The State Department web site below is a permanent electronic archive of information released prior to January 20, 2001.  Please see for material released since President George W. Bush took office on that date.  This site is not updated so external links may no longer function.  Contact us with any questions about finding information.

NOTE: External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views contained therein.

Department Seal


TITLE:  ZIMBABWE HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1993                            
DATE:  JANUARY 31, 1994


Zimbabwe is governed by President Robert Mugabe and his 
Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) which 
has dominated the legislative and executive branches of 
government since independence in 1980.  The Constitution allows 
for multiple parties; in addition to ZANU-PF, there are several 
smaller parties.  In 1993 they were deeply divided, poorly 
financed, and faced periodic intimidation by government 
security forces.  The Forum Party was launched in March and 
quickly became the largest and best organized opposition party.

The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) is responsible for 
maintaining law and order.  The size of the Police Internal 
Security and Intelligence (PISI) unit, a branch of the ZRP, was 
reduced in 1993.  The Central Intelligence Organization (CIO) 
falls under the Ministry of Security.  Since 1991 the CIO and 
PISI have not been permitted to arrest, detain, or interrogate 
suspects in internal security cases.  In the past, the CIO was 
accused of human rights abuses, including the use of torture; 
however, there were no new reports of torture by the CIO or the 
ZRP in 1993.  The Air Force and Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) 
also have intelligence staff structures, which perform a 
variety of intelligence and security functions.

Zimbabwe's economy has strong agricultural and mining sectors 
and a diversified manufacturing base.  The Government remained 
committed to the Economic Structural Adjustment Program (ESAP), 
despite severe hardships the Program caused average 
Zimbabweans.  Although Zimbabwe began to recover from the 
effects of the devastating 1991-92 drought, which caused a 
decline of between 8 and 9 percent in the gross domestic 
product, the unemployment rate was almost 45 percent.  
Thousands remained chronically dependent on food support 1 year 
into a good post-drought agricultural season.  Although the 
need for land reform is widely accepted, the 1992 Land 
Acquisition Act has been implemented along racial lines.

There were several positive developments in 1993; however, 
human rights abuses continued, notably deplorable prison 
conditions, police brutality, and some irregularities in local 
and by-elections.  A white paper on the draft inheritance law, 
which will clarify (particularly women's) inheritance rights, 
was widely circulated and comment requested from a 
cross-section of Zimbabweans.  Public education and vigorous 
prosecution reduced the incidence of such traditional practices 
as refusing to bury a woman's body until her lobola (bride 
price) is paid and forcing a widow to marry her 
brother-in-law.  Supreme Court instructions directed 
magistrates to determine for the record that unrepresented 
defendents fully understand their rights and that mitigating 
circumstances are considered even if they are not part of the 
defense.  In August, the Minister of Justice announced the 
establishment of an Inter-Ministerial Committee on Human 
Rights.  However, by year's end the Committee had not taken any 
concrete action.  The Government has failed to investigate 
fully atrocities committed during the "1982-87 Matabeleland 
Dissident Crisis" or to prosecute fully those involved.  In 
general, the Government was unable or unwilling to try, 
convict, and punish those responsible for human rights abuses.  
Prison conditions were deplorable.  On occasion the Government 
acted to restrict freedom of assembly and association, and 
traditional, often illegal, discrimination against women 
continued.  It used its majority in Parliament to weaken the 
Bill of Rights, the courts, and the authority of Parliament 
itself.  The Government put checks on Zimbabwe's independent 
judiciary, and it passed a political parties financing law from 
which only the ruling party can benefit.  There were incidents 
of intimidation and problems with the voters' rolls in local 
and by-elections.


Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
           Freedom from:

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

There were no confirmed political killings or summary 
executions by government security forces in 1993.  In 1990 a 
15-year-old boy, Happy Dhlakama, died mysteriously in police 
custody.  Following inquiries, in July 1993 the Attorney 
General opened an inquest into Dhlakama's death.  An April 
inquest into the 1992 death of Forum for Democratic Reform 
Trust (FDRT) official Mthandazo Ndema Ngwenya ruled out foul 
play and concluded that the accident in which he died was 
caused by driver negligence.  Although rumors still circulate 
that the Government was involved in the June 1992 fatal car 
crash of FDRT youth leader Chris Giwa, Zimbabwean human rights 
groups, except for the FDRT and the political party it spawned, 
were satisfied that the crash, like Ngwenya's, was an accident 
and that the investigation of the incident was properly handled.

A number of cases raised in the 1992 Human Rights Report were 
concluded:  Flight Lieutenant Michael Banana, son of former 
President Canaan Banana, was convicted of wrongful death 
(manslaughter) in the shooting of Donald Kalinda and sentenced 
to an effective 18 months' imprisonment.  In late 1993, he was 
out on bail pending appeal.  Two CIO officers were convicted of 
attempted murder for the March 1990 shooting of candidate for 
Parliament Patrick Kombayi and sentenced to 7 years in jail.  
The judgment was highly critical of the CIO and ZRP, accusing 
them of biased reporting favoring ZANU-PF.  The judgment 
suggested further investigations were required to determine if 
Vice President Simon Muzenda's bodyguards and driver should be 
tried for possible involvement in the shooting.  Although the 
Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) came forward 
with new evidence indicating that Lieutenant Shepard Chisango's 
June 7, 1991 "fall" from a ZNA vehicle was not an accident, 
observers considered it unlikely that the Government would 
reopen the case it dismissed in 1992 for lack of evidence.  The 
Chisango case likely dampens even further any tendency for 
military officers publicly to denounce corruption in the armed 

According to Minister of Home Affairs Dumiso Dubengwa, forensic 
scientists determined that human remains found during 
construction at CIO headquarters in 1992 were over 40 years 
old.  However, human rights groups suspect that there may be a 
cover-up.  While eyewitnesses report seeing "bodies," the 
Government first reported the discovery of "bones" and then a 

A commission established in 1984 to investigate atrocities 
committed during the 1982-87 Matabeleland Crisis, the 
Simplicius Chihambakwe Commission, conducted interviews in 
Bulawayo for 2 days in mid-1993.  According to human rights 
groups, the information collected in that brief time was so 
damning that the investigation was suspended.  Chihambakwe's 
report was submitted to President Mugabe but has not been made 
public.  Human rights groups are not optimistic that the 
investigation will be continued until after Zimbabwe's 1995 
parliamentary elections.  The Government has declared that 
victims of the Matabeleland Crisis can now be declared legally 
dead under the Missing Persons Act, but many victims' relatives 
are too frightened to come forward.  In November the 
Organization of African Unity's Human Rights Committee 
reportedly pressed the Government to compensate the victims of 
the Matabeleland Crisis; Government officials replied that 
President Mugabe had already declared in October 1992 that no 
compensation would be paid because any atrocities committed 
were perpetrated during a "state of war."

     b.  Disappearance

There were no disappearances in 1993.  The man allegedly 
responsible for the 1990 disappearance of Rashiwe Guzha, her 
boyfriend and Deputy Director of the CIO Edson Shirihuru, died 
in July.  It is, therefore, unlikely that the case will be 
reopened despite calls from the CCJP and the Zimbabwe Human 
Rights Association (ZIMRIGHTS) for a new investigation.

     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

In a landmark decision, in June the Supreme Court commuted the 
death sentences of four death row inmates, ruling that the 
death sentence, though legally imposed, had been rendered 
unconstitutional (cruel and inhuman punishment) by the long 
delay between conviction and planned execution dates and the 
harsh, degrading conditions of confinement.  The Government 
accepted the ruling and went on to commute the death sentences 
of 32 other long-time residents of death row.  Within months, 
however, Constitutional Amendment 13, declaring, inter alia, 
that long delays in the carrying out of sentences do not 
constitute cruel and unusual punishment, was passed by 

There were no credible reports of torture in 1993.  However, 
the family of Nhlanhla Dlodlo demanded an inquest into his 
death.  The family alleges Dlodlo was beaten to death in police 
custody.  The Government did not actively pursue allegations 
that torture was used in the past; no CIO or ZRP officials were 
prosecuted for such abuses in 1993.

Police brutality remained a problem.  In several police 
shooting incidents in 1993, the police launched their own 
investigation, called on witnesses from the public to come 
forward, and charged officers involved with wrongful death 
(manslaughter).  One was convicted of murder and sentenced to 
death in February, and several others remained in custody at 
year's end.  In an effort to professionalize the police force, 
the ZRP extended its 6-month training course for recruits to 2 
years.  In 1993 the Legal Resources Foundation (LRF) worked on 
the design of a legal and human rights syllabus to be 
incorporated into the recruits' training curriculum.  The LRF 
also conducted human rights training workshops for senior 
police officers and planned to conduct similar workshops for 
the police rank and file in 1994.  In addition there were 
workshops for community relations officers on dealing with 
cases of rape and wife beating.

Overcrowding is a serious problem in Zimbabwean prisons.  In 
September Minister of Justice, Legal, and Parliamentary Affairs 
Emmerson Mnangagwa confirmed that 223 prisoners died in the 
first 8 months of the year, primarily from outbreaks of 
cholera, diarrhea, and AIDS-related illnesses aggravated by 
squalid, overcrowded conditions.  A CCJP report released in 
August revealed that 22,600 inmates were incarcerated in a 
prison system built to accommodate 16,000.  The Government 
announced an amnesty for 6,000 prisoners in April to ease 
overcrowding, but by July the prison population had returned to 
its preamnesty levels.  In some prisons, this meant that 
prisoners were allowed less than .65 square meters per person.  
Because the Mlondolozi Prison, which is supposed to accommodate 
mentally ill prisoners, was full, mentally disturbed prisoners 
were scattered throughout the regular prison system.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

The police must by law inform an arrested person of the charges 
against him before he is taken into custody.  A person arrested 
on a criminal charge is supposed to have a preliminary hearing 
before a magistrate within 48 hours, but the law is often 
disregarded if a person is not legally represented.  A 1992 
amendment to the Criminal Procedures and Evidence Act 
substantially reduced the power of magistrates to grant bail 
without the consent of the Attorney General or his agents.  
Although the rule has been decried by legal practitioners and 
magistrates, in practice a circular issued by the Attorney 
General giving a general authority to grant bail has lessened 
the negative impact of the change.  High court judges still 
grant bail independently.

The Government may still apply a wide range of legal powers 
under the Official Secrets Act or the Law and Order 
(Maintenance) Act (LOMA).  Originally promulgated 30 years ago 
and widely used in the past to prosecute political opponents, 
the LOMA has extremely wide and vague sections on political and 
security crimes and gives extensive powers to the police, the 
Minister of Home Affairs, and the President.  The Government 
has not invoked the LOMA frequently, fearing that its 
oppressive provisions might be declared unconstitutional.  It 
was usually invoked to prevent gatherings or demonstrations 
rather than to arrest or prosecute individuals.  Although 
Minister of Home Affairs Dumiso Dabengwa said in February that 
the LOMA would be repealed, in November he announced that it 
would not be repealed in 1993.  He also cautioned that certain 
LOMA provisions might be part of new legislation to be 
introduced in Parliament.  In June, six trade unionists who 
were arrested for taking part in a 1992 Zimbabwe Congress of 
Trade Unions (ZCTU) procession in defiance of a government ban, 
challenged the constitutionality of the LOMA in the Supreme 
Court, but the case was postponed indefinitely.

Long court delays and a critical shortage of magistrates and 
court interpreters result in detainees spending long periods in 
prison without trial.  For example, in September, the Harare 
regional and provincial courts had backlogs of 1,400 and 1,900 
cases respectively.  Overall, 17 percent of Zimbabwean 
prisoners in late 1993 had not yet been tried or convicted.  
The CCJP report cited the case of Bulawayo Prison, where on the 
day the CCJP researcher visited, 317 of the prison's 758 
inmates were unconvicted.  An extreme example was the case of 
Daniel Malchabe whose murder trial began on July 24 after his 
being held in the remand center for 7 years.  Officials blamed 
the delay on a general shortage of judicial officers that 
caused delay in completion of investigations.

There were no known political detainees being held at year's 

Exile is not used as a means of political control.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

Zimbabwe's legal system is based on a mixture of Roman-Dutch 
law, English common law, and customary law.  Every defendant 
has the right to select a lawyer of his or her choosing.  In 
criminal cases an indigent may apply to have the Government 
supply an attorney, while in capital cases the Government will 
provide an attorney for all defendants unable to afford one.  
Litigants in civil cases can request legal assistance from the 
LRF or from the Citizens Advice Bureau.

Nearly 92 percent of defendants in magistrates courts are 
unrepresented.  Human rights groups have recently highlighted 
the problem of poor representation for indigent clients, 
particularly in capital cases.  The Supreme Court has 
instructed magistrates to ensure for the record that 
unrepresented defendants fully understand their rights.  In 
addition, the Supreme Court instructed magistrates to determine 
themselves if there are mitigating circumstances in criminal 
cases, whether or not the accused presents them as part of his 
defense.  The right to appeal exists in all cases and is 
automatic in cases in which the death penalty is imposed.  
Trials are open to the public except in certain security cases.

The Customary Law and Local Courts Act of 1990 created a 
unitary court system, consisting of headmen's courts, chiefs' 
courts, magisterial courts, the High Court, and the Supreme 
Court.  With the restructuring of the courts, customary law 
cases can be heard at all levels of the judiciary, including 
the Supreme Court.  In March chiefs' and headmen's courts, 
which can hear limited categories of customary law cases in 
disputes not exceeding $100 and $200 respectively, were 
reactivated.  These courts provide much greater access to the 
legal system to people in remote areas unfamiliar with the 
general law.

Training for magistrates and chiefs conducted by the Chief 
Magistrate and the Legal Resources Foundation was widely 
reported in the press and went a long way toward ending human 
rights violations acceptable under customary law.  For example, 
press coverage of the vigorous prosecution of families who 
refuse to bury their daughters until the widower pays lobola 
(bride price) led to a reduction in the practice.  During 
widely publicized training sessions for chiefs, the Chief 
Magistrate warned that the "ukungena," the custom of forcing a 
widow to marry her late husband's brother, was illegal.  He 
also declared that the practice of paying compensation and 
slaughtering a cow to appease the spirits in cases of incest 
was no longer acceptable.

Although the judicial system lacks structures to guarantee its 
independence, such as life terms for judges, Zimbabwe's 
judiciary has a well-deserved reputation for independence.  
Judges are not fired or transferred for political reasons, and 
the Government generally abides by court decisions even when it 
is strongly opposed to the rulings.  However, the Government 
has submitted constitutional amendments to undermine major 
Supreme Court rulings or anticipated rulings.  For example, 
Amendment 11 changed the Constitution to allow corporal 
punishment of minors after the Supreme Court ruled that caning 
of minors constituted cruel and inhumane punishment, and 
asserted the constitutionality of hanging in anticipation of a 
CCJP test case challenging hanging as a method of execution.  
Amendment 12 declared that the courts did not have jurisdiction 
to determine questions of compensation for compulsory 
acquisition of land.  Amendment 13, tabled just weeks after the 
Supreme Court ruled that long incarceration on death row 
constituted cruel and and inhumane punishment, declared that 
neither treatment of prisoners nor delays in carrying out their 
sentences entitle prisoners to a stay or remission of 
sentence.  The Amendment will apply retroactively.  It was the 
third amendment in a row drafted to undermine a Supreme Court 
ruling or anticipated ruling.  In addition, President Mugabe 
invoked the Presidential Powers Act to overturn a High Court 
eviction order in a civil case.  Legal practitioners feared the 
use of the Act in a civil case set a dangerous precedent.  In 
July President Mugabe declared that if the courts sought to 
interfere with implementation of the Land Acquisition Act, the 
Government would ignore the ruling and "declare a unilateral 
declaration of independence" on the land.

There were no political prisoners at year's end.  However, the 
CCJP remained concerned about 32 former PF-ZAPU guerrillas 
convicted of particularly serious crimes, such as murder, who 
were not beneficiaries of the 1990 general amnesty.

     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 

The Constitution formally protects citizens from arbitrary 
search or entry, and after the lifting of the state of 
emergency (SOE) in June 1990, these protections have been 
generally respected.  It is widely known, however, that the 
Government monitors private correspondence and telephones, 
particularly international communications.

Although the need for land reform in Zimbabwe is almost 
universally accepted, implementation of the 1992 Land 
Acquisition Act denies farmers whose lands have been designated 
for acquisition adequate due process; they may only appeal the 
amount of compensation in administrative courts, not the 
decision to acquire their farms.

Commercial farmers are overwhelmingly white; as a result, the 
Act has been implemented de facto along racial lines.  
Designations of most black "emergent farmers" have been 
dropped, and President Mugabe referred to white farmers as 
"racist settlers."  Questioned on implementatiom of the Act, he 
attacked representatives of concerned governments as "racial 
bigots from countries whose red Indians, Eskimos, and blacks 
are discriminated against."  In some cases, land has been 
designated for acquisition to achieve political goals.  The 
designation of former Member of Parliament (M.P.) Henry 
Ellsworth's farm is a particularly egregious example.  His farm 
(and home) were designated shortly after press reports alleged 
that he required 24 women caught stealing firewood on his 
property to  remove their clothes as punishment.  Minister of 
Lands, Agriculture and Water Development Kumbirai Kangai 
publicly defended the decision to designate Ellsworth's farm by 
terming it "due punishment" and stating that it was the 
"quickest tool to achieve the desired result."  The farms of 
Ndabaningi Sithole and James Chikerema, political opponents of 
the ruling party, were designated in April.  However, a 
commission on land tenure was established in November, and the 
Government and commercial farmers began a constructive dialog 
on land issues.

The Government evicted over 2,500 squatter families in 1993, 
often without providing adequate alternative arrangements.  In 
October the ZRP moved in force to evict the 4,000 residents of 
opposition ZANU-Ndonga leader Ndabaningi Sithole's Churu Farm.  
The Government made almost no provision for their alternative 
settlement.  Senior Minister of Local Government, Rural and 
Urban Development Joseph Msika said Churu Farm residents should 
"go and join their homeless colleagues in the streets" and then 
apply to his Ministry for aid.  With the assistance of 
Zimbabwean human rights groups, Churu Farm residents appealed 
against the Government's eviction order.  The High Court ruled 
that the evictions were illegal because the Government had not 
given residents 90 days' notice.  At year's end, the situation 
was a stand-off:  Police remained encamped at the farm, and 
nearly 1,000 families were living in makeshift huts along the 
road, afraid to return to their homes.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

The Constitution provides for freedom of expression but allows 
for legislation to limit this freedom in the "interest of 
defense, public safety, public order, state economic interests, 
public morality, and public health."  In practice, there are 
significant restrictions.  At public events it is generally 
assumed that speakers are under surveillance and may be subject 
to follow-up questioning by the CIO if their remarks are judged 
too controversial.

Zimbabwe's major print media (seven English-language newspapers 
and one vernacular broadsheet) belong to the Mass Media Trust, 
a holding company heavily influenced by the Government and 
ruling party.  In May the Government ruled out the possibility 
of privatizing the cash-strapped Zimbabwe Inter-Africa News 
Agency (Ziana Wire Service).  The Government influences 
mainstream media through indirect ownership, editorial 
appointments, directives to editors, and removal of wayward 
editors.  There is no opposition press per se, but a small 
independent press, consisting primarily of a daily, an economic 
weekly, two Sunday tabloids, and three monthly magazines, 
carefully monitors government policies and opens its pages to 
opposition critics.  Other minor independent publications 
exist, with circulations under 3,000 and varying frequencies.  
Despite its harsh public attacks on many of these publications, 
the Government has taken no overt punitive measures against 
them, but there is a high degree of self-censorship aggravated 
by antidefamation laws which make no distinction between public 
and private persons.

Radio and television are entirely government owned and 
controlled.  In May the Zimbabwe Broadcast Corporation (ZBC) 
refused to run paid Forum Party advertisements and 
announcements of meetings.  When pressed for a written reason 
why the advertisements could not be purchased, the ZBC reversed 
the decision.  Opposition party rallies and press conferences 
receive only limited television or radio coverage.  In July 
President Mugabe rejected the possibility of allowing an 
independent broadcasting station, stating "you don't know what 
propaganda they are going to broadcast."

Academic freedom remained curtailed by the University of 
Zimbabwe and the National University of Science and Technology 
Amendment Acts (1990) which greatly restrict the independence 
of these universities from government influence and extend the 
disciplinary powers of the university authorities against staff 
and students.  However, in April the Supreme Court ruled that 
three University of Zimbabwe students expelled for their part 
in May 1992 student demonstrations should be reinstated.  There 
were no major student demonstrations in 1993.  Students at the 
National University of Science and Technology in Bulawayo 
protested the slow disbursement of government funds for campus 
expansion, but the demonstrations were poorly organized and 

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The Constitution formally provides for the right of assembly 
and association for political and nonpolitical organizations, 
including a broad spectrum of economic, social, professional, 
and recreational activities.  There are several active 
political parties and human rights organizations, as well as 35 
trade unions.  The formation of unions and political parties is 
not restricted.  In law and in practice, however, serious 
obstacles prevent the full exercise of this right, particularly 
in the case of political associations.  The broadest authority 
for restricting these freedoms is contained in the LOMA.  Since 
the lifting of the SOE, the Government has relied on the LOMA 
to limit freedom of association or assembly, invoking the Act 
five times in the first 2 months of 1993.  Organizations are 
generally free of governmental interference as long as their 
activities are viewed as nonpolitical.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

Freedom of religion is respected in Zimbabwe.

There is no state religion.  Denominations are permitted to 
worship openly, pursue social and charitable activities, and 
maintain ties with affiliates and coreligionists abroad.

Religious belief is neither a handicap nor an advantage in 
terms of professional or political advancement.

     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

Travel at home and abroad is not generally subject to official 
restrictions, although in the past restrictions were 
occasionally applied to prevent anticipated criticism of the 
Government before foreign audiences.  There were no reports of 
restrictions in 1993.  Zimbabwean-born people do not have 
automatic right of return.  Zimbabwean women may not confer 
citizenship or even apply for automatic residence registration 
for their spouses and children.

According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees 
(UNHCR), in 1993 the registered refugee population was 
estimated at 140,000, mostly Mozambicans.  The Government 
permitted UNHCR officials unrestricted access to Mozambican 
refugee camps.  Another 100,000 Mozambicans, many of them 
migrant farmers, were self-settled in rural areas in the east.  
The Government announced in September that it intended to 
repatriate 70,000 Mozambican refugees, but only 9,300 had been 
repatriated by year's end.  The refugees are being screened by 
the UNHCR.  No instances of refoulement (summary repatriation 
to a country where a refugee claims to fear persecution) were 
reported in 1993.

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens 
           to Change Their Government

Citizens have the legal right to change their government 
through democratic means, but the March 1990 presidential and 
parliamentary elections--with intimidation by the security 
forces, lopsided media coverage, inaccuracies in the voters' 
rolls, and irregularities in some constituencies--called into 
question their ability to exercise that right.  The ruling 
party captured 117 of the 120 seats in those elections; as a 
result, there is still no effective parliamentary opposition.

President Mugabe and his Cabinet are the preeminent political 
figures, and the ruling party, ZANU-PF, is the dominant 
political organization in the country.  Following the amendment 
of the Constitution in 1987 to create a strong executive 
presidency, Robert Mugabe, who previously served as Prime 
Minister, became in 1988 both the Head of State and the Head of 
Government.  The Executive President was elected in 1990 to a 
term of 6 years.  The President appoints both vice presidents 
and the rest of the Cabinet, who serve at his pleasure.

The Political Parties Funding Act inhibits the development of 
opposition parties by providing government funding only to 
those parties which have more than 15 parliamentary seats.  No 
other party will be able to secure 15 seats before the 1995 
national elections; opposition parties currently hold only 3 of 
the 150 seats in Zimbabwe's Parliament.  The 1993-94 budget 
provides $4.6 million in public funding for ZANU-PF, up from 
$3.1 million in 1992-93.

The net result of several constitutional amendments was to 
concentrate power in the executive branch of government.  As in 
many countries with a Westminster system, if an M.P. "crosses 
the floor," e.g., changes his party allegiance, or is declared 
by his party to have ceased to represent its interests in 
Parliament by being critical of its policies, or is expelled 
from that party (perhaps for activities totally unrelated to 
performance as a parliamentarian), such an M.P. immediately 
loses his seat and a by-election has to be held.  This 
provision makes M.P.'s more submissive to the party line.  
However, a small group of backbenchers in the Parliament 
vigorously confronted the Government on a number of issues 
ranging from corruption to parastatal management and water 
projects in 1993.

Problems with the voter rolls and intimidation of voters and 
candidates marred parliamentary by-elections and district 
council elections in 1993.  Credible reports held that CIO 
agents told voters in Matabeleland that the infamous "Fifth 
Brigade" (which left a trail of murder and torture there in the 
mid-1980's) would return if they did not vote for ZANU-PF.  
Rural dwellers reported that government agents told them they 
would not be eligible to receive drought relief if they 
supported the opposition.  ZIMRIGHTS expressed concern over 
allegations of intimidation by security forces of an 
independent candidate in the Matobo by-election.  The Ministry 
of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development stated it was 
investigating complaints that several rural district council 
elections were conducted improperly.  However, no report had 
been issued by year's end.

Problems with the voter rolls meant that hundreds were turned 
away during the by-elections.  The Registrar General of Voters' 
Office worked to update the voter rolls before the 1995 
election; according to Ministry of Home Affairs officials, 
there were 1 million eligible voters whose names had not been 
added to the rolls, and as many as 30 percent of those on the 
current rolls were redundant.  Members of Parliament and 
opposition party members complained that copies of the voter 
roll were not made available to them.

Opposition party members were subject to occasional CIO 
harassment.  Several opposition party leaders lost, or were 
threatened with losing, their jobs.  The discovery of a 
listening device at the Forum's national convention in March 
was widely reported in the press.

The Constitution provides for one person, one vote, and any one 
over the age of 18 is eligible to register to vote in general 
elections.  The Government amalgamated rural and district 
councils in an attempt to end white farm owner domination of 
the councils in rural areas.

In metropolitan areas, save Bulawayo, in the wealthy suburbs 
only homeowners may vote, though in high density urban areas 
renters may vote in city council elections.  Wealthy areas are 
accorded 1 council representative per 3,000 voters, while high 
density districts have 1 council person per 8,000 voters.

Women participate in politics without restriction.  Eight 
female ministerial-level appointees served in 1993, but of the 
150 M.P.'s, only 16 were women.

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
           Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
           of Human Rights

The Government permits private local human rights groups to 
operate in Zimbabwe.  However, it monitors their activities, in 
particular those of the CCJP, which investigates complaints 
from private persons about human rights abuses and conveys its 
findings to the Government.  Other groups which promote human 
rights include ZIMRIGHTS, the Southern African Human Rights 
Foundation (SAHRF), and the Harare-based Legal Resources 
Foundation which oversees the operation of the Bulawayo, Gweru, 
and Masvingo Legal Projects Centers with their libraries and 
information centers, legal aid clinics, and paralegal programs.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) operates a 
regional office in Harare and cooperates with the UNHCR to 
assist Mozambican, South African, and other refugees.

Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
           Disability, Language, or Social Status


Since independence the Government has enacted major laws aimed 
at enhancing women's rights and countering certain traditional 
practices, some of which are based on the view of women as 
dependents or minors.  For example, the Legal Age of Majority 
Act and the Matrimonial Causes Act recognize the capacity of 
women to act independently of their husbands or fathers to own 
property.  Judges on the High Courts have adjudicated cases 
upholding women's rights, including the right to inherit 
property.  The Government and women's rights groups circulated 
a white paper on a draft inheritance law, soliciting comments 
from a cross-section of Zimbabweans and holding meetings to 
inform (particularly rural) women about their rights.  The 
right of a woman to procure or receive government-provided 
contraceptives without her husband's written permission was 
recently accepted.

Nevertheless, many women remain disadvantaged in Zimbabwean 
society.  Ignorance of reforms, illiteracy, economic 
dependency, and prevailing social norms prevent rural women in 
particular from benefiting equally from these changes.  Despite 
legal prohibitions, women are still vulnerable to entrenched 
customary practices which operate against their personal 
rights.  Among these persistent practices are "kuzvarira," the 
practice of pledging a young woman to marriage with a partner 
not of her choosing; "ukungena," the custom of forcing a widow 
to marry her late husband's brother; "lobola," the customary 
obligation of a groom to pay a bride price to the parents of a 
would-be wife; and "ngozi," the customary practice of offering 
a young girl as compensatory payment in interfamily disputes.

As noted above, legal education and vigorous prosecution of 
offenders significantly reduced the practices of ukungena and 
refusing to bury a woman until lobola is paid.

A considerable expansion of the nation's educational system 
resulted in an increase in the absolute number of girls being 
educated but did not alter the pattern of male domination of 
the higher levels of education.  Though legislation prohibits 
discrimination in employment on the basis of gender, women are 
concentrated in the lower echelons of the work force and in 
urban areas face harassment in the workplace.  Fear of losing 
employment often prevents women from reporting sexual 
harassment at work.

Domestic violence against women, especially wife beating, is 
common and crosses all racial and economic lines in Zimbabwe.  
Consequently, several social welfare organizations, including 
the Harare-based Musasa Project, organized counseling and 
research programs aimed at stemming violence against women.  
Women's rights monitors have noted that every police station in 
Zimbabwe has handled at least one case of a woman killed by her 
husband.  In 1992, 4,437 official complaints of wife battering 
were filed.  The Government assigned to police precincts 
community relations liaison officers to counsel victims of 
battering and sexual assault.  Press reports indicated, 
however, that community relations officers sometimes attempted 
to dissuade women from pressing charges against their 
husbands.  The Women's Action Group urged police to improve 
their services by giving women who have been raped a full 
explanation of court procedures and possible defense attorney 
tactics before they appear in court.


The Government has a Ministry of Health and Child Welfare.  The 
Children's Protection and Adoption Act, as well as the 
Guardianship of Minors Act, the Infant Act, and the Deceased 
Person's Maintenance Act, were all enacted to protect the legal 
rights of minor children.  The criminal justice system has 
special provisions for dealing with juveniles.  Although there 
is no compulsory age for education, primary school attendance 
increased by more than 400 percent since independence.  
However, with the reintroduction of school fees in urban 
schools and rural secondary schools, enrollment has declined.  
In 1993 the Government began to take steps to combat the 
increasingly serious "street kids" problem.

The most recent police figures show that, during 1992, 964 
reports of rape were made to the police countrywide, the 
majority involving girls under 14.

According to press reports, the initiation rites still 
practiced by the small Remba ethnic group include infibulation, 
an extreme form of female genital mutilation.

     National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

Government services are provided on a nondiscriminatory basis, 
and the Government has sought to expand and improve the 
previously "whites only" infrastructure in urban areas to 
provide health and social services to all citizens.  In many 
rural areas, however, the neglect of the preindependence period 
continued to inhibit provision of minimal care.  In social 
terms, Zimbabwe remains a racially stratified country despite 
legal prohibitions against official discrimination.  Schools, 
churches, and clubs are all integrated.  Social interaction 
among racial groups is limited but increasing.

     People with Disabilities

The Disabled Persons Act passed in April specifically prohibits 
discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, 
admission to public places, or provision of services.  In 
practice, however, lack of resources for training and education 
severely hamper the ability of disabled people to compete for 
scarce jobs.  Although the Act stipulates that access for 
disabled persons should be provided to government buildings 
after a request for access facilities has been made to the 
Disabled Persons Board and the Board has inspected the building 
and recommended adjustments for disabled access, few government 
buildings now provide access to the disabled.

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

The Labor Relations Act (LRA) provides private sector workers 
freedom of association, the right to elect their own 
representatives, publish newsletters, and set programs and 
policies which reflect the political and economic interests of 
labor.  Workers are free to form or join unions without prior 
authorization.  The LRA allows for the existence of multiple 
unions per industry, provided that each is registered with the 
Ministry of Public Service, Labor, and Social Welfare 
(MPSLSW).  While the Government may deregister individual 
unions, Zimbabwe's High Court has ruled that the LRA does not 
give the Minister the power to suspend or deregister the 
national umbrella labor confederation, the Zimbabwe Congress of 
Trade Unions (ZCTU).  According to the LRA, any "interested 
person" may apply for the reconsideration of a trade union's 
registration.  According to the Act, such an application may be 
lodged if a union "no longer represents the interest or area 
for which it was registered" or "has failed to perform any of 
its functions" in terms of the Act.  After holding required 
hearings on the complaint, the registrar may vary, suspend, or 
rescind the union's registration.

Less than 20 percent of the salaried work force belongs to the 
35 unions which form the ZCTU.  Its officers are elected by the 
delegates of affiliated trade unions at congresses held every 5 
years.  While the ZCTU's formation was encouraged by the 
Government to be the labor arm of ZANU-PF, the Government no 
longer influences its actions.  Few of its founding members are 
still active in the trade union movement, and the ZCTU and the 
Government have increasingly clashed on economic and political 
issues.  Although the LRA allows for the formation of multiple 
national federations, none but the ZCTU exists.  Some unions, 
however, choose not to affiliate with the ZCTU.

Public servants and their associations (the Public Service 
Association (PSA), the Zimbabwe Teachers Association, and the 
Zimbabwe Nurses Association) are not covered by the provisions 
of the LRA (according to section 3 of the Act) since their 
conditions of employment are provided for under the 
Constitution.  They are thus constitutionally barred from 
forming unions, and their associations are likewise forbidden 
from affiliating with the ZCTU.

One year after the passage of the controversial Labor Relations 
Amendment Act (LRAA), the Government circulated copies of a new 
labor act drafted by the International Labor Organization 
(ILO).  The draft is intended to streamline provisions of the 
Labor Relations Act while extending its coverage to the public 

The LRA specifies that workers may establish worker committees, 
which exist side by side with unions, in each plant.  Worker 
committees must also be registered with the Ministry, which is 
free to refuse registration.  Trade union officials and others 
hold that the existence of workers' committees, which were 
strengthened by the 1992 amendments, dilutes the unions' 
authority.  Nonetheless, the ZCTU grew stronger in 1993, and 
the Government appeared less inclined to challenge it directly.

The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) 
has criticized "Zimbabwean labor legislation" for giving "wide 
scope to the authorities to declare that a given enterprise or 
industry constitutes an essential service, and then impose a 
ban on it."  Workers in sectors deemed "nonessential" have the 
right to strike provided the union advises the Government 2 
weeks in advance of its intention to do so.

Only a handful of short-lived strikes took place during 1993.  
A dispute over working conditions and management at Dalny Mine 
in April resulted in the deaths of four persons after police 
fired on a crowd of protestors.

The ZCTU and its officials are free to associate with 
international labor organizations and do so actively.  The ZCTU 
is affiliated with the ICFTU and the Southern African Trade 
Union Coordinating Council.  The African American Labor Center 
(AALC) maintains a regional office based in Harare.  The AALC's 
American representative was granted a 2-year temporary 
employment permit as he had requested.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

The LRA provides workers with the right to organize.  As 
originally enacted, the Act was silent on the right to bargain 
collectively.  However, 1992 amendments permit worker 
committees to perform functions normally reserved for trade 
unions, e.g., negotiating collective agreements and codes of 
conduct.  The worker committees, which are by law not 
organically part of the unions or the ZCTU, are empowered to 
negotiate with the management of a particular plant the 
conditions of labor in the workplace, except for wages.

