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Thursday, 27 October 2016

NTJWGZ discussion: RDZ’s Sibanda breaks into tears for Lynda Masarira

Upenyu Chaota/
Ntombiyolwandle Ndlovu

- Elton Mangoma's Renewal Democrats of Zimbabwe (RDZ) Masvingo provincial chair lady, Hilda Sibanda last week broke into tears as she narrated the ordeal faced by women at the hands of state security forces.
Making a presentation during a dialogue meeting jointly facilitated by the National Transitional Justice Working Group Zimbabwe (NTJWGZ) and TellZim News, a teary Sibanda accused state security forces for ill-treating women who are in detention singling out the recent experience of Lynda Masarira at the hands of the police.
People were horrified late last month when a brutalised Masarira emerged from three months of detention with scarred buttocks.
"Today I want to speak on the side of all women. You find out that during the recent wave of protests which rocked the country, the police used a heavy hand against the demonstrators among them women whom they ill-treated.
"Women have had a torrid time in the political history of this country. They have been victimised from all corners.
"During the 2008 run-off elections women were gang raped and many of them have children whom they do not know their fathers. They have been scarred for life and the government just turned the page and no attempts were made to bring the perpetrators to justice," said Sibanda.
Masarira was arrested in June for participating in protests against the government and was then transferred to solitary confinement in a male section of the Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison after she protested harsh prison conditions.
Sibanda claimed that all the women who were detained recently over protests in Harare where flogged and put in same cells with men thus exposing them to rape.
"Lynda Masarira was arrested and was put in the same cell with male prisoners. Where in the world would you hear of anything like that?
"Her rights were violated and nothing happened to the abusive police officers. It would help if we hear that the abusive police officers have been arrested or the government pay some form of compensation to the victim," said Sibanda before breaking into

Villagers live without water as Zinwa fails to pay Zesa bills

Isabel Ndlovu

– Ukuso village is suffering from water shortages after the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) cut power supplies to the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) in response to the water company's failure to service its electricity bills.
Indications are that Zinwa owes the power utility about US$80 000 in unpaid bills and the ward 11 village has been suffering the consequences since September.
A villager who spoke to TellZim News accused one Licent Nkomo from Zinwa for lying to the villagers that water was no longer being pumped to their village because of mechanical faults at the pumps.
"Nkomo and his colleagues used to come here often to collect money for water bills and they would go door to door collecting the money but now that we are having water problems, he is playing hide and seek," said the villager.
Other villagers complained that they are being levied for water they are not even receiving.
When contacted for comment, Nkomo confirmed that people were not receiving water because Zesa had cut electricity supplies to the pumps because of arrears but refused to make further

Where to after con-court ruling on anti-child marriages?

Itai Muzondo

As she walks down the street, she struggles to take the next step and fears to face the world as she will now be called irresponsible young girl in the community after she fell pregnant while in school.

At 16, she is not spared from any woman's burden; the often uncomfortable signs of pregnancy, possible complications on delivery and above all, how to cope with life as a young uneducated and unemployed mother.

Prisca Mapeture (not real name) has since been abandoned by the father of the baby she is carrying because the law does not allow marriage of children under the age of 18.

Prisca's ordeal comes in the aftermath of the landmark Concourt anti-child marriage ruling in January 2016.

"I could not push my boyfriend to marry me as he explained that he would get arrested," Prisca says.

"I thought it was reasonable to protect him for the benefit of our baby. Even my parents advised me the same after they met him. Surprisingly, he has since disappeared without a word," she says.

The 17 year old boyfriend, Mpumelelo Ndlovu (not real name) has not been communicating for a while now.

Zimbabwe is, however, a signatory to various international statutes such as the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Analysts say Zimbabwe has failed to domesticate these statutes and also failed to harmonise the marriage laws in order to make it easy to prosecute offenders, thus the emergence of such situations.

The law actually lacks provision to prosecute people who have sexual relations with teens between 16 and 18 years old.

Section 70 of the Criminal and Codification Act of Zimbabwe says, "…where a male person engages in extra marital sexual intercourse or anal intercourse, or physical contact that a reasonable person would consider indecent with a female young person, with knowledge that the young person in under the age of 16, will be found guilty of an offence, regardless of whether the young person consented to the act."

The Act evidently does not protect children from marriage.

The Act further contradicts with the definition given to child marriage.

UNICEF defines child marriages as, "…couples who are formally married, or who live together as a sexually active couple in an informal union, with at least one member usually the girl being less than 18 years old."

The Marriage Act [Chapter 5:11] also provides that a girl between the ages of 16 and 18 may, with the joint consent of her mother and father, enter into a civil marriage under the Marriage Act. The Marriage Act prohibits the marriage of girl children below the age of 16 years. The Marriage Act does not however permit a boy below the age of 18 years to contract a marriage under the Marriage Act.

This leaves room for perverts to sexually exploit 16 and 17 year old girls and get away with it as the law punishes not engaging in sexual relations with such girls but marrying them.

"Currently, I have nowhere and I feel rejected. I am subjected to harsh criticism and abuse by relatives," says a tearful Prisca.

