Zimbabwe pushes to abolish death sentence
By Zvamaida Murwira
Government wants to abolish the death penalty with plans already afoot to push for debate on Constitutional amendments to end death by hanging in line with international trends to do away with capital punishment, a Cabinet Minister has said.
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said President Mnangagwa wants the death penalty banned.
He said Zimbabwe had streamlined categories of people liable for the death penalty to underscore its resentment of capital punishment.
Minister Ziyambi said this on Monday while giving oral evidence before a Senate thematic committee which wanted to be updated on the human rights situation in the country.
Committee chairperson Sen Oliver Chidawu (Zanu-PF) asked Minister Ziyambi how far Government had gone towards abolishing the death penalty.
Minister Ziyambi said Zimbabwe had not executed convicts on the death row since 2005.
“From 2005 we have had no execution. The 2013 Constitution was an improvement from the previous one in that women can no longer be sentenced to death; those under the age of 21 are no longer sentenced to death, those over 70 are spared the death penalty,” said Minister Ziyambi.
“Only males over 21 and below 70 can be sentenced to death, which we believe is a great improvement from the previous position that we had. The status quo was as a result of the consultation that was done through Constitutional Parliamentary Committee (Copac). There was a vote that let us leave it there for now and this was captured in the Constitution,” he said.
“The President is desirous that we remove it but that will also entail us amending the Constitution to ensure that is taken care of. But over and above that, I think we have done a lot to ensure that we respect the right to life. We have not been executing (convicts) and we have limited the category of people who can be sentenced to death,” he said.
Minister Ziyambi said through debate in Parliament legislators should decide whether to remove the death penalty or not.
“I believe we are moving in line with what other countries are doing. Today (Monday) at the United Nations there is going to be a vote on a moratorium on the death penalty.
Countries are voting to say even those on the death row can you give them a moratorium. You will agree that even when His Excellency was inaugurated in November, one of the first things he did was to commute part of death penalty (verdicts) to life sentence,” said Minister Ziyambi. The Herald