Zimbabwe abolishes death penalty nearly two decades after last execution

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Zimbabwe‘s cabinet has decided to eliminate the death penalty for murder offences, marking the end of a practice that had not been implemented for almost two decades.

  • Zimbabwe, which last executed a death penalty in 2005 and currently lacks a hangman, has taken steps to abolish capital punishment.
  • On Tuesday, the cabinet approved the Memorandum on the Private Member’s Death Penalty Abolition Bill.
  • In 2023, the death penalty was still enforced in 30 African nations. 16 of these states or territories had not executed anyone in the past decade.

On Tuesday, the cabinet approved the Memorandum on the Private Member’s Death Penalty Abolition Bill, which was introduced to parliament last year, thereby abolishing the death penalty introduced during the era of British colonial administration in the southern African nation, Bloomberg reported.

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“To retain the deterrent element in sentencing murderers, it is expected that the new law will impose lengthy sentences without violating the right to life. The existence of aggravating circumstances may attract life sentences,” Information Minister, Jenfan Muswere, told reporters in the capital, Harare during a post-Cabinet briefing.

Zimbabwe, which last executed a death penalty in 2005 and currently lacks a hangman, has taken steps to abolish capital punishment.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, a former anti-colonial activist who once faced death row, has been a staunch opponent of capital punishment. With this move, Zimbabwe joins the majority of the world’s nations that have either abolished or discontinued capital punishment in law or practice.

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Capital punishment in Africa

In the last four decades, significant progress against the death penalty has been recorded in Africa and it is only a matter of time for the continent to become fully abolitionist. Forty years ago, no country in Africa had abolished the death penalty for all crimes.

According to Statista, in 2023, the death penalty was still enforced in 30 African nations. 16 of these states or territories had not executed anyone in the past decade. But, the death penalty was regularly employed in 14 countries, including Nigeria, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Somalia, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Sudan, Egypt, and Libya.

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