MOVEMENT FOR DEMOCRATIC CHANGE
MDC Demands Government Action on Human Trafficking After Women Are Murdered in SA
Harare, 30 July 2015.
The Movement for Democratic Change has learnt with shock and horror about the fate of two Zimbabwean women who were brutally murdered by a human trafficking gang in South Africa recently.
We extend our heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims, one of whom has been identified as Olga Gwena while the other, suspected to be Esther Mwinde, is still to be officially accounted for. According to news reports, the women were abducted by the traffickers, who demanded ransom from their families but still went on to kill them after the money was paid.
As a party, the MDC is concerned about the Government’s failure or refusal to comply with the full provisions of the United Nations Trafficking in Persons Protocol of 2000. This has made the country a hotbed for human trafficking.
Although the Government announced the formation of an inter-ministerial anti-trafficking committee in January 2015 under the leadership of the Ministry of Home Affairs, this so-called committee has not been visible and has not reported any progress in efforts to combat human trafficking. We note with concern that the committee remained without a designated chair and has not met or reported regularly on the progress of its anti-trafficking activities. While the government established a position in the president’s office in 2014 to focus on trafficking issues, nothing has come out of this office to indicate progress in curbing or preventing human trafficking in the country.
The MDC notes that in June 2014, the Government passed the Trafficking in Persons Act. This law is defective and falls far short of meeting the standards set out in the 2000 UN TIP Protocol. Contrary to international law, which defines trafficking in persons as a crime of exploitation, the Zimbabwe TIP Act provides a very limited definition of this heinous crime. This loophole is being exploited by traffickers.
Human trafficking is a very serious problem for Zimbabweans. As in the case of the late Olga Gwena, an unknown number of Zimbabweans are being abducted for ransom by trafficking gangs when they travel outside the country, especially to South Africa. Others are promised lucrative jobs, only to end up as sex slaves and forced labourers.
The latest United States State Department report on trafficking in persons makes it clear that Zimbabwe is not fulfilling its international obligations in this regard . The crime is not limited to activities of traffickers outside the country but within our borders as well. Millions of Zimbabweans are trapped in conditions of forced prostitution and slave labour inside the country, especially on farms in mines and households.
As a social democratic party with the interests of the people at heart, the MDC calls for urgent action to free those who are trapped in this practice and to prevent others from becoming victims. We are aware that many of the people who end up being victims of human traffickers are only trying to survive. They are already victims of Zanu PF misrule and political repression at home. They are forced to undertake these hazardous journeys because of corruption-induced economic collapse in Zimbabwe.
We recommend the following:
Amendment of the Zimbabwe Trafficking in Persons Act to bring it in line with the 2000 UN Trafficking in Persons Protocol;
Increasing efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking offences, including those involving state and ruling party officials;
That Government makes greater efforts to convict and punish trafficking offenders;
Train police, diplomatic personnel and other relevant authorities on how to deal with human trafficking offences;
Escalate public awareness campaigns to prevent people falling victim to traffickers;
Provide support services to survivors and reassure those that are trapped in this practice that there is a way out for them.
Issued by Hon. Senator Lilian Timveos,
Secretary for Domestic Affairs, MDC.
Harvest House, Harare.
Mobile: 263 773 894 366
MOVEMENT FOR DEMOCRATIC CHANGE