Takunda Maodza in ROME, Italy
VICE President Emmerson Mnangagwa arrived here yesterday to attend the 9th International Meeting of Justice Ministers on the abolition of the death penalty. VP Mnangagwa oversees the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and was invited for the conference because of his strong stance against the death penalty having been spared the noose for his revolutionary activities by the Smith regime on account of his young age.
On arrival VP Mnangagwa, who is accompanied by senior officials from the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, was hosted by the Community of Saint Edigio just outside the Vatican City.
Representing the Community of Edigio in the meeting was its director for international relations Dr Mauro Garofalo. Zimbabwe ambassador to Italy Mr Godfrey Magwenzi also attended the meeting. The Community of Saint Edigio is known for resolving conflicts within Africa and abroad.
Closer home, it brokered a peace deal between the Government of Mozambique and Renamo in 1992, ending a bloody civil war. Zimbabwe was actively involved in the negotiations that were held at Saint Edigio.
In an interview with The Herald after meeting the Community of Saint Edigio, VP Mnangagwa said : “I am happy to be here. We were here during mediation between the Government of Mozambique and Renamo in 1992.
“We have been working together with the Community of Saint Edigio for years. There is a long-standing relationship between the community and Zimbabwe.” He said it was President Mugabe who dispatched him to Rome for the meeting. The meeting was held within the context of Justice Ministers Conference getting underway today in Rome.
VP Mnangagwa said he will forever advocate for the abolition of the death penalty. “I share the view that we should abolish the death penalty as a policy. I might be the lonely voice but I will continue to say so,” he said.
Dr Garofalo said his meeting with VP Mnangagwa was friendly and frank. VP Mnangagwa is expected to address the conference to be attended by a number of dignitaries including Italian legislators today.
The VP is expected to deliver an address on Zimbabwe’s position on the death penalty, homing in on the national legal system. Zimbabwe is among countries that still have the death penalty in its statutes. Significant progress has been made to limit the number of offences that attract the penalty, while women, those above the age of 70 and those below 21-years-old cannot be sentenced to capital punishment.
Saint Egidio is a lay organisation of Catholics founded in 1968 by Andrea Riccardi to promote global evangelisation and charity.