26 June 2018 :
According to a survey conducted by international criminologist, Dr Mai Sato, in collaboration with the Mass Public Opinion Institute, most Zimbabweans would be happy to see the abolition of capital punishment.
“There appeared to be broad political agreement that abolition was desirable and achievable in the short term,” the researchers pointed in a summary of the survey whose results were published at the end of May.
The survey was commissioned by Veritas, a local legal and legislative watchdog that, for many years, has been campaigning for abolition of capital punishment in Zimbabwe.
The survey results showed that most Zimbabweans would want the country to do away with capital punishment, which former President Robert Mugabe favoured. His detractors accused Mugabe of using capital punishment as a handy weapon to cow political opponents.
Mugabe and his supporters opposed previous efforts to completely abolish capital punishment resulting in the country’s 2013 constitution that only exempts women and males below 18 and over 70 years old from being sent to the gallows.
According to the research findings, while on the surface a majority of Zimbabweans support the death penalty, this support is not particularly strong, and where it exists, it is qualified. Only 41% thought that Zimbabwe should “definitely” keep the death penalty.
“Most Zimbabweans accepted that there should be strict limits on capital punishment and were reluctant to impose the death penalty when presented with different case scenarios. Ultimately, 83% of those in favour of the death penalty would be willing to accept abolition if it become government policy,” the researchers pointed out.
“When exploring the reasons behind the support for the death penalty, it was striking that the “eye for an eye” argument did not hold much traction with the Zimbabwean public. Only 14% of retentionists supported the death penalty for retributive reasons. Nor did the public think that the death penalty was an effective criminal justice policy, with 92% of the Zimbabweans favouring policies other than “more executions” for reducing violent crime rates.