THE United Nations International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) has released a damning human rights report on Zimbabwe and recommended drastic reforms to be urgently implemented by the Harare regime.
The development follows the just-ended three-week-long 107th Session of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) held in Geneva, Switzerland, where the human rights situation in Zimbabwe and other nations was reviewed.
The meeting began on 8 August and ended on Tuesday this week. The Harare delegation, led by Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi, was given a platform on 18 August to present the human rights situation in the country since 1998 when it last gave such a brief at the UN special summit.
In his report, Ziyambi painted a rosy picture on how the government had upheld human rights and instituted measures to protect all citizens from all forms of inhumane treatment. However, the UN’s ICERD committee, after also taking into account a report submitted by seven civil society organisations from Zimbabwe, red flagged the Zimbabwean government, mainly over its inaction to rein in Chinese employers accused of racism.
Part of the UN’s special committee report released on 30 August and obtained by The NewsHawks reads: “The committee is concerned about reports that Zimbabwean workers employed in foreign companies operating in the state party, in particular some Chinese companies, experience a range of violations that manifest racially discriminatory attitudes, including physical abuse and being provided sub-standard and inferior housing and meals as compared with foreign co-workers.”
“The committee is also concerned by reports of lack of effective steps taken by the state party to investigate all such allegations (article five).”
The UN committee further urged Zimbabwe to undertake a raft of measures to protect citizens from rampant abuse by the Chinese.
“The committee recommends that the state party ensure that all its labour laws and laws that prohibit discrimination are fully applied to all foreign companies operating in its territory, including those of Chinese origin, and that it promptly and effectively investigates any allegations of racial discrimination or other violations based on racially discriminatory attitudes in relation to foreign companies and, where applicable, punish them as provided by law.”
“The committee also recommends that the state party effectively implement the provisions of the International Labour Organisation Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention, 1958 (No. 111)” reads another section of the UN’s committee report.
Checks by The NewsHawks revealed that article two of the 1958 statute ratified by the Zimbabwean government which was cited by the UN’s special committee reads: “Each Member for which this Convention is in force undertakes to declare and pursue a national policy designed to promote, by methods appropriate to national conditions and practice, equality of opportunity and treatment in respect of employment and occupation, with a view to eliminating any discrimination in respect thereof.”
The UN’s ICERD committee also tore into the Harare regime for its failure to protect the welfare of informal sector workers and recommended legislative reforms to resolve the matter.
“The committee recommends that the state party: (a) Amend its legislation prohibiting discrimination and its labour laws to explicitly cover the informal sector and domestic work;”
“(b) Take measures to address discrimination on the intersecting grounds of race, class and gender in all areas of employment, including by raising awareness among domestic workers of their labour rights and by providing them with mechanisms to claim these rights through collective organising; (c) Explicitly include domestic workers in its minimum wage regulations at a level that guarantees a liveable wage equal to other workers; (d) Ratify the International Labour Organisation Do mestic Workers Convention, 2011 (No. 189),” reads the UN committee’s report.
On the plight of domestic workers presented by the seven civil society organisations, the UN said Zimbabwe must: “Explicitly include domestic workers in its minimum wage regulations at a level that guarantees a liveable wage equal to other workers . . . Ratify the International Labour Organisation Domestic Workers Convention, 2011 (No. 189).”