Death Penalty Targeting the Poor, Claims Mushoriwa

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Dzivarasekwa legislator Hon Edwin Mushoriwa has bemoaned the death penalty bias against the poor who cannot afford competent lawyers.

Further justifying the reason, he is advocating for the abolishment of the death penalty in Zimbabwe.

In November 2023, Mushoriwa sponsored a private member bill that seeks to abolish the death penalty from Zimbabwe’s statues. Although the law is currently being debated in parliament, there are 62 people currently on the death roll, yet the last execution was conducted in 2005.

According to section 48 of the constitution of Zimbabwe, the death penalty may be imposed only for murder committed in aggravating circumstances and only on men aged between 21 and 70 years – not on women.

Abolish Death Penalty

“Asked what inspired him to sponsor the Death Penalty Abolishment Bill, Mushoriwa said, ” The major reason that prompted me is that, if you do a profile of the people have been sentenced to death in Zimbabwe, the 62 inmates on the death roll at the moment you will then realize that all of them come from poor backgrounds.

“And as an MP from a poor community, I know that many of the people do not have the capacity to hire a competent lawyer to defend them.

” Then we need to understand that the judges and magistrates are human beings; they also make mistakes. You sentence someone to death, a person is hanged and once a person is hanged you cannot undo, if it is then proven that the person is innocent.

” Then lastly, we last hung a person in July 2005 and the people who have been on the death roll all this time, if you check on their mental status you will then realize that some of them actually have gone insane primarily because they don’t know when the hang man will come,” said Mushoriwa.

In support of abolishing the death penalty, cabinet early February 2024 approved principles of the bill. The Parliamentary Legal Committee (PLC) issued an adverse report on the bill or parts of the bill are inconsistent with the constitution.

However, Mushoriwa has since met with the PLC and is confident they will reverse the adverse report.

“We have had discussion with the PLC and looked at the text and the chairperson of the PLC will be withdrawing the adverse report to allow the bill to go through the processes,” said Mushoriwa.

Mushoriwa also insists that over and above the abolishment of the death penalty, there was a need to teach and re-emphasise the sanctity of life within the communities.