Q & A
*HON. SEN. TIMVEOS: Thank you Madam President. My question goes to the Minister of Home Affairs. Hon. Minister, I noticed that you arrested those people who engaged in human trafficking of women and girls to Kuwait. I do not think it is enough for you to just arrest them. I want to know what measures or policy you have in place that such trafficking is brought to an end because in this country, it is now a serious crime that is rampant in Zimbabwe. What policy have you put in place to ensure that our children are not trafficked to other countries? It is not only Kuwait but I hear also China, Brazil and other countries, and our children are going there. What policy do you have as a Home Affairs Ministry to ensure that our children are not trafficked and forced in to slavery in these countries?
*THE MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS (HON. DR. CHOMBO): It is true, it is a painful and an embarrassing situation for someone to be trafficked to another country without information on where she will be working. As she gets there, her passport is taken away and stays there while she is forced to work long hours being treated as a slave. That is what happened to our girl children who went to Kuwait. This is not to say we did not have legislation.
Two years ago, the Government passed the Human Trafficking Act and realised that it is a very important issue. Those people who engage in human trafficking are using their offices to ensure that the documents are obtained for one to go out of the country or their own premises to facilitate human trafficking. This happened without our knowledge. So, when the Government became aware of it, the Government then investigated and realised that there are more than 32 people who are engaged in this. Some are in Kuwait and others within the area but around 20 of them are here in our country.
Together with the ZRP, we arrested them because they engaged in criminal activities. That is the duty of the police to ensure that they are brought to book. We have about seven who are on the run. No matter where they go, we will still apprehend them and bring them to book because of the trauma they have caused to our children. A Committee is there that is chaired by Home Affairs and was put in place by the Government. We work together with the Ministry of Labour and Social Services, Women Affairs, Foreign Affairs, the President’s Office as well as the police. The Committee also works with the United Nations Office on the drug situation in South Africa. It also works with IOM Chief of Mission who is here.
Yesterday and today, there was a meeting on how this matter can be addressed. So, you will hear of the report on television. This is what is known as the National Action Plan on how we can publicise and raise awareness in the country because a person will have been called to come and work. It is his right to go and do that but you realise that for these low paying jobs, there is a challenge. If it is an issue of teachers at universities, nurses and doctors, in most cases, what they have agreed in the contract is fulfilled, but in these low paying jobs whereby one thinks a favour is being done, where health certificates and police clearance is forged, is where the serious challenge is.
There is going to be a serious campaign to educate Zimbabweans that these issues are also taking place and are occurring in Zimbabwe. We used to hear them happen in neighbouring countries. These issues have people who are behind the scenes who are international criminals and are syndicates. They work behind the scenes and that is why we work with Hon. Mupfumira. We do not want the victims to be known or even their faces to be shown because they might be in danger from those syndicates. So, we want to thank the police for apprehending these criminals, bringing them to book and ensuring that it does not happen again.
Here as Members of Parliament, when we go back over the weekend to our constituencies to give feedback, let us go – inform and educate people that if they see an advert that is attractive, especially for housemaids, they should enquire the authenticity of this from the police. We also said to Hon. Mupfumira, that we need a bilateral agreement with countries that want to recruit Zimbabwean labour so that we know where our children are going to work. We are taking serious and strong measures to this particular issue. We also went to the Embassy of Kuwait and requested that they stop giving visas to Zimbabwean people; and that they give us a record of all Zimbabweans who have gone to Kuwait in order to check on them. So, I think our Government is on its feet trying to address the issue. Some of the girls returned today, by the way.
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