MATABELELAND Institute for Human Rights (MIHR) has urged government and local authorities to formulate new policies for informal workers and ensure fundamental human rights are respected.
In a statement, MIHR secretary general Benedict Sibasa said as they join the world in commemorating the 2017 International Workers’ Day, they note with grave concern that informal workers in Zimbabwe 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.
“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,” said Sibasa.
MIHR said informal work is a consequence of poor government economic and governance policies.
“Formal employment is very extinct in the country as evidenced by the over 80 percent 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 fulfill the rights of informal workers instead of treating them with disdain,” said Sibasa.
They said citizens who have lost their employments, incomes, livelihoods and their sustenance due to the poor economic and political policies of government have come up with three tough choices.
“Zimbabwe citizens have come up with three tough choices to deal with their situation that is violently protest and overthrow the government, resort to looting, crime, vice and criminality and peacefully make ends meet through the only available means,” reads part of the statement.
MIHR said the continued harassment, arrest and confiscation of goods of informal workers is a serious human rights violation.
“Human rights and administrative justice institutions such as the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission, civic society organisations, 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,” said MIHR.
“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.”
Sibasa also said 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.