Lt. Col. Joseph Mutungwazi urges Zimbabwean Parliament to pass toxic weapons law

Lt. Col. Joseph Mutungwazi of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) pleaded with Zimbabwe's Parliament on Monday to pass the Biological Weapons and Toxins Bill.

Mutungwazi, who made the call while giving oral evidence before the Portfolio Committee on Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services, said the bill would improve Zimbabwe's poor international image, Newsday reports.

"Undue delays will place us on a precarious position," Mutungwazi said, according to Newsday. "Our position in the international community is not very good, we need to cleanse it."

The legislation would prohibit the development, production and stockpiling of toxic weapons and act as the culmination of the Biological Weapons Convention of 1975 and the Geneva Protocol of 1925.

"The bill is part of the international humanitarian law which seeks to alleviate suffering by protecting those not participating in armed conflicts," Mutungwazi said, Newsday reports.

Committee Member Paul Madzore requested during the hearing that the ZDF organize a workshop to guide the committee through the issues relating to toxic weapons.

Martin Rushwaya, the permanent secretary of the Defence Ministry, pledged to facilitate the workshop.

"We have a cooperating partner who is ready and willing to fund such a workshop and we will liaise with Parliament on the date and logistics," Rushwaya said, according to Newsday.