President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said corporal punishment must be allowed to instil discipline in children.
He said the younger generation was misbehaving hence the need to “slap” them to order. Speaking at the official opening of the national chiefs’ conference in Bulawayo, Mnangagwa said:
We’re here today we owe it to our forefathers who preserved our culture, our way of life that has allowed us to survive to date. So it is critically important for us the current leaders to carry ths philosophy and respect traditional knowledge, wisdom and culture to preserve our identity.
We’re fighting drug abuse because drug abuse by our young generation will destroy our culture and identity. Foreign countries will take advantage of us because we’ll have destroyed our identity. This phislosophy that children are not reprimanded in the home or cancelled at home does not work for us. Look at America, if a child is beaten, they go and report. Rovai mbama vati tasa (slap them/ discipline them till they are well mannered)
The president’s remarks come when the High Court ruled that corporal punishment is permissible if it can be proved that the intention was to discipline.
His latest remarks are a departure from his earlier stance. In 2015, Mnangagwa who was then the Vice President and Minister of Justice, championed the prohibition of corporal punishment saying it violated the Constitution which prohibited torture and other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment.
Corporal punishment has been illegal since 2017 when the High Court nullified article 60(2) (c) of the Educational Act.
Section 68A of the Constitution outlaws corporal punishment in schools, any physical or psychological torture, or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
The law specifically bars teachers from beating schoolchildren in whatever circumstances.
In April 2019, the Constitutional Court ruled that no male juvenile convicted of any offence could be sentenced to receive corporal punishment.