HARARE - Prosecutor General Johannes Tomana’s comments recently that 12-year-old girls could engage in consensual sex must have come as good news for sex predators and lustful paedophiles.
However, the careless comments must have ruffled a lot of right-minded Zimbabweans. And to imagine the PG’s comments came barely a week after Zimbabwe joined the rest of the continent in commemorating the Day of the African Child on June 16, makes the comments even more startling.
The theme for the year’s commemorations rightly made reference to child marriages — “25 Years after the Adoption of the African Children’s Charter: Accelerating our Collective Efforts to End Child Marriage in Africa”.
At a time when the continent has decided to put its efforts towards this societal ill, one of our own who superintends over prosecutions in the country is seen virtually drawing Zimbabwe back into accepting such a Stone Age practice as something positive. His argument is that the girls should be allowed to marry because they do not have an “alternative”.
What “alternative” is the PG talking about? Taking advantage of their social standing must never be an option.
Honestly, Tomana cannot be left unchallenged while he defends sexual offenders simply because they would have been able to prove that they had consensual sex with the minors. The Constitution is very clear that the age of consent is 16.
As a high-ranking government official, Tomana should instead exert his energies towards influencing policy makers to ensure all girls have access to opportunities that will not render them vulnerable.
Tomana’s stance and comments smack of a hidden self-centredness and patriarchal tendency which must be condemned in the strongest terms possible.
As a person who occupies such a high position in the justice system, we are surprised that he is the one who goes all-out to defend sex predators. Even his boss, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is also the Justice minister, has clearly stated that young girls must go to school instead.
“The business of children is in school not in marriage. Girls should not rush into marriage,” he said while speaking in Gweru on Friday, adding that government treats such practices with disdain.
For someone who goes to Grade One at seven years of age, it means they will only be in Grade Six by the time they turn twelve. These are mere children and we should help them realise their goals and aspirations.
Zimbabwe cannot be seen to be accepting this kind of madness.
We therefore find calls by children’s rights and women’s organisations for the immediate firing or resignation of Tomana to be quite in order.
We are also tempted to think that the most honourable thing that Tomana should do is to resign. We do not think what he is currently doing is what President Robert Mugabe employed him for.