By Daniel Chigundu
BUHERA SOUTH legislator Joseph Chinotimba has said it is ministers and not Members of Parliament who should shoulder the blame for delaying the alignment of marriage laws with the new Constitution.
Following the decision by the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) to outlaw marriages for people under the age of 18 years as is stipulated in the Constitution, various people took to social media to criticize MPs for sleeping on duty.
In an interview the Buhera South legislator said the criticism is neither here nor there and that those accusing MPs are not aware of the procedure of bringing laws to Parliament.
“The problem is that we have people who just talk but they are not aware of the Parliament procedures or how laws are brought to Parliament. The criticisms are not fair to MPs because it is the ministers who bring laws to Parliament and we as MPs we agree or disagree.
“So if there is anyone who is sleeping on duty it will have to be ministers and not MPs, there is no way in the world I can wake up as Joseph Chinotimba and decide to bring a laws in Parliament, it doesn’t work like that.
“Also it’s not the marriage laws alone that need realignment with the Constitution, we have close to 500 laws but you can’t push them at one goal and already there are laws that are being worked on and it takes time.
“People have to be patient with the process and not listen to people who lost elections and are trying to get back at us with these accusations. In fact there are better things to think of, things like the impending hunger.” he said.
Writing on her Facebook account, lawyer Petina Gappah said while the issue of child marriages was of great importance, other things appear to be priority for MPs.
“This should have been a priority for Parliament but regrettably, other things seem to matter more. As we cannot trust our lawgivers to do their jobs, unfortunately we have to look to private litigants to change the law incrementally.” she said.
Harare West legislator Jessie Majome concurred with Chinotimba adding that a lot of MPs have tried their best pushing the issue through and do not warrant the criticism they are getting.
“It’s not fair to blame MPs Petina when you know that our legislative procedure is led by the executive which brings Bills to us. I’m sure you are aware of the very limited scope for bringing private members’ Bills. Some of us are actually very busy on many fronts on this, speaking of myself I have a draft Bill I’m waiting to present to the Vice President aka the Minister of Justice after successfully lobbying him about it in 2014.”
“You may also have missed the heated debate of the Criminal Code Bill on this issue, as well as Hon Webster Maondera’s motion on ending child marriage, as well as Hon Innocent Gonese’s motion for the executive to expedite the ‘alignment’ process.” Majome said.