Dewa Mavhinga, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch had this to say about child marriages.

"The Zimbabwean government should show that it is serious about tackling the scourge of child marriage and raise the minimum age to 18. The future of millions of African girls depends on African leaders taking action to end a devastating practice that robs girls of education and exposes them to abuse," says Mavhinga.

Legal expert and human rights defender, Martin Mureri of Matutu and Mureri Legal Practitioners said the loophole can only be sealed by aligning laws to the new constitution.

"Look into this issue critically; the constitution is clear that marrying someone under the age of 18 is illegal. Any other law, practice, custom or conduct inconsistent with it is invalid to the extent of its inconsistency. Without aligning marriage customs, as spelled out in Section 70 of the Criminal Codification Act, to the constitution, we will remain static in this fight," he said.

In October 2014, two former child brides, Loveness Mudzuru and Ruvimbo Tsopodzi asked the Constitutional Court to have child marriage made a criminal offense and declared unconstitutional. They asked the court to declare 18 the minimum age for marriage and to have all marriage laws amended.

The government opposed the claim on the grounds that the applicants had not been forced into marriages, but had "simply opted to live in unregistered unions when they were minors".

Since the Marriages Act permits girls to marry at 16 and boys at 18, "the differentiation arises from biological and psychological maturity levels for boys and girls."

A Chiredzi legislator, who is also part of parliament team researching on the effects of child marriages across the country, Mucharairwa Mugidho, said there is urgent need to enact a law that deals solely with child marriages.

"There is an urgent need to enact a law that protects our young ones from child marriages. We have since decided as a committee to move a motion in parliament proposing an act that stipulates 18 as the rightful age for marriage. We also wish to have a law that works hand in glove with the constitution so that loopholes leading to early marriages today will be dealt with," Mugidho said.

In a report, Legal Resources Foundation (LRF) suggests that if a law condoning child marriages is to be enacted, it should make marriage registration compulsory.

"National response mechanisms have overlooked the fact that the registrations of births and marriages will assist in combating child marriages. Although registration of births is compulsory, the law does not make the registration of marriages compulsory. Therefore if a law that tackles child marriages is to be enacted, it should make registration of marriages compulsory," the report

Zanu PF at its weakest: War Vets

Black Jesus did not want bond notes - Mahiya

TellZim Reporter

Outspoken war veteran leaders Victor Matemadanda and Douglas Mahiya have said Zanu PF is at its weakest point since its formation and have predicted a defeat of the party in the 2018 elections.
The war veterans leadership said Zimbabweans are fed up with the ruling party's bad governance, corruption and poor service delivery.
Speaking to this publication at the side lines of the burial of Francis Zimuto, popularly known as Black Jesus, in Gutu last weekend, Mahiya said it will be very difficult for Zanu PF to win any election without the support of war veterans.
Mahiya, who claimed to have served Zanu PF for the past 46 years, said the party had allowed itself to be infiltrated by selfish individuals who are only there to loot state resources.
He castigated the current dishing out of stands to the Zanu PF youths saying that was a sign of a failed government.
"I have never seen such shallowness of mind and desperation…the party has hijacked the duty of the local authority. It is Kasukuwere who is enriching himself – there is nothing like youth empowerment," said Mahiya.
"We have lost the Norton by-election because the party has been hijacked by thugs and arrogant people who are after looting state resources….I can confidently tell you that Zanu PF will lose the next election if the commissariat continue to side-line war veterans.
"They continue to kick people out of the party so that they loot resources without reckless abandon but one day, the party will follow the people and Zanu PF will lose," said Mahiya.
Turning to President Robert Mugabe, Mahiya said the veteran leader has allowed himself to be corrupted by the commissariat.
"You have seen that the party is failing … the people expect a lot from the government but it is unfortunate that there is bad governance and corruption in the government. Under normal circumstances, the CEO of a poorly performing company must just resign," added Mahiya.
Mahiya who described the late Black Jesus as 'a fearless man who did not tell the king what he wants to hear', said Zimbabweans must be firm in rejecting the bond notes.
"We must be united in rejecting the bond notes. Even Black Jesus called me and told me that he was against bond notes. We still stand with the view that the proposed bond notes are coming to enrich the few individuals in Zanu PF," added Mahiya.
Matemadanda, who also predicted Zanu PF's demise in the next elections, said it was unfortunate that some few individuals had hijacked the revolutionary party.
"I can tell you that Black Jesus' death has come as a very heavy blow to us…he stood for the truth and he could not hide whatever he wanted to say. We need such people for Zimbabwe to move forward, however, it is unfortunate that war veterans are being ill-treated on daily basis," said Matemadanda.
Matemadanda reminded Zanu PF that no one had the right to claim ownership of the revolution.
"No one owns the revolution, we have been telling them that we do not want corruption in Zimbabwe…how can we celebrate our freedom when others are suppressing the people. We shall continue to fight.
"Zanu PF has a tendency of blaming the West for everything instead of self-introspecting. It is us who are failing, we can't continue blaming the Western countries for everything," said
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