HON. GONESE: Thank you Madam Speaker. Hon. Minister, we have seen an increase in the upsurge and an increase in the incidents of child marriages. My question is in view of the fact that we do not have a specific law in place as yet to criminalise and penalise the transgressors. Can the Hon. Minister enlighten us as to what policy measures and action plans the Government has put in place to arrest this trend? I think the Hon. Minister can inform the nation.
THE MINISTER OF MINES AND MINING DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHITANDO): Thank you very much Madam Speaker. With your permission, I would wish to request that my colleague Hon. Minister Nyoni gives an answer to that question.
THE MINISTER OF WOMEN’S AFFAIRS, COMMUNITY, SMALL AND MEDIUM ENTERPRISES DEVELOPMENT (HON. DR. S. NYONI): Thank you Madam Speaker. That is a very pertinent question and I would like to assure the Hon. Member that the nation and Government is concerned about child marriages. I am sure the Hon. Member is aware that there is a Bill that is coming – the Marriages Bill. That Bill is very strong also on protecting child marriages. Apart from that, our Constitution is very clear that children under the age of 18 years, it is illegal for them to get married.
My Ministry is going through all the Acts that have something to do with children and child abuse especially the girl child so that we make the public know which legislation they can use and which Act they can use in order to protect the girl child. Let me say that I am sure that the Hon. Member is bringing this up because of what happened in Marange. I am very happy to announce that the police have now arrested some of the culprits including the family that has already given another child for marriage. So, together with the Ministry and the Police, this scourge is being dealt with. I thank you Madam Speaker.
THE ACTING SPEAKER: We have also been joined by Hon. Dr. Garwe, the Minister of National Housing and Social Amenities. Thank you.
HON. GONESE: My supplementary question to the Hon. Minister is outside or apart from the legislative measures. What is Government doing to sensitise, conscientise societies about the evil nature of this particular scourge? I believe that it is critical to ensure that our communities are aware – our traditional leaders, church leaders and so on are sensitised? What is Government doing with regards to that because the law might be there but outside of the law, we then need that.
Secondly, in relation to the Bill, it has been stuck in the Senate. Can the Hon. Minister enlighten this House and nation at large as to what is the problem because the Government has been taking a lackadaisical attitude; they have been in a state of inertia. That Bill was passed by this National Assembly a long time ago but for some reason, it is in the Senate and it appears to be stuck there. If we can be advised and appraised of what is the problem? Thank you.
HON. DR. S. NYONI: Thank you Hon. Speaker. I am sure the Hon. Member will remember that we have put together the laws that affect the family, but apart from that, we have put a National Action Plan Against Child Marriage. That was launched in 2019 and that has been cascaded down to provinces, but I must admit that we have not done enough. Therefore, we are inviting this House that that plan is on and we will make it available to Members of Parliament so that we can help each other because this is a scourge, this is a national problem in which all of us must work together to protect our girl children.
On the last question, the leader of the House who is also the Minister of Legal and Parliamentary Affairs can answer to that one because he is responsible for seeing that the Bills are passed in this House and in Senate. I thank you.
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