Chikwinya calls for a Bill to actualize age of consent to sex
By Gracious Nyathi
Mbizo legislator Settlement Chikwinya has called on the Minister of Justice Ziyambi Ziyambi to bring a bill to Parliament that will actualize the Constitutional Court judgement on the age of consent to sex.
A few weeks ago, the Constitutional Court set 18 years as the age of consent to sexual activities, a departure from 16 years which was there.
The move is meant to align the age of sexual consent with the legal age of majority which is set at 18 years in the new constitution.
Celebrating the progressive judgement, on the Day of the African Child, Honourable Chikwinya said the minister of justice must make the judgement a reality.
‘’Thank you, Mr. Speaker Sir. Today is 16th June and it is a day recognised as the Day of the African Child. I join the nation and fellow citizens of Zimbabwe in celebrating this day. As I do so, I take cognisance of the fact that the Constitutional Court recently passed a landmark judgement in which it moves the age of sexual consent from 16 to 18 years.
‘’I therefore call upon the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to come to Parliament with a bill that actualises the provisions but criminalise the involvement of sexual activities for children under the age of 18 years so that at least we make it a reality for us to protect these children who are below the age of 18,’’ he said.
Chikwinya’s call comes at a time when the same Constitutional Court in 2017 banned child marriages in the case of Mudzuru, Tsopodzi and others versus the state, but it took more than 4 years for the government to enact laws that back the judgment.
Some of the laws meant to offer more protection to children are still in the formative stages and will likely be delayed such things as budget consultations and 2023 election preparations, among other things.
Speaking on the same matter, Harare East legislator Tendai Biti concurred with Honourable Chikwinya adding that the minister must come up with a comprehensive bill for protecting children, and giving life to the children’s rights set out in Section 81 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
‘’The implicit ruling by the Constitutional Court is that the Child Protection Adoption Act must also be revisited. It still sets the age of a child at 16 and does not offer sufficient protection, particularly for those children between 16 and 18.
‘’Also, children still face discrimination from the inheritance point of view. So, I have a daughter called Zoey, she cannot inherit from my own estate, which is why the Constitutional Court says the government must come up with a comprehensive bill protecting children in their entirety, including child labour.
‘’Children are working in farms, tobacco, cotton in Gokwe and so forth. This bill must protect children,’’ he said.