The work of Parliamentarians is only partly about being in the House of Assembly and providing both their legislative and oversight functions and communicate with their constituencies. This present report - a pilot study was conducted with women in Zimbabwe, to explore their views and perception on the overall work and performance that Parliamentarians undertake on their behalf in Parliament.
This paper suggests that it is hypocritical to claim that Biblical injunctions against homosexuality in Leviticus and deduced from the story of Sodom and Gomorrah are part of the the eternal and immutable word of the Lord, and then to revert to dispositionalism and temporal relativism when it comes to Biblical prescripts in relation to sex, sexuality and gender - particularly in regard to child marriage. The same approach is paralleled in regard to "traditional African culture".
Ahead of the crucial ZANU PF Congress of December 2014, RAU, together with the Zimbabwe NGO Forum, published The Mortal Remains: Succession and the ZANU PF Body Politic a paper which examined the issue of succession to President Robert Mugabe, viewed against both the State and ZANU PF Party Constitutions. That paper considered the ZANU PF Congresses of 1999, 2004 and 2009 in some detail. It is thus appropriate, given the importance of the 2014 Congress to the dynamics of succession and the ZANU PF body politic, that the paper be supplemented by this lengthy addendum, even if the issue has already been widely commented upon.
The essay details the drama around ZANU PF’s 6th National Congress, intending to bring together the many reports about the saga, and the often multifaceted and simultaneous events, into one continuous narrative, only fully coherent in retrospect.
Derek Matyszak RAU 15.07.15
This report was first published in January 2013. Due to its relevance to recent public debates, it has now been reissued.
In February 2012, Zimbabwe was reviewed by the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (the CEDAW Committee) in line with the state’s obligations under CEDAW. Among the many recommendations that the Committee made were specific points relating to the issue of marriages in Zimbabwe. The Committee noted the prevalence of child marriages as one of the biggest challenges to girls' access to education. The Committee also expressed its concern with the continued discrimination against women by customary laws and practices in relation to divorce/separation, inheritance and property rights, and noted that the continued existence of a variety of marriage laws which give different rights to men and women, in particular that the practice of polygamy and lobola, continue to discriminate against women.
However, despite the release of a White Paper addressing these issues in 2004, today - eight years later - no fundamental changes can be seen in the marriage system. Although the Attorney-General’s office (the AG’s office) announced in the latter half of 2011 that it was now harmonising the marriage laws, the process has dragged on. Consequently, women continue to fall headlong into the gaping hole that is the chaotic marriage system in Zimbabwe.
In the months of January and February 2012, RAU facilitated eleven focus group discussions with a representative sample of 160 women from nine different provinces in Zimbabwe. It was agreed that research should be conducted to determine the views of the women regarding marriage certificates and marriages in Zimbabwe. Those views are captured in this report, highlighting the need to raise awareness so that all women understand the different types of marriages available, as well as the consequences that each marriage type represents in their lives. The women’s views flag the urgent need for reforms to the marriage system in Zimbabwe to be expedited with such swiftness as to reflect the urgency of the situation, bearing in mind the dire consequences that the current system has on women and children every single day.
Rumbidzai Dube, Senior Researcher RAU, January 2013.
On 1st July 2015 the Constitutional Court declared that Emmerson Mnangagwa did not hold the posts of Vice-President and Minister of Justice simultaneously as he had not in fact been appointed to the latter post - he had merely been assigned to administer it. The ruling was in the face of abundance evidence suggesting that Mnangagwa either had been appointed as Minister of Justice or was simply regarded by Mugabe as continuing in this post. Justice Malaba was certainly right in believing that Mnangagwa could not simply continue as Justice Minister. On appointment as Vice-President, by virtue of the Constitution, the person so appointed immediately loses his or her seat in Parliament - and all Ministers must hold a seat in Parliament, unless they are one of five Ministers the President may appoint from outside Parliament. Mnangagwa could not constitutionally be one of these five as at the time he became Vice-President all these slots were filled. In declaring that Mnangagwa is not a Minister, constitutionalism has been restored to the extend it may have been necessary. One problem remains, however. Mugabe has proceeded as if Mnangagwa was the Minister of Justice and some 96 important pieces of legislation remain, in terms of S.I 23 of 2014, assigned to a non-existent Minister of Justice. This position needs to be rectified and the administration of the Acts assigned to the Vice President, as is permitted by the Constitution as read with the Interpretation Act.
