Zimbabwe’s parliament achieved a historic milestone by jointly proposing legislation aimed at ending capital punishment in the nation. This rare display of bipartisan collaboration witnessed lawmakers from both the ruling Zanu PF and the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change party rallying behind the call to abolish the death penalty.
Edwin Mushoriwa, representing Dzivarasekwa and a member of the Citizens Coalition for Change party, introduced the bill, arguing that capital punishment not only violates human dignity but is also irreversible in the event of a mistake. Mushoriwa emphasized the country’s historical reliance on a justice system rooted in restoration rather than revenge or retribution.
Echoing these sentiments, legislators like Allan Markham of Harare East emphasized that many nations have moved away from the death penalty in pursuit of human rights and justice, urging Zimbabwe to do the same. Surprisingly, even Pupurai Togarepi, the Zanu PF chief whip, endorsed the bill, denouncing the death penalty as a cruel and degrading form of punishment.
Presently, Zimbabwe has 62 individuals on death row, yet the nation has not executed anyone in over 17 years, effectively maintaining a moratorium. The proposed bill seeks to formally abolish capital punishment by amending existing laws, marking a positive shift for human rights advocates. Legal groups, including Veritas, are actively pushing for the overturning of death sentences and the enactment of abolition.
If this legislation is passed, it would signify a significant leap forward for Zimbabwe, reflecting a united front across party lines on a crucial human rights issue. Lawmakers, by advocating for the replacement of the death penalty with a system centered on restorative justice and rehabilitation, demonstrate moral leadership and a changing attitude within the country. This move holds the promise of closing a dark chapter in Zimbabwe’s history and affirming a commitment to valuing all human life.