it is not, what should we do?  It is something which we should think seriously about. 

We would also like to see issues of alignment like where it says in the Constitution, a child can only be married at 18.  There is a statutory law which still talks of 16.  So if you say at 16 a child can have sex, and then you say a child can be married at 18, what are we saying?  The need for alignment cannot be over emphasised and that is also to be done by us as Members of Parliament. 

Mr. President, the model law sets a consistent standard for the SADC region.  The SADC realises that this problem of early child marriages is just not in Zimbabwe but it is all over, more so even in the SADC countries.  We are saying in Zimbabwe, those two kids – there was a landmark ruling on January 21st where two kids were actually granted by the Constitutional Court – those children were given away at a very tender age.  We should build it up from there and continue to make sure that our laws and legislations clearly eradicate child marriages.  I want to thank the movers of this very critical motion which calls on all of us to think what we can do to eradicate early child marriages.  I thank you Mr. President.

HON. SEN. B. SIBANDA:  Thank you Mr. President.  I stand to lend support to the motion.  I will deal with a number of issues - the statistics and the rationale have been provided.  The next thing that I would want to examine is the imperative for the relevant law for which we have a model.  It should not be a huge task either for the legislative Houses, nor for Government to put in place the relevant law.  The advantage of the model law is that it makes our task much easier than generating the law from nowhere.  So, I stand to urge the Minister and say, you have the prototype, so let us move on and let us desist from some mentality that I have heard where it is said, it is better now than never.  I think it should say it is better because it is forever. 

The second point that I want to make is as a nation, we pride ourselves sometimes with small things like a high literacy rate which is basic.  Yes, we are able to read and write, is that what the modern world calls for and is that what development calls for?  If we follow the statistics, either in SMEs or generally in world trends, the girl child is the future of investment.  They are the more productive sector as they develop into women.  So, it is absolutely important that all laws guide this critical mass towards the achievement of economic development.  Therefore, I am saying, let us graduate from the basics of speaking about literacy rate but let us move towards an acceptable universal education level which is a minimum of ‘O’ levels and that takes you close to an age during which you could be married.

I want to emphasise a point made by another Senator here that, in certain sectors of our community, people get married may be because there is no alternative.  I do a bit of farming and I was talking to this young girl that I had employed.  She told me that she had done Form 2 and I said to her, you will work here for two months and get enough money for you to be able to proceed to at least do Form 3 and Form 4.  She said to me, uyo ari kusakura padhuze neni ane ‘A’ level.  What that means is, we have taken hope out of our children.  They have nothing to look forward to if the ‘A’ level person is employed kusakura, so, I have no basis to motivate this little girl to get to ‘A’ level.

I am saying; let us give our young generation hope as a nation.  Let us create a new imperative where when these people are growing up, like we used to have; I remember my grandmother wanted me to be a teacher but I wanted to be an engineer and that gave me hope.  All I did was focus towards that and unless that hope is created, the legislation will be there, the poverty will be there and I am going to deal with the poverty but the cause will not be realisable. 

The last thing that I would like to raise Mr. President is that, I would like to see this nation telling itself that instead of perennially crying about incapacity as a nation, we have the capacity, and all that we are doing is that, we are spending more time mourning, unable to educate our children and unable to offer social service to those who do not have because we do not extend our imagination.  We do not extend our goals because there is enough in this country at least for the foreseeable future to make sure that we are a developing nation.

  Therefore Mr. President, I suggest that as Zimbabweans, we put our heads together and set up stringent goals that challenge us to turn this economy around.  We need to create a social system that is going to support our children and at the same time, eliminate the undesirable force for young girls to get married at an early age where they will be abandoning school and thereby stunting their social and physical development.  Mr. President with those words, I urge that we start with the legislation and I also urge that we mobilise both our efforts and our resources to create a better future for our children and leave a legacy.  We are running the risk of being a generation of no positive legacy until we take certain steps.  I thank you Mr. President.

*HON. SEN. MACHINGAIFA:  I thank you Mr. President.  I rise to support the motion brought into this House by Hon. Sen. Mohadi seconded by Hon. Sen. Chipanga.  The motion deals with the issue of early child marriages.  We have had several debates over this issue; I want to believe it is the third time that we have talked about the issue of the girl child.  There has been no solution.  We now say the world over, we have this problem but each and everyone looks upon their individual country for solutions.  As a parent and a resident of this country or a citizen of this country, when I look at that issue, it appears as those that are tasked with such duties are not doing their job well. 

