Abortion calls spark public debate Chief Mtshane Khumalo

Sikhumbuzo Moyo, [email protected]

CALLS by legislators for the abolition of the Termination of Pregnancy Act have sparked mixed feelings from traditional leaders, churches and women’s pressure groups in the country. The Act was signed into law in 1977 by the Rhodesian, and the then Government enacted it in January 1978.

Speaking in Parliament last week, chairperson of the health and childcare portfolio committee who is also Hwange Central Member of the Houses of Assembly, Mr Daniel Molokele, said the act violated the promotion of gender equality as enshrined in the constitution and placed women in dangerous situations.

The legislator argued there was significant empirical evidence demonstrating high prevalence of pregnancy termination, particularly among high school and university students. Reacting to the calls by Mr Molokele, Zimbabwe Council of Chiefs president, Senator Chief Mtshane Khumalo of Bubi District described legalising abortion as a foreign practice.

Ms Edinah Masiyiwa

“As traditional leaders, there is nowhere we can recommend abortion, it is something foreign to our values and knowing the present Parliament, I don’t see that motion getting any support at all, there is no way that we can support this,” said Chief Mtshane.The same sentiments were echoed by Chief Ngungumbane of Mberengwa District in Midlands province, likened abortion to murder of an innocent soul.

He said the calls for legalisation of abortion do not resonate with the country’s cultural norms and values, adding that in any event, Zimbabweans flatly rejected its legalisation during the 2013 constitutional review exercise.“That is taboo. It is just the same as murder of an innocent soul hence its rejection in 2013, the same way gay rights were rejected.

Chief Siabuwa

“These calls do not resonate well with our cultural norms and values, even the marriage fabric will be badly affected,” said Chief Ngungumbane.
He said there was a need for people to be wary of importing foreign cultures in the name of human rights.Chief Siabuwa of Binga said a child was a blessing from God and terminating pregnancy was going against the Almighty.

“Do you want to die yourself as an individual, no one wants to die. Are children not a blessing from God and we all know that they are? So, why are you denying them a right to life?” said Chief Siabuwa.Archbishop Alex Thomas of the Roman Catholic Church’s Archdiocese of Bulawayo, said out of principle, the church cannot approve of abortion more so as God creates every life and in His image.

“The Bible clearly states that thou shall not kill. Abortion must only be in exceptional cases as enshrined in the law otherwise making it open will only make things worse for our society,” he said.


Reverend Nhlanganiso Moyo of the Presbyterian Church said he has no issues with legalisation of abortion saying there is nowhere where the Bible talks about abortion.“It should be legalised but with clear text that only on strong reasons must a person abort, otherwise we may lose our moral values and social fibre,” he said.

Archbishop Alex Thomas

“We welcome the proposal to review the Termination of Pregnancy to expand the circumstances under which safe abortion is allowed.”
Womens’ Coalition of Zimbabwe health cluster lead executive director, Ms Edinah Masiyiwa, said her organisation was firmly behind calls to repeal the act.

“Women are dying from unsafe abortions, treating unsafe abortion is costly to the nation compared to offering women safe abortion services,” she     said.

Termination of Pregnancy Act only permits abortion in three specific scenarios, endangering the mother’s life, high risk of the foetus having a severe physical or mental defect and cases of rape or incest.

The debate surrounding the Termination of Pregnancy Act puts the spotlight on the ongoing struggle for women’s reproductive rights and bodily autonomy.

Statistics paint a grim picture of abortion in Zimbabwe. In 2021, Dr Ruth Labode, former chairperson of Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care, reported a rise in illegal abortions, with numbers jumping from 60 000 to 80 000 annually.

Backyard abortions by unregistered midwives or even de-registered or corrupt doctors become affected women’s only recourse. The situation worsens with street vendors peddling illegal abortion pills and herbs, preying on women’s vulnerability with false assurances of safety.

You Might Also Like