Informal trading in the form of street vending has become in recent years a common feature in cities across Zimbabwe.
The Central Business Districts (CBDs) are inundated with vendors stationed at street corners, some stationed at traffic lights, others selling their wares on street pavements and some in parking lots at shopping centres. It has created tension between the traders and the City Councils who regulate and enforce these municipal laws.
The Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU), in response to this growing phenomenon, undertook a snap survey in April 2015, and interviewed street vendors in the greater Harare CBD and neighbouring suburbs; namely Avondale, Kambuzuma, Newlands, Mount Pleasant and Vainona. This survey was conducted:
• To find out the situation of people that are currently vending,
• To document their experiences in this trade and
• To try and ascertain the possible reasons behind the sudden rise in this informal trade.
The bouhaha around Keith Guzah's nomination as a candidate for Hurumgwe West is based upon a single misconception of the law - that a non-party list candidate for the National Assembly must be registered in the constituency in which he or she intends to stand. ZEC has had no coherent response to the criticism because it too has repeatedly misapplied the law in this regard. The Electoral Act does NOT require that a non-party list candidate for the National Assembly must be registered in the constituency in which he or she intends to stand. This requirement only applies to party-list candidates elected on the basis of proportional representation, and even there the requirement is that of registration in a particular province, not constituency - which is why Gono had to be registered in Manicaland. There was no requirement that Guzah should have been registered in Hurungwe West.He was merely required to be registered as a voter, which he was. His nomination was thus perfectly valid.
early marriage it is equally important to be aware of the other underlying issues that foster child marriage.
While it was confirmed that poverty is the biggest driver of child marriage as families, this second study undertaken by the Research and Advocacy Unit was also able to provide empirical evidence on how child marriage is viewed by a community from a cultural perspective.
Drawing on Phenomenology and Critical Realism, the study, which was carried out in the district of Goromonzi sought to understand how the community views marriage, including the phenomenon of early marriage, and possibly child marriage. Women were able to relate their experiences of marriage, how they got into marriage and ways of preventing child marriage.
A key theme that came through in responses is the issue of morality.
The study shows that the interpretation of morality plays a significant role in the manner that thorny issues are resolved.
Any possibility of changing the behaviour and attitudes of communities that encourage child marriage is only likely, if there is an understanding of the more complex and multi-faceted issue of the influence of culture and tradition in decision making processes.
While Zimbabwean is signatory to numerous key global instruments that are strong in seeking protection of children from harmful practices and sexual abuse, certain definitions and clauses in the country’s national policies and law are in contradiction with the government’s regional and international position.
• The Childrens’ Act defines a child as “a person under the age of sixteen years” and a young person as “a person who has attained the age of sixteen years but has not attained the age of eighteen years.”
• The Marriage Act [which governs civil marriage, states that the minimum age of marriage is sixteen for girls and eighteen for boys, differentiating girls from boys by allowing girls to marry early.
• The Customary Marriages Act, [Chapter 5:07] (Act 23/2004) which governs customary marriages at law, does not set a limit to the minimum age at which individuals can marry.
These clauses are inconsistent with the Constitution of Zimbabwe which defines a child as “every boy and girl under the age of eighteen years.‟
These ambiguities are clearly evidenced when looking at the issue of child marriages, especially considering Cisse Mariama Mahomed, AU’s coordinator of the African Committee of Experts on the rights and Welfare of the Child expressed her concern that Zimbabwe is among Africa’s leading countries when it comes to child marriages.
It is with all these nuances in mind that this RAU study sought to understand how the participants themselves conceptualised childhood and marriage.
During the period of the Inclusive Government civil society overlooked the opportunity to move away from their preoccupation with political transition to its more conventional role of reflecting citizen voice and pushing for reform31. Zimbabwe has been a very polarized country over the last decade and party politics governed supreme. This has been a weakness not only at the national level, but markedly in local government, and it has affected civil society as well. A culture of political intolerance and fear has reigned and this needs to change.
The collapse of the opposition and the disarray in ZANU PF allows civil society organisations to occupy space around new areas, and particularly issues around the failure of the state to deliver public goods and services. The new Constitution offers a potential area of engagement, informing and raising awareness to citizens about their rights; what they are and how to claim them is important in this new dispensation.
Civil society could also potentially play a stronger role in nurturing change agents in society and supporting active citizenship , if framed in a way that is not unduly confrontational or perceived by ZANU PF as part of a ‘regime change’ agenda.