Zanu PF Slave Masters Resist Efforts to End Human Trafficking in Zimbabwe

Senior officials in Zanu PF are resisting attempts by the government to bring the Anti Trafficking in Persons Bill to Parliament because the ensuing debate would expose their use of free and captive labour on farms they seized forcibly from mostly white commercial farmers, a Now Daily investigation has found.
This website found the use of slave labour to be widespread on the occupied farms throughout Zimbabwe. In many instances, the workers were told by Zanu PF officials that they would be evicted from the farms if they did not agree to work for nothing.
A lot of the trafficked people are placed in bondage as punishment for their previous employment under white farmers or their allegiance to opposition parties fighting Robert Mugabe’s misrule, especially the MDC.
Many others, especially women and children who are mostly victims of Zanu PF violence in the countryside, are trafficked to the cities to be used as domestic slaves or are forced to work in clubs as prostitutes, lap dancers and strippers, the investigation found. An unknown number of women are shipped under false promises of jobs to countries as far afield as Canada, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates and China, or to neighbouring South Africa, Mozambique, Botswana and Zambia where they are turned into prostitutes or forced into arranged marriages, according to the latest U.S. State Department report on human trafficking.
The United Nations and several Western governments raised concern about rampant human trafficking in the country after violent land seizures were launched by Zanu PF in 2000. The Mugabe government relented somewhat. The Attorney-General’s office drafted the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Bill based on the so-called Palermo Protocol.
But the law was never adopted. Instead, it was regional countries within the Southern African Development Community region which benefitted by adapting the Zimbabwe draft to their own situations, according to official sources. Many of the countries in SADC have since both ratified the Palermo Protocol and domesticated the UN-approved regulations while Zimbabwe’s Bill has not been brought to Parliament.
“The regional laws are based on the draft produced by the Zimbabwe Attorney-General’s Office years ago,” said former Home Affairs co-Minister Theresa Makone. “However, because the Zimbabwean leadership is itself heavily involved in the trafficking of women on their farms and elsewhere, they do not want this piece of legislation to be fine-combed by Parliament.”
President Robert Mugabe has only paid lip service to efforts aimed at ending trafficking. He promised Parliament in 2011 that the Bill would be tabled in the 2011-12 session, but that was not done. In July 2012, after heavy lobbying by Makone, Parliament adopted the Palermo Protocol. She promised to bring the Anti-Trafficking Bill to Parliament in the 2012-13 session but that did not happen.
“I fought very hard for this Bill to go through the last Parliament but I was resisted, especially by the Secretary for Home Affairs who did not want a woman and MDC Minister to get the credit. I suspect he wanted it to be diluted so that the Zanu PF chefs can continue with their use of free and captive labour on their farms,” Makone said.
She dismisses claims that the draft bill was defective.
“SADC ministries of justice by and large adopted wholesale our draft and put it through their parliaments where it sailed through,” Makone said.
At the beginning of January 2014, Mugabe passed a presidential proclamation imposing various regulations to do with trafficking. The move was sharply criticized by the MDC as blatant abuse of power by the president over a matter that was supposed to be dealt with by Parliament.
“There is absolutely no reason why the President needed to be involved in this process,” Makone said.
MDC said Mugabe’s involvement was blatant abuse of power over a matter that was best left to legislators. Commentators said the move was meant to give the impression to the United Nations Human Rights Commission that Zimbabwe was taking action against trafficking when it was not.
The United States has voiced concern about Zimbabwe’s growing role as a source and transit country for human trafficking, noting that it is also being used as a clearing house for people trafficked from Pakistan, Bangladesh and other countries trying to enter South Africa illegally. – Now Daily.

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