JUSTICE, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa wants the death penalty “totally” abolished.
A new constitution adopted in May last year outlawed the death penalty for women and men under the age of 18 years and those over 70.
But Cde Mnangagwa, who is also the Acting President, said he wants all men to be spared the gallows.
He made the remarks at a constitution advocacy meeting in Marondera yesterday where the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs was conscientising people about the new supreme law of the land.
“I’m happy that women were removed from the death penalty and I’m now fighting that you men may also not be hanged,” he said, drawing applause from the crowd.
“My colleagues may say whatever they say but for me, I think progress in society is to abolish the death penalty but still give heavy penalties or sentences to those who commit serious crimes like murder, robbery and so on.
“Let them get as many years as the courts may sentence them or even life imprisonment. I’m not against that, I support that. I’m only against the execution of a human being because I’ve experienced this, not personally, that I was hanged.”
Acting President Mnangagwa survived the gallows during white colonial rule in the 1960s on grounds that he was below 21 years.
He has claimed to being part of the ‘Crocodile Gang’ which carried out sabotage missions on Rhodesian infrastructure.
He drew laughter from the delegates when he said he would automatically survive execution again since he was now over 70 years of age.
Mnangagwa gave a gory picture of how inmates were executed during the colonial era at Harare Prison.
From the crowd, some queried why the constitution discriminated against men who were between the ages of 18 years and 70 years by retaining the death sentence on them, while women would not be hanged yet it claimed to promote equality.
“It doesn’t matter what you think, even if all of you say you want it, I don’t want. Despite the fact that the President appointed me Minister of Justice, I had told him that if he puts me there I will not sign hanging of people,” the VP replied.
“So to me its progress that women aren’t hanged. And I think also its progress that men who are below 18 (years of age) can’t be hanged and I think it’s much even bigger progress that men who are over 70 years can’t be hanged.
“The struggle we’re dealing with now is that of those in between. So this discrimination which is there, I think we shouldn’t resolve the discrimination by bringing the women into the category to hang them. I think we should remove the discrimination by removing men from the category of hanging to not being hanged but be punished,” said Mnangagwa.