          There is the issue of education, famine or hunger. I recall reading a certain book one day, there was a discussion that started in 1853 and ended in 1953.  It was on education but it meant that education was not being able to speak English or being able to work our mathematical problems but it was said that education simply meant that a child or an adult would understand the differences between the good and the bad.  As we used to grow up, we were told that we should never do it because it has repercussions.  As such, we never tried to do those things because we were afraid of the consequences.

  Mr. President, there are rights that are being given to children. People are advocating for children’s rights and advocate that children should be informed about sexual reproduction and what sexuality is all about as well as the use of contraceptives such as condoms.  What is the meaning of this in terms of church values?  You have armed them, they now have the teeth and they want to bite.  There are children that we are seeing doing Advanced level but never complete it.  Day in, day out, they are told of the dangers of HIV/AIDS and that if you use the condoms as a contraceptive they will not fall pregnant but how then are they falling pregnant at Ordinary level or Advanced level?   What is education assisting in that regard Mr. President?

 The parent’s background is important in shaping what type of a person a child becomes, coupled with educational environment.  Recently, a police commissioner said that we should be forgiven because the recruits only come to the police training centre for six months and that they become thieves since they grew up with their parents.  Charity begins at home. 

Mr. President, we are too much of a talk shop, we do not walk the talk.  Those that have money and want children to have their rights exercised, should work hand in glove with the Ministry of Social Welfare.  When a girl who is at school falls pregnant, they should look at the root cause.  A child leaves home with cakes, mineral water and a soft drink (Mazoe) but they leave school because they have fallen pregnant.  Is it because of poverty for them to have fallen pregnant? It is because of their culture.  We should go back to where we started.  If we were to go back there, maybe things will turn out to be better.

I recall when we had our inheritance from these whites; when the whites were still in, they would leave school and once they go to the family home, the gate is locked. They would only see their friends at school.  Parents should supervise their children so that they do not have any night activities.  However, currently a question was posed in this august House on whether we could call the church leaders so that we could talk to them but there was no response.  The Ministry of Home Affairs, the Ministry of Social Welfare, denied responsibility. He said some of these things are emanating from the church.  I recall one year when I was in Magunje where I come from, all Government leaders were there, there was a councillor who was a member of the Apostolic Faith Sect who said in their church, if a girl child is eight years old and does not complain during sexual intercourse, then she is good and fine. It means she can become a wife.  It ended there because no clarity was then sought.  It is a sad issue indeed; we must follow the laws of this country that if a child is below the age of 18 years, they should not be married.

Barely, a long period had elapsed when we talked about what should happen to such people that promote child marriages. We said we could even come up with those that are going to be held as an example.  It was like those years when the freedom fighters came to Mbare and anyone who was involved in pick pocketing, when they were court, a bus would be used to run over that hand.  The issue of pick-pocketing at Mbare decreased because this acted as a deterrent menace. 

Deterrent measures have been discussed many times at women’s fora that the men should have their manhood castrated and it will be viewed by everyone so that people can be deterred from that.  I thank you.

*HON. SEN. CHIMBUDZI: Thank you Mr. President.  I want to add a few words on such a good motion that has been raised by Senator Mohadi seconded by Senator Chipanga.  It is an important motion for us as a country.   Educated as we are, we find ourselves with this problem of early child marriages. We used to swim in the same pool with boys but no mischief took place because we respected our culture.  We used to live with aunts and we would be guided on how to live.  We would be told about the pros and cons of certain behaviours.  The modern life we now live is detrimental to our culture.  We no longer have that social unity we used to enjoy.  The family unity has crumbled.  We no longer have extended families pulling up together and no family gatherings are held to guide the family on how best to live.

          I am grateful that as a country, we have such laws and yet this has become a world problem, which also affects Zimbabwe.  Mashonaland Central is at 50%, I am happy that my chiefs are hearing it for themselves, Hon. Chief Chisunga and Hon. Chief Nembire.  We have the highest figure of child marriages but what are we saying about it?  Let me hasten to say that in this august House, we should not lose heart because we have debated this motion on several occasions.  We should be talking about it until we find a solution.

