(STATEMENT ON the occasion of the 2017 International Workers Day – 01 May 2017)
(Public Statement 6/2017)
Issue Date: 30 April 2017
The government and local authorities are not only violating the rights of human beings involved in informal work, but are also committing a state crime through the continued brazen, arbitrary and unwarranted harassment, arrest and confiscation of wares of informal workers.
As we join the world in commemorating the 2017 International Workers’ Day, we at Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR) note with grave concern that informal workers in Zimbabwe (and various parts of Matabeleland) continue to face lack of protection from administrative justice and in terms of their fundamental human rights to dignity and protection, they are treated worse than murderers, rapists, bank robbers and car hijackers.
Realizing that informal work is a consequence of poor government economic and governance policies and cognisant of the reality that formal employment is very extinct in the country as evidenced by the over 80% unemployment rate; it is therefore morally, logically and ethically just for the government and local authorities to formulate new policies and by-laws that protect, promote and fulfil the rights of informal workers instead of treating them with disdain.
Having lost their employment, their incomes, their livelihoods and their sustenance due to the poor economic and political policies of government, citizens of Zimbabwe had three tough choices:
- Violently protest and overthrow the government;
- Resort to looting, crime, vice and criminality; or
- Peacefully make ends meet through the only available means – informal work.
Realizing that the Citizens have already proved their unwavering commitment and sacrifice to peace, unity and nation building by resorting to the difficult option of peacefully engaging in survival informal work; it is therefore imperative for the state and its agencies to desist from continuing to provoke citizens to violence through the abuse of informal workers’ rights.
People involved in informal work are doing so to enhance and fulfil their fundamental human rights and freedoms that include right to food and water, right to health care, right to education, right to property, right to personal liberty, right to human dignity, right to privacy, and fundamentally right to life. It is therefore the duty of the state and the local authorities to ensure that these fundamental human rights are not covertly robbed through administrative reasons.
The continued harassment, arrest and confiscation of goods of informal workers is a serious human rights violation and human rights and administrative justice institutions such as the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission, civic society organizations, individual councillors and parliamentarians and relevant council and parliamentary structures should properly advise the state and the local authorities to desist from such continued rights violations.
The General Secretary
Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights