ZIMBABWE – Top Harare lawyer Tendai Biti says the Constitutional Court should brace for volumes of human rights lawsuits which I will be filing because praise-singer parliamentarians have failed to push government to realign laws with the new constitution.
In an interview with NewZimbabwe.com in Harare Thursday, Biti, also an opposition politician, said he has lined up series of cases to be brought the highest court in the land.
He was speaking on the side-lines of a press briefing organised by Veritas, a civil society organisation which lobbies for social and political justice rights information, where they were celebrating the early marriages constitutional case victory.
Politicians and the praise singing parliamentarians are reluctant to give life to the brilliant and progressive Constitution which we adopted more than two years ago and it is important for us to fight this war in this court and I personally will be bringing more human rights, community based and related cases in the near future, said Biti.
Parliament should have done this many years ago; they had over 36 years to do it but they did not do it.
On Wednesday, Biti successfully challenged the constitutionality of early marriages after taking to the Constitutional Court a case of two women, Loveness Mudzuru and Ruvimbo Tsopodzwa, who were married before the age of 18.
The top court struck off Section 22(1) of the Marriage Act, which allowed marriage of children below the age of 18, ruling that the provision was inconsistent with section 78(1) of the country’s Constitution which sets 18 years as the minimum age of marriage in Zimbabwe.
The ruling was welcomed by human rights organisations in and out of Zimbabwe who said it was a step towards liberating the girl child.
One of such organizations was Panos Institute of Southern Africa which however said for the ruling to be an effective springboard towards ending gender-based violence, government should monitor that everyone observes it.
We are pleased that this ruling provides a basis for the protection of children from early marriage and its associated vices and we are now calling on the authorities to ensure that this ruling is observed by all stakeholders, including religious and customary leaders, Panos Executive DirectorLilian Kiefer said.
Zimbabwe is one of the Southern African countries with the highest statistics of child marriages.
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the State of the World’s Children’s Report (2015), the prevalence of child marriage by provinces indicates that Mashonaland Central leads with 50%.
In second place are Mashonaland West 42%, Masvingo 39%, Mashonaland East 36%, Midlands 31%, Manicaland 30%, Matabeleland North 27%, Harare 19%, and Matabeleland South 18% while Bulawayo has the least prevalence with about 10%.