          If we had money, we could urge our Thematic Committee on Gender to go and conduct outreach in these areas where there are high figures of 50% plus.  The Committee which is chaired by Hon. Senator Makore, in their report touched on such aspects of early child marriages.  The said Committee should be funded to go into such areas to find out if this 52% is mainly coming from the mines and farms.  It cannot only be these two sectors.  What also causes that is the family unity, where there is no respect between the father and mother.  A child might decide to leave the homestead because you will always be at loggerheads infront of children.

          Some take their positions at workplaces to look down upon their spouses, that is wrong.  Children will not learn anything good out of that.  When they are in schools, they discuss and find that other families do not live like that, it pains them.   Others have married in terms of the Marriage Act, Chapter 511 but they do not love their husbands.  How come you now find defects on your husband after you have been married for so long?   Let us change our attitudes towards our families.  If parents do not behave well, children will run away from us; they will accuse us for our behaviour. 

          When you try to remonstrate them, they will openly tell you that they are also acting likewise we have taken after.  So, how then do you stop them from doing this?  I reiterate that the Thematic Committee be given funds so that it can come up with some solutions.  I urge all of us as parents, to remember that our children belong to us not to the teachers. 

I once gave an example of a woman called Mamoyo who was known for being cheeky to her husband and not to everyone else.  When it was time for tea, the community would know it because the husband wore an apron labeled tanganda.  During lunch time, the man wore an apron written royco usavi mix.  This is not good at all.  It does not give us a good standing in society.

          We are educated but I do not know where our problem is, educated as we are.  Let us go back to the basics and find out why we are failing to come up with a solution to this problem.  Let us correct such a problem.  We should not blame the teacher for the behaviour of our children; those children belong to us not the teacher.  Children learn from their parents.  Let us have characters, as parents that are beyond reproach.  Chiefs will have fewer problems to deal with and we will have families which are intact, well mannered and admirable.  Thank you once again Senator Mohadi and Senator Chipanga for raising this important motion but we have not yet come up with a solution.  Let us take a while longer to come up with a solution that works, so that as Zimbabwe we cannot be ashamed about this. 

          If funds permit, this same Thematic Committee should go outside the country and see how other countries are progressing on the issue of early child marriages.  Do they have the same problems that we have as Zimbabwe?  Such exchange visits will help us to eradicate this particular problem because we would have learnt from other countries.  Thank you Mr. President.

          +HON. SEN. JUBA: Thank you Mr. President.  I would like to thank those who brought this motion to the House.  I will say something different from what has been said.  Have you seen how these young children are going after elderly men?  They are going out of their way to look for men.  Our children are now wild, they do not understand at all.  They have lost all respect.  I do not know how we can end this.  Our children no longer go after people of their age because they say if they go after the young ones, they will leave them for South Africa.

          If you look at these children – there is a lady in Hwange who asked her child why she was doing that.  She answered by saying, what were you doing when I was doing this.  Honestly, this time it is the girls who are going after boys, this is not a secret.  Again, a lot of policemen are young, some of them have been suspended from work because of these girls.  These young girls now go after men. Even if the mother is good and well behaved, you will be surprised that the child is going after boys. You can ask the mother or even the teacher.  If you go to the teacher and ask how the child is performing at school, the child will tell you that, I will go and report you to the police because you are abusing me.  The child will report you to the police, but we cannot do that because you cannot assault your child.  What used to happen when we were still at school is that, teachers used to beat us and we would not report that at home.

However, today, it is us the mothers who are going to complain to the teachers asking them, why did you assault my child?  What do you expect the teacher to do?  I am worried about mothers, we are all women and giving birth is the same.  There is no one with four legs.  I am blaming our daughters, they are going after the boys and the boy ends up asking the girl to stay with him.  However, as soon as the girl bears children, the boy will no longer be interested in her again.  I am now an old woman and it is very painful if your daughter bears a child with a Khumalo, brings the child back to you and another daughter brings back four whilst the other one brings six; no, what is happening?  It is tough outside there, even the chiefs know that these children are very naughty and you cannot be able to explain it.  The children have no respect whatsoever but they are born of well-respected parents.  Even if you report them to the chief, the chief will not be able to do anything.

