Unions and labour experts say government must now ratify the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 190 in order to strengthen the Sexual Harassment Policy 2022 which was launched recently.
The policy launch comes at a time when the country has been experiencing a steep increase of sexual harassment and gender based violence at the workplace and has been viewed as a sign of government’s commitment to curtail this scourge.
Public Service and Social Welfare Minister Paul Mavima said the Sexual Harassment Policy which was launched through the Public Service Commission (PSC) was a brainchild of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government which aims at promoting reforms in the public service sector.
Speaking to the Review & Mail, Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) president Dr Takavafira Zhou said while they appreciated the enactment of the Sexual Harassment Policy 2022, they were worried about whether it would be implemented or not.
“We have seen several policies instituted by thePSC but such policies failing to be implemented properly. So we remain sceptical about the ability of the PSC to ensure that the policy is put into effect in order to arrest sexual harassment at work places,” he said.
Zhou bemoaned the high unemployment rate in the country, which he said was the driving force behind most cases of sexual harassment in the country.
“As long as there is such a scenario where there is high unemployment rate and where a number of people also get employed through hook and crook, sexual harassment in workplaces will continue. As much as there is a policy, it remains difficult to ascertain that such a policy will ensure that sexual harassment is eradicated,” He said.
Labour and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe (LEDRIZ) senior analyst Nyasha Muchichwa welcomed the Sexual Harassment Policy but also urged government to go ahead and ratify other provisions stipulated by the ILO including Convention 190.
“The adoption of the policy by government goes a long way in terms of developing and ensuring that issues of harassment and violence within the workplace are addressed and there is policy legislation that caters for it.
“So this is a very much welcome development and it’s something that we want to see in place. We also hope to see the Government of Zimbabwe ratifying ILO Convention 190 and also a process of the labour law reform also will see the inclusion of key provisions from the Convention in terms of curtailing issues of harassment and violence within the workplace itself and create a safe workplace which ensures that there are procedures and remedies in cases where such unwarranted events happen,” said.
Muchichwa said Issues of harassment were key and had to be addressed just as issues of development and human security within the workplace itself.
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) head of Education, Women and Gender desk Fiona Magaya complimented government for introducing the new policy, saying it would go a long way in addressing issues of sexual harassment that had become common in the public sector.
“The Sexual Harassment Policy is a welcome development because there have been serious reports from public service workers on sexual harassment and GBV. If implemented, the policy will create an avenue for protection of victims, reporting procedure and punitive measures to perpetrators. But the key issue is implementation or enforcement that is important,” she said.
Magaya, however, said the ZCTU was still demanding a comprehensive sexual harassment law that would protect the entire citizens as well as ratification and domestication of ILO Convention 190.