Zvamaida Murwira, Harare Bureau
The Marriages Amendment Bill which will repeal a legal provision that criminalises “wilful” transmission of HIV to a partner has been approved by Cabinet.
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said a Clause in the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act that criminalises transmission of HIV by one partner to another would be repealed.
Minister Ziyambi said this yesterday in Harare while responding to questions from journalists during a post Cabinet briefing which was chaired by Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister, Prisca Mupfumira.
He said the Marriages Amendment Bill which was approved by Cabinet would also repeal that Clause of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.
“Yes, indeed Cabinet approved that we repeal the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act where it speaks about these criminalisation so we will repeal the Criminal Code in this regard,” said Minister Ziyambi.
The Marriages Amendment Bill will soon be gazetted before it is tabled before Parliament for debate.
The decision to decriminalise transmission of HIV dovetails with what Minister Ziyambi told Parliament earlier this year.
In March, Minister Ziyambi made an assurance to repeal the Clause during a question and answer session after Zengeza West legislator Mr Job Sikhala (MDC-Alliance) had asked if Government was considering amending the law which criminalise transmission of HIV.
“When this legislation came into effect, the thinking then was that we need to control the spread of HIV by criminalising those who transmit it to partners knowingly. But the global thinking now is that that law stigmatises people living with HIV and studies have shown that it does not produce the results that were intended. What the Ministry is going to do is to repeal that section of the law and ensure that we keep up with modern trends in the world,” said Minister Ziyambi in the National Assembly.
He said the fastest way of doing it was to incorporate the provision in the Marriages Amendment Bill.
Earlier on Minister Mupfumira said Cabinet approved the Coroner’s Office Bill.
She said the Bill sought to help safeguard human lives through facilitating specialising investigation of preventable deaths and identification of deceased persons.
“The country has previously relied on expatriates for the specialised investigations required to conclude such cases, which arrangement has now become unsustainable. In more precise terms, the Bill will establish an efficient coroner system to look into the cause of death in the following circumstances among deaths that occur without a medical doctor’s attention, surgical operation table deaths and deaths while in jail, police custody or other central authority control,” said Minister Mupfumira.