Honestly, I do not know what we can do.  When we were growing up, our parents were very proud of their daughters and people would refer others to say, you should look at so and so’s daughter, but now all of them, be it a Ncube or Khumalo, they are doing all sorts of bad things.  As parents and Hon. Members, let us go and talk to our children because our children are so naughty and disrespectful.  It is not only happening in Matebeleland North, it is worse there because there is a mine.  I asked one of the children, young as you are, why are you going to the drinking bar, are you sure you will survive these diseases?  The child replied; “do you not also know that you are going to die?”  I said, yes I am old and I will die and the child replied, “yes, I will also die.”

I am wondering where this world is leading to.  When I had my last born child who is now aged 23, I had a problem because the doctor left some cotton wool inside me.  If I was young, say 15 years of age at that time, do you think I would have survived?  I would not have survived because a child’s body is not as strong as that of an adult.  This is what we say in Ndebele, your body has to be strong, but our children are very young and their bodies are still tender.  With these children, you cannot teach them anything because they never listen.  I thank you Mr. President.

+HON. SEN. BHEBE:  Thank you Mr. President for affording me this opportunity to add a few words.  Firstly, I would like to thank Hon. Sen. Mohadi for bringing this motion and the seconder Hon. Sen. Chipanga.  I was driven by the motion to say something on the issues raised, especially on the issue of child marriage or children who give birth at a young age.  I have heard some Hon. Members speaking about things they are unhappy about, especially that we should assist each other as Zimbabweans.  A law should be enacted, if it is possible.  Although people will not adhere to it, it is better to have an Act of Parliament that stipulates when one can start bearing children.

I remember when we were young, people used to go out in the bush where there were rivers and bath.  Boys and girls would bath and girls who would have reached puberty bathed at the same place and there was no problem. There was nothing wrong.  If one failed to come out of the river, boys would carry you out on their backs.  However, today you cannot bath in the presence of a five year old child because they now know the nakedness of a person.  I do not know what they are eating that makes them to do that.  I do not know where we are going wrong as already said by one Hon. Member.

I think this is a problem in the whole of Africa, that children are having a very difficult time.  Maybe it is a result of not going to school or the population is increasing and no one listens to anyone.  I know that a teacher is given a certain number of pupils in a class whom he/she will be able to control.  However, we are too many and maybe it is difficult to control us.  I know there are certain churches where girls are examined for purity.  Girls did not want to break the church regulations because they knew that every month of August, they would be examined.  There are human rights activists who started complaining that the children were being abused and that it was not a good thing to examine the children and it created some problems.  This paves way for children to have too much freedom and also when we come to what they wear, you will find that what they are wearing now, the top will be too short and the trousers down there and this part of the body will be exposed. At Mbare, I remember one time a girl was stripped because they said that she was already walking naked. I know that some our children are big and men think that maybe she is grown up because of her body. For us who have children from what Hon. Chimbudzi said; we must teach our children, charity begins at home.

So let us start teaching them at home because we live with these children on a daily basis.  Let us try and pick up the Bible and start talking about the Bible, telling them that God says children should listen to their parents. You should tell the children, ‘I do not want you to dress like this, but I want you to dress like that.’ If I teach my children that and my neighbour teaches her own children to do that, I think that will be better.

For those who attend or who go to the hospital, for some Hon. Members, if you go the hospital, it is a sorry sight. Some of the children like grade 7 pupils are impregnated by the teachers because the child attracts the teacher. She goes out of her way to make sure that the teacher notices her. I do not know what SADC can really do to stop or prevent these children from getting into early marriages. They must grow up first. For me when I was growing up, I was very thin and I was so scared of getting married, but I know that some are not afraid. Where I came from in Kezi, boys go after these young girls at times and some of them are very young , some are impregnated and because some of these children are being looked after by their grannies, the grannies end up chasing them away to say go and stay with your men. I do not really what can be done by the Government to try and protect the girl child.

I know the boy child is also affected. As it is now, us as parents -we are afraid when our children go to school. When you child finishes ‘O’ level, you really thank God that your child has completed her ‘O’ levels. So we thank the Lord for that, but we must try as Governments to try and enact laws that prevent children from bad habits. If these children are no longer going to school, then something must be done for them to start working or using their own hands- maybe like carpentry and other things. I think it is much better and keeps them busy. Instead of the child going to work for Mrs. Bhebhe and so, on, someone will notice the child the child will get impregnated. However, but if there are other places where they can be kept doing something, keeping them busy, it really prevents them from these marriages. I also wanted to add my few words, with those words I thank you Mr. President.

