Death penalty abolishment debate gets traction in Parly

BY VENERANDA LANGA

PARLIAMENT on Tuesday began debating a motion advocating for the abolishment of the death penalty.

Proportional representation MP Dorcas Sibanda (MDC Alliance) moved the motion in the National Assembly, which was widely supported by several legislators, although others were sceptical about its effectiveness.

She told the House that it was traumatising for a prisoner to be on death penalty, and it was inhumane as people make mistakes — even very grievous ones.

“I have been to several countries studying issues of executions and found that there are some that are executed because of political reasons because those that are in control can also control the justice system and then the death penalty can even be passed on an innocent person,” Sibanda said.

“Others are even there because they simply cannot get representation because they have no money to pay lawyers, and I even think that during the colonial era, if Mbuya Nehanda had a competent lawyer to stand for her, she was not going to be executed.”

She said a death sentence did not only affect people on death row, but it also traumatises their families and children.

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“I, therefore, call for a moratorium for those who are on death row. There are 84 people on death row and considering that for the past 14 years, Zimbabwe has not executed anyone, we, therefore, call on government to take it into their heart and think of the hidden victims, the children and families and forgive,” Sibanda said.

Seconder of the motion, Makonde legislator Kindness Paradza (Zanu PF) said the death penalty was old-fashioned and should not be in Zimbabwe’s statutes.

“You all know the story of our President (Emmerson Mnangagwa), he was nearly hanged. In 1995 when I was a journalist, I had an interview with him and he said he does not want anything to do with the death penalty and so he is against it,” Paradza said.

Proportional Representation legislator Miriam Chikukwa (Zanu PF) said before a person was given the death penalty, there should be thorough investigations so that people are not accused falsely.

Kuwadzana MP Miriam Mushayi (MDC Alliance) said the death penalty did not resolve anything, adding that rather, another problem is created by taking away life.

“If we have 84 lives that are just hanging in limbo and we call ourselves a responsible nation, that is unfair,” she said.

Proportional Representation MP Josephine Shava (Zanu PF), however, said those that deliberately cause death to others must face the death penalty.

“If you kill deliberately using machetes, such a person should be given the death penalty so that it reduces cases of murder,” she said.

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