Death penalty: Yes or no?

The death penalty is set to spark constitutional changes following revelations by Zanu (PF) that the party was heavily divided over the issue during the constitution-making process.

The difference of opinion is likely to haunt the party following Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa’s recent statement that he would rather resign than sign execution certificates for the 89 people currently on death row, two of whom are women.

Mnangagwa, speaking during the recent commemoration of World Death Penalty Day in Harare, said his party would embrace and implement ‘whatever the people chose’, suggesting that the probability of a constitutional amendment on the death sentence was likely.

Party spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo told The Zimbabwean his party would consult other stakeholders such as civil society organisations and push for constitutional amendments.

“We have to collectively find ways of effecting the transition and we should be able to justify it. If they are willing to have it abolished, I am sure we will do what the people want,” he said. The party has more than the required two thirds’ majority to change the constitution.

Both MDC formations have distanced themselves from the death sentence clause in the new constitution, saying it was a product of Zanu (PF).

Paul Mangwana, said in as much as his party was divided over the death penalty and had to find a compromise, the Zanu (PF) Co-chair in the Constitution Select Committee, said the provisions relating to the death sentence were deliberately crafted so as to make them open to debate by future generations.

“If in the future, the people decide to abolish it, then it will be abolished because a constitution is not written on stone,” he said.

Douglas Mwonzora, a former Co-chairperson of Copac representing MDC-T said “If you look at that clause it allows for a law to be enacted to impose the death penalty but also allows a law to abolish execution. We hope Mnangagwa will soon bring to Parliament a Bill to abolish it.”

The constitution states that the penalty must not be imposed on a person “who was less than 21 years old when the offence was committed; or who is more than 70; the penalty must not be imposed or carried out on a woman; the law must permit the court discretion whether or not to impose the penalty”.

Political analyst and National Constitutional Assembly party spokesperson, Blessing Vava, accused politicians of tampering with the constitution and ignoring the people’s will.

“This constitution … has even brought confusion to the authors and that is regrettable. It is clear that even those who authored the document are not clear as to what they agreed,” said Vava.

Post published in: News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *