January shootings: ILO lists Zim in global labour bad company

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By Alois Vinga

ZIMBABWE is among 40 countries, that will be up for discussion at the ongoing International Labour Organisation (ILO), 108th session that kicked off Wednesday in Geneva, Switzerland.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government has been listed among countries accused of violating the ILO’s conventions, related to the deadly shooting of 17 protestors in January this year after demonstrations organised by labour federation the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU).

According to a statement seen by, Zimbabwe’s case will be heard before the Committee on the Application of Standards on Friday June 14.

ZCTU Legal Advisor, Zakeyo Mtimtema confirmed this in an interview with New from Geneva.

“We filed a complaint with the ILO, after failing to get recourse back home, over the rampant workers rights abuses which have seen labour leaders being arrested. Our offices have been attacked with gunfire at the height of disturbances linked to elections,” Mtimutema said.

Zimbabwe stands accused of violating the ILO’s Convention 87 that provides for the protection of Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise.

Mtimtema said the listing is also a result of the current tense situation which has forced workers to be scared of participating in demonstrations.

Previously, the country has been listed for violating Convention 98, which provides for the right to organise and collective bargaining, that the government had allegedly interfered with after amendments to the country’s labour laws.

In 2015, Zimbabwe was also placed on the agenda for violating ILO’s Convention 105, which stipulates that member states must undertake to suppress and not to make use of any form of forced or compulsory labour  as a political tool against those with an alternative view.

The listings resulted in the country receiving a high level fact finding ILO delegation which gave recommendations aimed at improving the country’s labour market.

However, most of the recommendations have not yet been implemented.

The development also comes just a week after the launch of the legislated Tripartite Negotiating Forum aimed at bringing business, labour and government to the negotiating table.

Efforts to reach Labour Minister, Sekai Nzenza who is also in Geneva were fruitless.