The LRA prohibits antiunion discrimination by employers against 
union members.  Complaints of such discrimination are referred 
to labor relations officers and may subsequently be adjudicated 
by the Labor Relations Tribunal.  Such complaints are handled 
under the mechanism for resolving cases involving "unfair labor 
practices."  The determining authority may direct that workers 
fired due to antiunion discrimination be reinstated.

Wage negotiations take place on an industrywide basis between 
the relevant union and employer organization sitting in joint 
employment boards or councils.  These bodies submit their 
agreements to the Registrar in the Ministry for approval and 
the Government retains the power to veto agreements it believes 
would harm the economy.  As part of its economic recovery 
program, the Government announced in 1990 the commencement of 
free collective bargaining between workers and employers.  In 
1992 the Ministry endorsed the wage and salary recommendations 
of all 46 employment boards.  However, as noted above, the role 
of the worker committees impinges on traditional trade union 
bargaining rights.

In 1993 public and private sector workers criticized Minister 
of Public Service John Nkomo for calling for wage restraint in 
his annual wage policy statement.  Workers argued that the 
Minister's statement interfered with the collective bargaining 

When no trade union represents a specific sector, 
representatives of the organized workers, i.e., the 
professional associations, meet with the employers' association 
under the mediation of labor officers from the Ministry.  
Public sector wages are determined by the Salary Service 
Department of the Ministry, subject to the approval of the 
Public Service Commission (PSC).  Each year, representatives of 
the PSC (employers) and the PSA (employees) hold consultations 
on wages and benefits.  These consultations result in a 
recommendation which is forwarded to the Minister of Public 
Service, Labor, and Social Welfare.  The Minister is not 
required by law to accept the recommendation and, in fact, in 
both 1992 and 1993 granted wage increases significantly lower 
than the PSC/PSA recommendation.

So-called managerial employees are excluded from union 
membership and thus from the the collective bargaining 
process.  The presence of the ZCTU or specific national unions 
in individual shop-floor negotiations is not mandated.

The Labor Relations Amendment Act streamlined the procedure for 
adjudicating disputes by abolishing the hearing officer level 
and the Labor Relations Board  and strengthening the Labor 
Relations Tribunal (LRT).  Now, labor relations officers hear a 
dispute; their judgment may be appealed to regional labor 
relations officers; then the LRT may hear the case; and 
ultimately it may be appealed to the Supreme Court.  In 1993 
the Government filled long vacant positions on the LRT, but the 
LRT boards were not fully staffed and faced a substantial 
backlog at year's end.

There are no export processing zones.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

Compulsory labor is prohibited by law and is not practiced.

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

Zimbabwean law affords little protection to working children.  
There is no specific legal prohibition of child labor; the LRA 
only states that contracts of employment shall not be 
enforceable against any person under the age of 16 years.  The 
Government is working with the ILO on new child labor 
legislation.  While child labor is most prevalent in the 
agricultural sector, an increasing number of children can be 
found working in the informal sector.  In the manufacturing 
sector, minimum age regulations are generally enforced by the 
Ministry of Public Service, Labor, and Social Welfare.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

The maximum legal workweek is 54 hours, and the law prescribes 
a minimum of one 24-hour rest period per week.  Working 
conditions are regulated by the Government according to 
industry.  The Constitution empowers the PSC to set conditions 
of employment in the public sector.  Government regulations for 
each of the 22 industrial sectors specify minimum wages, hours, 
holidays, and required safety measures.  In recent years, as 
part of its effort to opt out of the wage bargaining system, 
the Government mandated wage parameters and specified minimum 
wage increases only for domestics and gardeners.  Due to an 
ineffective monitoring system, however, many such workers are 
remunerated below the minimum wage.  The minimum wage for 
domestics and gardeners is the de facto minimum wage for 
Zimbabwe.  As of November 15, it was set at $26 (Z$177) per 

The employer usually provides housing and food to workers.  On 
commercial farms, the employer may provide schooling for the 
workers' children.  The minimum wage is not sufficient to 
sustain a decent standard of living, and the lowest paid 
workers received a 1993 wage increase which covered less than 
one-half of the 28-percent inflation rate.  Minimum wage rates 
in those sectoral collective bargaining agreements for 1993 
which had been concluded by mid-December range from $26 (Z$177) 
to $71 (Z$484) in the manufacturing sector.  Labor relations 
officers from the Ministry are assigned to monitor developments 
in each plant to assure that government minimum wage policy and 
occupational health and safety regulations are observed.

Safety in the workplace is a major problem, due primarily to 
too few inspectors.  Furthermore, many of the basic legal 
protections do not apply to the vast majority of the farm, 
mine, and domestic workers.  Unions charge that there are no 
general standards for the work environment, such as threshold 
limits for manually lifted weights or conditions for pregnant 
workers.  Health and safety standards are determined only on an 
industry-specific basis.  The Government intervenes on a 
selected basis and sets standards by regulation in some 
industries.  In theory workers have a legal right to remove 
themselves from dangerous work situations without jeopardy to 
continued employment.

[end of document]


Department Seal

Return to 1993 Human Rights Practices report home page.
Return to DOSFAN home page.
This is an official U.S. Government source for information on the WWW. Inclusion of non-U.S. Government links does not imply endorsement of contents.