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Our hope is on Mnangagwa

29 Jul 2017 at 11:40hrs | Views
I remember it was in 2013 in Bulawayo in Cowdray Part Surbub at Mukitika Primary School on a Sunday. The COPAC had announced that they will hold a public hearing on the proposed Zimbabwe Constitution. Although the meeting was supposed to be attended by Cowdray Park residence ZANU PF bussed people from nearby plots and farms with an obvious aim to disrupt the hearings. Thanks for the Honourable legislators who were chairing the meeting progressed without any incidence.

After the meeting had been officially opened deliberations started. We first discussed the Bill of Rights. There was a rare unity between ZANU PF and MDC supporters on the Bill of Rights. All people present unanimously agreed that every Zimbabwean must have a right to life. We agreed that no one must be allowed to take away someone's life for whatever reasons. Christians contended that nobody have a right to take anybody's life except God the life giver. MDC ZANU PF Christians we unanimously agreed on that.

We then moved to the issue of the death penalty or death sentence whether it must be maintained in the constitution or total be removed. There was a contestation of ideas here. It seemed the majority wanted the death sentence to be maintained. Suddenly people changed. It looks like they had completely forgotten what we had agreed under the Bill of Rights. Speaker after speaker stood up to support the idea of maintaining the death sentence in the constitution. I was given a chance to speak. I advocated for the removal of the death sentence reminding the gathering what we had just agreed under the Bill of Right. Unfortunately I was in the minority. When the issue was finally put to vote we lost. People wanted the death sentence to be retained in the New Constitution of Zimbabwe. It was sad.

The death sentence had always a controversial topic. Some people are in support of it some are against it.However, it must be noted that people are being killed throughout the world almost every day, a number are still on death row. Some people are being killed for trivial crimes like "who you sleep with, in others it is reserved for acts of terror and murder." (Amnesty International)

The author is of the view that Zimbabweans made a great mistake in retaining the death sentence in the new constitution which we voted for in 2013.The author advocate for the total removal of the death sentence from our constitution and laws.

According to Amnesty International the death penalty is unfair because before anyone is executed he or she is made to wait for years on the death row. Certain Japanese man was made to wait for 46 years not knowing when his time was to come. In Zimbabwe we have people who are still on the death raw for more than 10 years now. It's unfair.

The death penalty is also cruel, inhuman and degrading. According to Salil Shelty "The death penalty is a symptom of a culture of violence, not a solution to it." Execution methods includes beheading, electrocution, hanging, lethal injection, shooting in the back of the head or shooting by a firing squad. It's so chilling, ruthless, cruel and violent.

The other issue is humans can make errors and judges are not an exception. Let's say someone is erroneously charged and erroneously convicted and sentenced to death and then killed immediately. If at a later stage it is found out that the person was erroneously convicted, it is not possible to reverse the killing of an innocent person.

I had also pointed it out in one of my recent articles that long jail sentences do not deter crime. The idea that long jail terms deter crime hasn't been proven anywhere this includes the death sentence, it doesn't deter crime in any way. Life sentences are rather better than the death sentence in serious crimes.

The death penalty is also discriminatory. The Amnesty International says it is the poor belonging to a "wrong "race, ethnic group, religious minority group, or political party that end up facing the gallows. In Zimbabwe the discrimination is quite glare, it is men only who can be given the death sentence women are spared. We were not told the reasons for this discriminatory nature of sentencing. We all know that 52% of Zimbabwean population are women then why kill the few and spare the majority. Is there any motive to extinguish men in Zimbabwe?

The death penalty breaches two essential human rights: the right to life and right to live a life free from torture. Both rights are protected under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations in 1948, according to Amnesty International. Zimbabwe is a member of United Nations, why are we then killing people violating their rights?

Since 1948 the momentum to ban the death sentence globally is growing. As of 2016 104 countries had totally banned the death penalty including the majority of countries in Southern Africa but Zimbabwe still maintains the death penalty in its laws.

Vice President Mnangagwa who is also the Minister of Justice has been quoted on numerous occasions in the media as saying he is opposed to the death penalty. Recently he crafted the first constitutional amendment which was adopted by parliament. We hope that he will do the honourable thing and craft the second constitutional amendment and remove totally the death sentence from our constitution. I also hope that legislators from ZANU and MDC will unanimously vote and approve the second constitutional amendment to remove the death sentence from the Zimbabwean Constitution.

Etiwel Mutero is an archivist and political commentator.You can contact him on

Source - Etiwel Mutero
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