23 October 2017

Zimbabwe: Child Marriages Draft Bill Complete

Photo: The Herald
(File photo).

Government has completed drafting a Bill, which outlaws child marriages in line with the provisions of the Constitution, newly appointed Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Retired Major-General Happyton Bonyongwe has said.

Addressing Beitbridge residents during an advocacy meeting held last week, Minister Bonyongwe said the Bill had been sent to Cabinet for approval. The meeting was held to outline the scope of the constitution, which came into effect in 2013.

Minister Bonyongwe said the initiative would put into legislation the Constitutional Court ruling of January 20, 2016 barring child marriages.

"Government is equally worried with the upsurge in cases of child marriages and an upsurge on issues of sexual abuse against minors and the girl child," he said.

"We have set in motion the processes to bring legislative tools that will accelerate the administration of justice on issues where child marriage and abuse of our children is concerned. Soon after approval by Cabinet, we will take the Bill to Parliament for further action."

Minister Bonyongwe said Government was working on another Bill with proposed life sentence for those convicted on sexually abusing minors. He said those caught outside the law for raping adult women would be jailed for at least 40 years.

"The other part of the proposal is to have those convicted of rape and wilful transmission of HIV and Aids to the survivors should be jailed for at least 40 years," he said.

"The need to create a peaceful society where sexual abuse is outlawed cannot be over emphasized."

Government, he said, made significant progress in terms of aligning the laws with the Constitution and was looking at completing the process by the end of next year.

Minister Bonyongwe said his ministry was engaged in promoting and outlining the scope of the constitution to all the citizens countrywide.

"So far we have translated the Constitution into eight languages including Shona, Ndebele, Sotho, Tonga, Venda, Nambia, Kalanga and Braille," he said.

"Further, my ministry, in partnership with the National Constitution Translation Committee, a consortium of six universities, is working towards the translation of the constitution into other vernacular languages. It is envisaged that the translation project will be completed in 2018."

Minister Bonyongwe said Government had printed 500 000 copies of the constitution and a further 350 000 abridged versions in other languages.

He said they developed 4 000 copies of braille for the benefit of those visually impaired.

"It is important for us to unpack the scope of our own home grown constitution which replaced the negotiated Lancaster House constitution on 22 May 2013," said Minister Bonyongwe.

"Adoption of the Constitution, which consolidates the aspirations and wishes of our living and late gallant fighters such as President Robert Gabriel Mugabe, the late nationalist Joshua Nyongolo Mqabuko Nkomo, Cephas Cele, George Silinduka and many more is a monumental achievement."

Minister Bonyongwe said it was also critical for Government to promote the country's supreme law to become a living and helpful document.

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