*HON. SEN. MAWIRE: Thank you Mr. President. I had not decided to speak on this motion but I have realised that this is an important issue. When I perused the issue, I would first and foremost want to thank the mover of the motion Hon. Sen. Mohadi and her seconder Hon. Sen. Chipanga.

Thank you for raising such a motion.  I have heard those  that have spoken on this motion saying that I should speak very strongly about this motion because we have spoken about it several times and there is no solution at the end of the line. I believe that the more we speak about it, the more we come out with the solution. Some have spoken and have given an example, of what happened in the past, and others about the future. My analysis of these issues is that we lost our track when we lost our traditional culture and adopted foreign cultures. Our grandmothers and our mothers before us during the time when they grew up, the girl child was looked down upon. By the time they got to do standard 3, the girl child would be assumed to be well educated and they would not proceed further. During our time we ended in grade 7 as girl children.

Upon attainment of our independence in 1980, our Government did well  when they promoted the women and granted them equal rights. There were equal employment opportunities and other things attendant to them. Education is one such area, but it would appear that problems then come up when there was the equality of the girl child, our country lost track. We failed to appreciate that the equality for the woman meant that in education and work, men and women are equals. We had problems-fights started to emanate in the communal homes, it was aching to us during the time when we grew up. Sen. Chimbudzi, did indicate to us that our discussion in the home and the way we conduct ourselves as spouses will lead to the behaviour that is detrimental to our children’s own lives.

Gone are the days when you would remonstrate with another person’s child.   The parent would also come and vilify you for having played your motherly role. They may even want to tear off their clothes, protesting as to why you were remonstrating with the child and the child having moved around with a man and the manner in which the child danced. The child would listen to the confrontation between the two elders. Gone are the days when we used to be remonstrated by any elder of the family if we misbehaved. Once you were corrected, you would appreciate why you were being chastisised, because you would have erred. We should go back to our culture, these things have their pros and cons. Everything has its own side effects, I did not go there but I learnt that those that are of the Maliwian culture, will take their daughters to the river and discuss issues concerned with womanhood. As the Shonas, I am no longer remembering, but it is the culture that we lost which has led us to go astray, hence our moaning today.

There will be the reed I do not know what that reed was for, maybe it was for virginity testing because children, mainly the girls would be very good in looking after themselves, being afraid that once they fall foul of those rules, they will be stigmatized.  I did not hear anything being made reference to the boys but there was an age where they were allowed to marry.  We should not look at the girl child only.  I was also of the belief that it is now better.  Central Government has come up with education and they have granted us equal rights.  They have said that the girl child should be granted the opportunity to uplift themselves. It is a good thing, the girl child is now going to school.    

We should not have this problem of early child marriage because we are now educated but again, we see that we have problems from these enlightened people who should understand the dangers of child marriages.  Since they will not be going to school, the old man would not want you to go to work.  Maybe he could have several children and want to multiply like the sand.  It will be a waste for the education that you have received.  We should not be having a problem of early marriages because of our levels of sophistication, which have gone high.

We even have lessons for culture.  Teachers should be encouraged to teach such subjects.  The traditional leaders in their areas of jurisdiction should hold awareness campaigns with gender committees.  We once had a problem with them.  The women ran around with the programme of women’s rights but when they were busy pursuing that agenda, they lost out on culture and morals because men and women have problems with human rights.  There was a misinterpretation.  The woman could tell her husband that you have come late, your meal is over there and I am already in bed.  They do not wake up.  Our mothers could spend the night awake, waiting to receive the father and give him his evening meal.  As women we tend to do things the wrong way. 

We have given rights to our children and we now have repercussions coming out of these rights.  We have that jealous in teaching our brothers’ children.  The old women, the Mawires are now girls; let us go back to our culture.  I thank you Mr. President. 

*HON. SEN. MASHAVAKURE:  Thank you Mr. President.  I thank the mover of such a good motion, Hon. Sen. Mohadi seconded by Hon. Sen. Chipanga.  I am happy but I have not yet read the model law.  I did not understand what happens to someone after the age of 18.  If there is that absence, maybe it is a good law and we can use it.  Everyone is talking about the global village, which is self-explanatory be it Mongolians, Liberians, Zimbabweans and the world over are assumed to live in a manner that is similar or there should be uniformity in terms of our behaviour, sophistication and everything.  If you are not in sync with the global village, it means that you will have been left behind.  So, if we look at the global village, it does not have a culture.  It is not very good.  It has its own cons rather than pros.

