Back to Index
watch - Bulletin 2
November 05, 2007
Women’s Affairs Oppah Muchinguri has appointed the following
eight-member Anti-Domestic Violence Council which will review cases
of domestic violence, disseminate information on domestic violence
and promote research and services delivery in domestic violence
Ministry Representatives: Mr Herbert Mandeya – Ministry
of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Ms Sibusisiwe Zembe
– Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare,
Mr Bigboy Sylvester Mashayamombe – Ministry of Education,
Sport and Culture
- Police Representative:
Ms Isabella Nyarai Sergio – ZRP
- NGO Representatives:
Ms Edna Bhala – Musasa Project, Ms Edna Masiyiwa –
Women’s Action Group, Mr Kelvin Hazangwi – Padare
- Church Representative:
Bishop Trevor Manhanga – Pentecostal Assemblies of Zimbabwe
The Act makes
provision for four more members – one each from the Ministry
of Women's Affairs and the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare;
a nominee of the Council of Chiefs; and one representing other interests.
of Zimbabwe and Discrimination against Women
There is still
discrimination against women in the Constitution. It was disappointing
that when Constitution
Amendment No. 18 was going through Parliament, women parliamentarians
did not raise this issue although women’s organisations have
been pressing for change for many years.
In the 1980
Constitution in section 23, discrimination was prohibited on the
grounds of race, tribe, place of origin, political opinions, colour
and creed. Only in 1996 in Constitution Amendment No. 14 was "gender"
added to the list. But, unfortunately subsection (3) paragraphs
(a) and (b) were left intact. These paragraphs significantly detract
from the rights of women by permitting discrimination in matters
of personal law and customary law.
In 2005, Constitution
Amendment No 17 added sex, marital status and physical disability
to the list of prohibited grounds for discrimination. It also added
new subsections requiring the implementation of land reform to be
on an equal basis between men and women and allowing affirmative
action programmes for previously disadvantaged groups (obviously
including women). But again, although Parliament was lobbied to
delete the offending paragraphs in section 23(3) detracting from
the rights of women, they were left unchanged.
The 2007 Constitution
Amendment No 18 Act which has recently come into force, did not
alter section 23(3). In its passage through Parliament input from
the women’s lobby was once again ignored.
continues to permit discrimination against women to a significant
extent. In brief, although section 23 prohibits discrimination on
the grounds of sex, gender or marital status in general terms, the
scope of the prohibition is substantially restricted by section
23(3), which permits discrimination against women in personal law
[e.g., adoption, marriage, divorce, burial, devolution of property
on death] and the application of customary law.
We urge all
women activists to read section 23 of the Constitution again and
resume their lobbying for changing this section.
of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Youth, Gender and Women’s
In its report
on The Status of Women and Law in Zimbabwe in relation to the Amended
Section 23 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe and Related International
Conventions presented to Parliament in June 2006. The Committee
recommended the further amendment of section 23.
the above Parliamentary Committee report [quoted verbatim]
Committee recognises that the constitution is the highest law of
the land and any law inconsistent with it is void. In view of the
above sentiments your Committee therefore recommends prioritizing
the inclusion of the following provisions in the Constitution during
the next Constitutional review:
23 (1)(b) should be amended so as to provide for non-discrimination
in the private sector in the same way it provided for non-discrimination
in the public sector.
23(2) should be amended so as to include age as a ground for non-discrimination.
4.1.3 The term
“Marital Status” should be clearly defined and specify
that it applies to all types of marriages to ensure that women in
all different marriages have equal status within marriage and before
is need to reconcile other laws, such as Marriage laws and Inheritance
laws, with the constitution so as to ensure security of women’s
laws should subordinate to the constitution. While the right to
practice and enjoy one’s culture is recognised, cultural practices,
which fall under customary law, and are in conflict with the principle
of equity and equality and that discriminate should be made unconstitutional.
This has been successfully done in Namibia, South Africa and Uganda
and Zimbabwe would also benefit from such an amendment to the constitution.”
despite the Committee’s recommendation that these changes
should be prioritized in the next constitutional review, when the
opportunity arose with Amendment 18, section 23 was not even debated.
We need a concerted campaign to get Parliament and our Minister
of Women’s Affairs to act on these recommendations.
Please credit www.kubatana.net if you make use of material from this website.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.