Lloyd Gumbo Senior Reporter
Acting President and Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, wants the death penalty “totally” abolished by the Constitution. The new Constitution outlawed death penalty on women and men who are under the age of 18 years and those over 70. But Cde Mnangagwa who has been on record castigating the death penalty, said now he wanted men who were in the category of hanging, to also survive the gallows.
He made the remarks at a Constitution advocacy meeting in Marondera yesterday where the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs was conscientising people about the new supreme law of the land.
“I am happy that women were removed from the death penalty and I am now fighting that you men may also not be hanged,” he said drawing applause from the crowd.
“My colleagues may say whatever they say, but for me, I think progress in society is to abolish the death penalty, but still give heavy penalties or sentences to those who commit serious crimes like murder, robbery and so on.
“Let them get as many years as the courts may sentence them or even life imprisonment. I am not against that, I support that. I am only against the execution of a human being because I have experienced this, not personally, that I was hanged.”
Acting President Mnangagwa survived the gallows during the colonial rule in the 1960s for sabotage on grounds that he was below 21 years.
He drew laughter from the delegates when he said he would automatically survive execution again since he was now over 70 years of age.
Cde Mnangagwa gave a gory picture of how inmates were executed during the colonial rule at the Harare Prison.
Some people queried why the Constitution discriminated against men who were between the ages of 18 years and 70 years by retaining the death sentence on them, while women would not be hanged yet it claimed to promote equality.
“It doesn’t matter what you think, even if all of you say you want it, I don’t want. Despite the fact that the President appointed me Minister of Justice, I had told him that if he puts me there I will not sign hanging of people.
“So to me its progress that women are not hanged. And I think also its progress that men who are below 18 (years of age) cannot be hanged and I think it’s much even bigger progress that men who are over 70 years cannot be hanged.
“The struggle we are dealing with now is that of those in between. So this discrimination which is there, I think we should not resolve the discrimination by bringing the women into the category to hang them. I think we should remove the discrimination by removing men from the category of hanging to not being hanged but be punished,” said Cde Mnangagwa.
Turning to land redistribution in the province, Acting President Mnangagwa said when the fast track land reform programme was introduced, it was agreed that the provincial lands committee would play a leading role in identifying land and recommending, which ones were to be repossessed.
He said this was after Cde Nicholas Kazviyo, alleged that there were several white farmers in the province calling for their dismissal from the farms.
But acting President Mnangagwa said farm allocation was the sole responsibility of the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement through the national land committee, adding that people were allowed to use proper channels in reporting cases where the district land committee was not transparent.
“When we are now distributing this land there is no law that forbids us to grant pieces of land in the same manner we do to the blacks we can do to the whites. To do that we asked each provincial land committee to provide to the national land committee those you as a province have agreed that you would retain them, but yours is just a recommendation then as the leadership at national level we would then sit down and give our views about your recommendations,” he said.