Due to the global village, it is where the school of thought is there that the children can get married at a young age.  Physically, they will not be mature enough to become fathers and mothers.  We are educated as a country but there are two types of education.  You could have attained academic excellence and there is the school of life where you learn to reason.  There is that education where you are able to read and write.  Literacy merely means that you are able to read and write.  There are those that are well-educated but cannot utilise the good education that they have acquired to the benefit of our community.  Are we able to extract from the global community the good things that come with globalization and leave those that are detrimental to our own culture?  We should not be taking hook, line and sinker everything that is owned by the global village. 

Our level of education should be able to ensure that we go back to the basics and incorporate good manners and morals from our culture.  There are organisations for the rights of the children.  A child has rights and that right should not be taken away.  The child is taught about those rights but it is unfortunate that those that teach the children about their rights are elderly people.  So, they are urging children to rebel against their teachers and parents.  If your father tells you not to go to the video clubs as what other young men will be doing in the area, you are being oppressed. Such rights, when interpreted in that form have made our culture redundant.  We no longer have children respecting their parents in terms of our culture. 

This so assumed high level of literacy should put us in better stead, that we be able to take out the good from the bad.  At political level, we should be able to come up with the good and the bad things that should be done.  What may be good today may not necessarily be good tomorrow.  We should have the vision to see what is good for us.  If a meal of sadza has not been consumed the previous day, in the morning it turns out to be worse off and it may not be suitable for consumption.  We should throw it away. The same line of thinking should be put into use. 

Coming to technology, the smart phones also have problems.  People can discuss on such forums.  The majority of youths in the urban areas have such devices and can arrange to meet somewhere.  Some that are sophisticated can use the WhatsApp forum and a lot of things can be arranged.  E-mails and internet can also be used.  They can search on Google and they can even see pornography.  That is meant to make children rebel.  You could even see that the video clubs are seeing pornographic materials because there are such people that specialize in coming up with the material.  The child will not go to school from 0700 to 1200 hours, they will be at the vigil club and the parent might assume that the child is in school whilst they are not at Mhofu Primary School, where they were learning. Such deviant behaviour is not good because a child will spend their time at the movies instead of at school. Such movies can be seen on televisions and at cinema houses and these movies have changed the children’s mentality. Even parents in this Parliament will leave this place around 1900 hours. I recall one day when the National Assembly finished at 2100 hours and the children will have no father or mother to look after them. The children will be free to do as they please. That may be detrimental to our children. This is the type of life that we are living today and it is detrimental to our way of living. We should come up with solutions to such a problem. We may want to go the world over to look for solutions but I observed that even in the SADC region, there are problems in some of these countries.

          A lot of my friends are teaching in South Africa. A friend of mine who was teaching Physics – I was teaching but not science subjects – but we were good friends. When he came back to process his papers, he was laughing and saying that 10 girls in his classroom were pregnant. He went to see the principal on why the girls were pregnant, he was told to mind his business and just teach them because it is South Africa. What causes that is that the child gets money when they give birth and there are certain social security measures that are put in place where they benefit. So, it is a money making venture for the children.

          Around 2004 there was a celebrity called Sarah Paylin in United States of America who wanted to become President. She had a 17 year old daughter who also had her own daughter. It is all over and it is not akin to Zimbabwe.  There is now less control of the children. Some people support it because they say it is children’s rights and human rights but it shows that there is now chaos in the way of living of a country. This needs to be remedied so that life can go on very well. I would want to believe that we should take this model law and look at it more closely and come up with those things that are good for Zimbabwe and leave out those that are detrimental to our country and make our own additions. That way we will be able to progress. I thank you Mr. President.

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

          HON. SEN. MASUKU: I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume: Thursday, 16th February, 2017.

          On the motion of SENATOR MASUKU seconded by SENATOR MOHADI, the Senate adjourned at Fifteen Minutes past Four o’clock p.m.

 

 

 

Senate Hansard SENATE HANSARD 15 FEBRUARY 2017 VOL 26 NO 29