Community Development Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Politics

Monica Mutsvangwa comments on gazetted law to protect children and young persons

Senator Monica Mutsvangwa, Minister of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development

The enactment of this new law represents a critical tool in the ongoing battle against sexual violations of minors, child marriages, and gender-based violence

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Staff Writer

Spiked Online Media had a one-on-one interview with Hon Monica Mutsvangwa on the gazetting of the Criminal Laws (Protection of Children and Young Persons) SI 2 of 2024.

Below, we share excerpts from the interview:

  1. As the Hon Minister of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development, how welcome is this new law recently gazetted by His Excellency President Mnangagwa?

As the Honourable Minister of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development, I am pleased to announce the official incorporation of the Criminal Laws Protection of Children and Young Persons Regulations into Zimbabwean law on 12 January 2024. This legislative milestone underscores our unwavering dedication to safeguarding the rights and well-being of children and young persons in our society.

The alignment of this law with the provisions of section 81 of the Constitution signifies a pivotal shift in our legal framework. The pivotal Constitutional Court case of Dianna Eunice Kawenda v Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and Others (CCZ 11/21) (CCZ3/22), which challenged the constitutionality of certain provisions under Chapter V of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act, was ushered in a crucial re-evaluation of our legal obligations. The Court’s ruling, which declared specific sections of the Act unconstitutional, has set the stage for a more robust and protective legal environment for our children and young persons.

The significance of this development cannot be overstated. The Constitutional Court’s determination has led to the striking down of the definition of “young person” in the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act, as well as the declaration of several sections as unconstitutional. Furthermore, the Court ordered that the constitutional invalidity made of various sections of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act (sections 61, 70, 76, 83, and 86) were suspended for 12 months to enable the respondents to enact a law that protects all children from sexual exploitation. This gap in law has now been remedied by the Proclamation made by His Excellency Dr. E.D Mnangagwa through SI 2 of 2024, which is currently topical.

 

  1. How far will this new law go to eradicate or put an end to sexual violations of minors, child marriages as well as gender-based violence?

 

The enactment of this new law represents a critical tool in our ongoing battle against sexual violations of minors, child marriages, and gender-based violence. It serves as a resolute message that such abhorrent offences will not be tolerated, and those who perpetrate them will face the full wrath of the law. However, we recognize that the comprehensive eradication of these issues necessitates a multifaceted approach that addresses underlying factors such as poverty, lack of education, and harmful cultural practices. Therefore, using the whole government approach we are committed to implementing comprehensive education, awareness campaigns, and community empowerment programs to complement the legal framework.

 

  1. Are there any other interventions that need to be put in place to complement this law and ensure its full implementation by the Ministry?

In our pursuit of ensuring the effective implementation of this law, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development will continue to develop and implement supportive interventions. These include the establishment of One Stop Centers to enhance access to justice and the reinforcement of Safe Shelters to support survivors of abuse. Additionally, we will collaborate with other relevant Ministries and key stakeholders to strengthen child protection systems and encourage the reporting of such cases to the police for swift action against perpetrators.

 

  1. As the Minister, what’s your forecast for the year 2024 when it comes to the full development and emancipation of women and girls through your Ministry?

In anticipation of 2024, my Ministry is committed to leading comprehensive initiatives in partnership with key line Ministries such as Primary and Secondary Education, Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, and the Ministry of Public, Labour and Social Welfare. These initiatives aim to promote the holistic development and empowerment of women and girls. This involves advocating for gender equality, and women’s economic empowerment, and addressing harmful cultural and social norms that perpetuate gender-based discrimination.

The primary focus of my Ministry is to advance the empowerment of women to foster gender equality. Additionally, my Ministry will prioritize programs to prevent and respond to Gender Based Violence, with a focus on promoting the economic empowerment of women through skills training and financial inclusion using various financial models available through the Ministry, parastatals, and private financial institutions. Within the Ministry, the Women Development Fund and the Community Development Fund provide funding to grassroots women and communities, while the Zimbabwe Women’s Microfinance Bank and SMEDCO offer loans to women and Micro Small, and Medium Entrepreneurs nationwide.

Regarding social empowerment, my Ministry aims to implement the Women in Decision-Making Strategy, focusing on promoting the participation of women in decision-making in both the public and private sectors. Activities will include capacity strengthening of women leaders and creating platforms for the mentorship of young women leaders. The Ministry will also continue to support survivors at various Safe Shelter across the country and through the continued provision of Dignity kits containing basic hygiene and menstrual products.

Furthermore, my Ministry is planning a robust program for male engagement to cultivate male champions who will lead the campaign for gender equality and the eradication of Gender-Based Violence. These engagements will involve activities with traditional and religious leaders on issues of GBV and Harmful Practices. Our vision remains one of progress and sustained efforts to uplift and empower women and girls across Zimbabwe.

About the author

Byron Adonis Mutingwende