HomeOpinion & AnalysisParliament should enact a broader Sexual Harassment Act

Parliament should enact a broader Sexual Harassment Act

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ON May 4, 2022, the Women’s Academy for Leadership and Political Excellence (Walpa) submitted a petition to Parliament lobbying for the enactment of a broader stand-alone Sexual Harassment Act.

This came after government introduced a sexual harassment policy for the workplace, which is, however, silent on sexual harassment in public spheres and other facets of society.

The current policy on sexual harassment introduced by government is meant to ensure a conducive public service workplace environment free from sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse.

It was brought about with the intention of protecting the dignity of workers in the public service and provide maximum work productivity and effective service delivery.

The current policy is underpinned by the following principles:

  • To combat sexual harassment in the public service;
  • To provide a safe working environment that is free from sexual harassment;
  • To support diversity and inclusive work practices;
  • To put in place mechanisms for redress in cases of sexual harassment in the public service; and
  • To inform all members that if allegations of sexual harassment are levelled and substantiated against them, they are liable for such actions.

Walpe welcomes government’s zero tolerance to sexual harassment in the workplace and in the same vein appeals to Parliament to consider putting in place a broader act that protects women and girls from harassment occurring both in public and private spaces.

Walpe’s petition appeals to Parliament to:

  • Enact an all-inclusive and stand-alone sexual harassment Act that deals with cases of sexual harassment that take place in both private and public spheres, including at the workplace, schools, tertiary institutions, in politics, in queues, water points, public transport ranks, vending sites etc.
  • Put in place a clear and broader definition of sexual harassment and clear punitive measures for perpetrators of both light and grave offences including imprisonment of perpetrators.
  • Make sure the Act has a clause which bars perpetrators of sexual harassment in political parties from ever occupying public
    office.
  • Make it mandatory for political parties to adopt the Sexual Harassment Act once made into law and ensure all their political party members are made aware of it and the consequences of violating it to ensure the protection of women political activists across the country.
  • The petition also calls for clear and concise regulations that protect women candidates throughout the electoral cycle as they are sexually harassed to demotivate and deter them from occupying leadership positions.Walpe

Treasury must implement IMF recommendations

THE International Monetary Fund (IMF) board has often made recommendations to the Zimbabwean authorities if the country is to extricate itself out of the mess it finds itself in.

Government should implement the necessary reforms to foster higher, more inclusive growth and pave the way for re-engagement with the international community.

More government revenue should be generated from domestic sources, particularly through broadening the tax base and improving tax administration and compliance.

Reforms of State-owned enterprises should be accelerated.

Fiscal controls should be enhanced in order to limit fiscal risks, i.e, government overspending.

Government should use its IMF special drawing rights allocation prudently and transparently.

It should also make further efforts to enhance debt management and transparency.

There should be further monetary tightening, given persistently high inflation.

The operational independence of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe should be enhanced, at the same time, the central bank should discontinue its quasi-fiscal operations.

There should be greater exchange rate flexibility, with a more transparent and market-driven process for determining the rate of exchange between the Zimbabwe dollar and foreign currencies.

Exchange restrictions and multiple currency practices should be phased out as soon as conditions permit.

While the recommendations are undoubtedly sound, they mean that Zimbabwe will have to go back to austerity and more liberalisation of the economy.

This will be difficult for the authorities to implement, bearing in mind that Zimbabwe is just over a year away from the 2023 general elections and that a bad harvest is expected this year.

As we move towards elections, government is likely to pursue populist policies — increasing money supply, protecting its voters from food insecurity and building more infrastructure — rather than embracing the austerity and fiscal prudence on which our long-term economic health depends.Veritas

Police should stop brutalising citizens

THE Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) has paid more than $140 000 as compensation to a Harare woman who was tear-gassed by some law enforcement agents three years ago.

Fifty-eight-year old Mavis Muzari was left nursing injuries and hospitalised at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals after slipshod ZRP officers indiscriminately threw a teargas canister inside a commuter omnibus which landed on her lap.

As a result of the negligent police conduct, Muzari was left bleeding from her nose, suffered high blood pressure, sustained serious injury to her foot, including some bruises and felt pain all over her body.

This compelled her to sue Police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga and Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage minister Kazembe Kazembe for damages amounting to
$142 170 for violation of her fundamental rights including loss of income, pain and suffering, embarrassment, humiliation and future medical expenses.

Since 2019, ZRP and Kazembe had vacillated to compensate Muzari and in 2021, she filed an application at the High Court seeking to compel Kazembe and Matanga to comply with the Harare Magistrate Court’s ruling to pay her $142 170.

Matanga and Kazembe only responded positively after a contempt of court judgment hung over theirs heads.

What a shame that the two had to be forced twice to act.

Muzari is the latest person among dozens of people who in recent years have won compensation from the ZRP after suing for damages arising from the violation of their rights as a result of the wayward and overzealous conduct of some police officers in the execution of their law enforcement duties.

Why are the police brutalising innocent and defenceless citizens in the first place?Rights Lawyers

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