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Zimbabwe clamps down on illegal recruitment

by Staff reporter
01 Dec 2022 at 04:54hrs | Views
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa has said the Government is strengthening inter-agency cooperation to deal with unscrupulous recruitment agencies using unethical means to recruit desperate job seekers and ultimately subjecting them to human trafficking and exploitation.

He said regional mechanisms to deal with issues of unfair and unethical recruitment in the Sadc region, particularly personnel from the health sector and other specialist areas targeted in the post-Covid-19 pandemic era must be developed.

Zimbabwe has experienced cases of human trafficking of its nationals with trafficking in persons, particularly women and children becoming a global problem.

More than 200 Zimbabwean women were victims of human trafficking in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and other Middle East countries over the past few years. The women were trafficked after falling prey to human trafficking scams.

Efforts were made by the Government to assist the victims, but only 128 women were rescued and repatriated.

A majority of women are lured by promises of attractive, well-paying jobs offered by agents of criminal networks without realising the full nature of their future employment or the working conditions.

Officially opening the High-Level Tripartite Dialogue on Labour Migration Governance in the Sadc region in Victoria Falls yesterday, President Mnangagwa, who was represented by his deputy, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, said his administration was also in the process of finalising standard operating procedures to guide the recruitment of personnel from Zimbabwe.

"In the case of Zimbabwe, we have strengthened inter-agency cooperation to deal with unscrupulous recruitment agencies who seek to recruit our human capital through unethical means, which eventually subject labour migrants to human trafficking and exploitation," he said.

"My government is also in the process of finalising standard operating procedures to guide the recruitment of personnel from Zimbabwe. This approach enables us to ensure coherence among state and non-state actors involved in the recruitment of our citizens on both the regional and international labour markets."

President Mnangagwa commended countries in the Sadc region for prioritising the issue of developing strategies on how to protect migrant workers and job seekers from the unscrupulous activities of recruiters, which have led to increased rates of labour  exploitation.

"The high-level discourse around fair and ethical recruitment practices clearly shows that is an area of high priority in the region. To this end, member states have committed themselves to align with outputs under the Sadc Labour Migration Action Plan," he said.

"I commend the Southern African Development Community for the relentless effort towards developing a normative Regional Migration Policy Framework and its accompanying action plan, which will outline key practices and actions for a regional response. I am also aware that the Sadc guidelines on social security benefits seek to correct the shortcomings of labour migration arrangements of yesteryears."

The President said Zimbabwe was implementing the Sadc guidelines through greater collaboration with a number of countries in the region as guided by existing bilateral frameworks.

"This will go a long way in providing robust mechanisms for safeguarding the rights, identity, dignity and welfare of migrant workers. As the current crop of leaders in the region, we remain determined and focused towards finding lasting solutions to the issue of labour migration," he said.

"This is more pertinent as the issue of labour migration governance is central to promoting and entrenching the Sadc's integration agenda."

Zimbabwe has since domesticated some of the provisions of the international protocol on trafficking to include the criminalisation of offenders as well as enacting survivor-centred provisions for victims of trafficking.

Section 5 of the Zimbabwe Trafficking in Person Act, domesticated Article 6 (1) of the Protocol where vulnerable victims or witnesses of trafficking are protected as they give evidence in court. Furthermore, Zimbabwean law allows for compensation of victims of trafficking by the perpetrator, such as loss of income, damage to property and medical expenses among other things.

President Mnangagwa said his administration launched the National Labour Migration Policy in June to improve Zimbabwe's governance of labour migration and implement the Global Compact for Safe and Orderly Migration.

"The policy is forward-looking and rights-based and aims to foster the empowerment of migrant workers as well as ensuring that migration contributes significantly to the country's sustainable socio-economic development. The policy attests to the commitment and resolve of the Second Republic to promote safe, orderly and regular migration of our people in a dignified manner that protects their safety and rights," he said.

"We are finalising the National Labour Migration Policy aimed at comprehensively addressing all migration-related issues in the country."

He said the development and adoption of these policies show the commitment by the Government to ensure that it harnesses the benefits that accrue from migration as the country accelerates the attainment of Vision 2030 of becoming a prosperous and empowered upper-middle-income society.

"In line with the priorities outlined in our National Labour Migration Policy, my government is prioritising the conclusion of bilateral labour migration agreements with countries that seek to recruit labour from Zimbabwe. This is expected to significantly promote safe and regular migration of our people for employment purposes," said President Mnangagwa.

"In this regard, the Government has concluded a bilateral labour migration agreement for the recruitment of educational personnel and other specialists with the Republic of Rwanda."

The first group of recruited personnel to work in Rwanda was deployed at the end of October.

"The arrangement satisfied the mutually beneficial interests of both countries. Similar arrangements can be extended within the region as the first step towards curbing irregular labour migration in the region and for greater economic integration and deepening areas of mutual cooperation," said President Mnangagwa.

He said the Government, with the support of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), is establishing migrant resources centres across the country.

The centres are expected to become information hubs to ensure that potential migrants receive relevant and up-to-date information, guaranteeing citizens to make informed choices and decisions.

The President commended the International Labour Organisation (ILO) for adopting and utilizing social dialogue platforms to promote sound labour migration governance.

On the part of employers, orderly migration facilitates access to skills possessed by immigrants to cover gaps that may exist in the local labour market, said President Mnangagwa.

"In the case of workers, the main interest is in ensuring that labour migrants enjoy the same rights as local workers and do not become a reserve pool of cheap labour preferable to employers at the expense of local workers," he said.

"On the part of the Government, the central issue is to ensure that labour migration has a positive impact on economic growth and development."

President Mnangagwa implored Sadc countries to help manage the migration phenomenon while at the same time driving the development agenda of the region.

Source - The Herald