Zimbabwe: Repeal Vagrancy Law - Parliament

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Parliamentarians have called on Government to repeal the Vagrancy Act as it criminalises poverty and discriminate against homeless people in contravention of the Constitution.

The motion to repeal the law was moved in the National Assembly by Bubi legislator Cde Sonny Mguni.

The Vagrancy Act was enacted in 1964 and empowers the police to arrest vagrants or anyone who encourages another person to become a vagrant.

In his motion, Cde Mguni said the Constitution provided for equality and non-discrimination based on nationality, race, colour, tribe, or economic or social status.

He added that the Vagrancy Act did not safeguard the interests of vulnerable people and called on Government on promote the rehabilitation of vulnerable people, particularly those without homes and children.

"An increasing number of children are being forced to the streets as a result of poverty, abuse, torture, rape, abandonment or have been orphaned by the Aids pandemic," he said.

Cde Mguni said there was need to address the plight of children living on the streets as the family unit had disintegrated due to the economic hardships being faced by many people.

Umzingwane legislator Cde Levi Mayihlome said the law criminalised poverty.

"This law says a vagrant is a person of no fixed abode and a person who wanders from place to place without cause," he said.

"It criminalises these kinds of persons and it also criminalises the people who were giving them help, assistance or protectiveness. So, it becomes a kind of a crime to be poor, a crime to be homeless, a crime to be a destitute, a crime without employment and a crime to be without shelter."

He added it was time that society addresses the problem and show a human face as a country.

"Let us lead by example, Zimbabweans are known to be peace loving. Let us integrate these people back to society. Let us find ways of resettling them," he said.

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