By Martin Muleya
Mutasa- Manicaland province has recorded the fifth number of child marriages in the country, with Mashonaland Central leading the pack with 49.5 percent of girls and 6.7 percent boys getting married.
According to the 2021 National Gender Forum prepared by the Zimbabwe Gender Commission (ZGC), it indicated that the prevalence of child marriages in Zimbabwe was unacceptably high with 1 in 3 (32.6%) girls and 4 percent boys being married before the age of 18years.
Thus the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs has embarked on Constitutional awareness in various districts of the country. This deliberate exercise to inculcate a culture of constitutionalism among the young generation helps the public to ask pertinent questions in as far as justice delivery system is concerned in the country.
The Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs in terms of the Constitution is obliged to conscientious the public on matters of the Constitution.
Speaking during the two day advocacy meeting held at Mutasa DC, the Permanent Secretary in the Justice Ministry Virginia Mabhiza underscored that Constitutionalism was important as it gives direction of how a nation ought to be governed.
She bemoaned the ever increasing cases of child marriages.
“Constitutionalism is important as it gives us direction of how we should be governed. We have translated the Constitution into 15 official languages and we have braille for the visually impaired as well as a translation of sign language.
“Our Constitution dedicated Section 81 for the purposes of protecting the rights of children. The issue of children who are getting married at an early age is worrisome. Under our country’s laws it is illegal to marry a child who is under 18years of age.
“In this Constitution we are still in dialogue with traditional chiefs so that our laws will involve lobola on customary marriages we conduct at our households.
“We have heard rising concerns of religious and cultural practices that fuel marriage, sexual exploitation and abuse of young girls” said Perm Sec Mabhiza.
Chief Director in the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs highlighted that his office capitalizes on already existing exhibitions such as radio programmes so as to reach out to all Zimbabweans so as to teach them about Constitutionalism.
“As a ministry we have a mandate to translate the Constitution into all the 15 officially recognized languages in the country. We have already done that and now we are left with bulk printing so that every individual can have a copy of the Constitution in his or her own language he understands. The Ministry has aired on several radio programs on the Constitution and it’s implication reaching over a million people in the country.
“Our mandate as a Ministry is not limited to raising awareness of the Constitution but the provisions of the Constitution and essential laws may not be helpful to our people if we do not enforce them. Therefore apart from the substantive content aspect of the Constitution, government also put in place constitutional enablers to guarantee access to justice,” said Godzi.