Lloyd Gumbo Senior Reporter
Senators have gone a notch higher in their quest to end child marriages by demanding that Government enacts laws that approve castration as punishment for anyone who sleeps with a child below the age of 18 years.
They also insisted that parents or guardians who accept lobola from men who marry under-age children should face prosecution together with the culprits.
Legislators were debating a motion by MDC-T senator for Midlands Mrs Lilian Timveous, calling for the enactment and enforcement of laws raising the age of marriage from 16 to 18 years for both boys and girls.
MDC-T senator for Matabeleland North, Ms Rosemary Nyathi said castration was the only deterrent measure against paedophiles.
“When goats are a problem, they are castrated. So all those men who target children should also be castrated because they are rapists,” she said.
“Those who say 12-year-olds are wives are rapists who must be castrated. One cannot die from castration so they should live to regret their actions.
“Traditional leaders must ensure that parents who allow children who are under 18 years old to be married must be arrested together with those men.”
Zanu-PF senator for Matabeleland South, Cde Alma Mkhwebu supported the call for raising marriage age to 18 years.
“It should be made mandatory for both boys and girls that they should marry when they have reached at least 18 years.
“The debate has concentrated on girls only but boys also need to be protected because there are some who are marrying older women who are good enough to be their mothers or grandmothers because they are wealthy.
“We don’t want those boys to be abused, so they should also be protected,” said Cde Mkhwebu.
Senate President Edna Madzongwe hailed Cde Mkhwebu for bringing a new dimension to the debate by also talking about the need to protect boys who are under 18 years old.
Meanwhile, Senators urged Government to introduce policies that protect businesses and individuals who borrow from banks but struggle to pay back due to the economic challenges facing the country.
They were debating a motion by MDC-T senator for Bulawayo, Ms Dorothy Khumalo, who called on Government to come up with policies that protect businesses and individuals whose properties faced auctioning for defaulting on repayments
Senator Nyamayabo Mashavakure, who represents the disabled, said interest rates were too high resulting in debtors failing to repay loans.
He said banks unjustifiably raised interest rates using the supply and demand principle knowing that the majority of people needed money that was in short supply.
“Banks are bemoaning liquidity challenges they face because they have failed to attract depositors due to high service charges. As a result the majority of people are not banked because they are afraid that they will lose their money to charges.
“The other reason people are not banked is because of the stringent conditions for one to open an account,” he said.
Zanu-PF senator for Manicaland, Cde Shadreck Chipanga said there was need for financial institutions to agree on payment terms with their debtors.
MDC-T representative for Harare, Mr James Makore said it was important for people who borrow to pay back instead of depending on Government to intervene on a contract between two parties.