Nothing Can Stop Death Penalty Abolition Bill - Ziyambi

3 months agoMon, 19 Feb 2024 09:45:03 GMT
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Nothing Can Stop Death Penalty Abolition Bill - Ziyambi

Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi has said the adverse report on the Death Penalty Abolition Bill by Parliament’s Legal Committee (PLC) will not stop the Bill from sailing through both Houses of Parliament.

On one hand, the PLC argued that the Constitution allows the death penalty for aggravated murder by an adult and so abolishing the death penalty requires a constitutional amendment.

On the other hand, supporters of the Bill argue that the Constitution simply allows Parliament to pass a law allowing the death penalty but does not require Parliament to do so.

In an interview with The Herald on Sunday, Ziyambi said the Cabinet had already adopted a decision to support the Bill, therefore, he did not expect the PLC’s adverse report on the Bill to affect it. Said Ziyambi:

We have noted the adverse report from the PLC in its exercise of its mandate to scrutinise all Bills and Statutory Instruments coming before Parliament.

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There will be an engagement of all stakeholders so that nothing will stall its passage. There are a number of ways to deal with it; one of which includes to have the PLC to withdraw its adverse report.

But the bottom line is the Bill is on course to sail through Parliament. Remember, Cabinet has given its nod to have the Bill sail through Parliament.

The proposed law was brought to Parliament through a Private Members Bill by Dzivarasekwa legislator Edwin Mushoriwa (CCC).

In presenting the adverse report, PLC chairperson Itayi Ndudzo (ZANU PF), who is the Hwedza South MP, said they felt that its enactment contravened Section (2) and Section 48 (2) of the Constitution in that it sought to abolish what has been permitted by the Constitution. Ndudzo said:

It is inconsistent with the spirit and purpose of Section 48 (2) which is permissive to a death penalty law being enacted. Section 328 (1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe defines a Constitutional Bill as a Bill that seeks to amend the Constitution.

Subsection (2) further states that an Act of Parliament that amends the Constitution must do so in express terms. The import of the Death Penalty Abolition Bill in fact, seeks to amend the provisions of the Constitution, in particular Section 48 (2) of the Constitution. The Bill is not a Constitutional Bill as it does not expressly state that it seeks to amend the Constitution.

Therefore, the proposed Bill takes away the permissive intention of the Constitution to have a death penalty and in any case, if any amendment is to be proposed on the death penalty, it is our considered opinion that it has to be introduced as a Constitutional Amendment Bill.

However, commenting on the PLC report in the National Assembly last week, Mushoriwa said he did not agree with their observations.

Mushoriwa said Section 48 of the Constitution seeks to protect the right to life which is what his Bill seeks to achieve. He added:

The second issue is that if you read Section 48 (2), it says a law may permit the death penalty to be imposed only on a person convicted of murder committed in aggravating circumstances.

“The key word there is ‘may’. It is not saying a law must. What has happened, Honourable Chair, is that the death penalty is not a creation of the Constitution, but what has happened is that the framers of the 2013 Constitution gave that power to the people of Zimbabwe and to their Parliament to either make a law or not to make a law that introduces a death penalty.

This is the reason, I believe that the point of departure which I believe the Committee erred is not to remove or to temper with the provision.

The power of the Constitution is not being taken away. In fact, what this means is that this Parliament should pass this Bill and I am glad that two days ago, the Cabinet of Zimbabwe led by President Emmerson Mnangagwa approved the principles of this Bill having gone through the various technical support in the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and the other arms of Government.

Amnesty International recently commended the move by Zimbabwe’s cabinet to back abolition of the death penalty saying capital punishment “has no place in our world.”

At independence in 1980, there were nine crimes punishable by death under Zimbabwean law. Currently, offenders cab be sentenced to death for three offences, namely treason; where the act of insurgency, banditry, sabotage or terrorism results in the death of a person; for murder and for attempted murder or incitement or conspiracy to commit murder.

More: Pindula News



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