The government of Zimbabwe will soon consult the public on ways to proceed on the issue of the death sentence, says Vice-President Emerson Mnangagwa.

Zimbabwe's present Constitution only allows for men above the age of 18, who are convicted on aggravated murder charges, to be sentenced to death by hanging while exempting women and children below the age of majority.

Mnangagwa told the National Assembly during the question and answer session Wednesday that the government was formulating a paper to facilitate debate on the matter.

"We are in the process of making a paper for public debate on the issue," he said when asked about the position of the government on the death penalty.

The vice-president said at least 80 convicts are on death row.

While the Constitution has provisions allowing for the death penalty, Mnangagwa said the country had not carried out any execution in the past 12 years as it did not have a hangman.

The last hangman retired in 2005 after hanging two notorious armed criminals, Edgar Masendeke and Stephen Chidhumo, and since then, there has been a moratorium on executions as the country is still searching for a replacement," he added.

The government had been advertising the job since 2005 and not many people expressed an interest in applying. Like any other civil service job, the monthly salary is pegged at around 300 US dollars a month.

Mnangagwa said another predicament the government was facing was that a large majority of Zimbabweans had backed the death sentence during the Constitutional outreach programme, with only a minority having been against it.

At the same time, 89 member countries of the United Nations recently urged Zimbabwe to review its position on the death sentence and abolish it.