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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 a large 
number of smaller parties.  However, they are poorly organized, 
poorly financed, and subject to periodic intimidation by the 
ruling party and government security forces.

The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) are responsible for 
maintaining law and order.  The Police Internal Security and 
Intelligence (PISI) Unit, a branch of the ZRP, and the Central 
Intelligence Organization (CIO) under the Ministry of State 
Security are responsible for internal and external security.  
The Zimbabwean National Army and Air Force also have 
intelligence staff structures, which perform a variety of 
intelligence and security functions.  Since 1991, the CIO and 
PISI have not been permitted to arrest or detain suspects in 
internal security cases.  The CIO and PISI were accused of 
human rights abuses in the past, including the use of torture, 
and still periodically harass opposition political parties.  
There were no new reports of other human rights abuses 
committed by the CIO or the PISI.  There was one instance of 
wrongful use of lethal fire in 1994, and there were credible 
reports that police sometimes beat suspected criminals.  A 
significant number of police officers were tried and punished 
for such abuses.  ZRP authorities cooperated with local human 
rights groups to incorporate a legal and human rights 
curriculum into regular police training.

Zimbabwe's economy has strong agricultural and mining sectors, 
a diversified manufacturing base, and a growing services 
sector.  The country is 4 years into its Economic Structural 
Adjustment Program (ESAP), which has led to a host of changes 
and dislocations, such as the removal of subsidies for staple 
foods, that have caused living standards to fall.  The 
unemployment rate remains above 45 percent, and both domestic 
and foreign investment are well below what is needed to spur 
solid economic growth and job creation.  The pace of Zimbabwe's 
land acquisition program, which was used in the past to punish 
political opponents of the Government, slowed in late 1994 as 
the Government concentrated on resettlement and land tenure 

The human rights climate in Zimbabwe generally improved, led by 
several Supreme Court rulings that bolstered the rights of 
women, free assembly, freedom of the press, and due process.  
The Government took some steps to address continuing problems 
of harsh prison conditions and sought to improve police 
performance through training and prosecuting officers 
responsible for abuses.  However, the Government took no action 
to investigate and prosecute those responsible for atrocities 
committed during the 1982-87 "Matabeleland Dissident Crisis."  
The ruling party continued to dominated the political arena, in 
part because opposition parties were unable to qualify for 
public funds disbursed under the 1992 Political Parties Finance 
Act.  President Mugabe's pardon in January of a CIO agent and a 
ruling party official convicted of the 1990 attempted murder of 
an opposition candidate for Parliament sent a negative signal 
that human rights abuses and violence committed on behalf of 
the ruling party would be tolerated.  Although the small 
independent press was increasingly open and critical of the 
Government, the more influential electronic media remained 
government controlled.  Domestic violence against women 
remained widespread, and traditional, often illegal, 
discrimination against women and the disabled continued.


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

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

There were no reports of political killings by government 
security forces, but the police killed one person in a shooting 
incident.  The ZRP launched its own investigations of 
approximately 10 lethal fire incidents in 1993.  The Government 
prosecuted or disciplined well over a third of police officers 
involved in shooting incidents.

The inquest into the 1990 death in police custody of 
15-year-old Happy Dhlakama was inconclusive.  The presiding 
magistrate ruled that Dhlakama had been beaten by police 
special constables but was unable to determine whether or not 
he had died of his injuries.  The inquest revealed problems 
with the handling of medical treatment and records in 
questionable deaths.  The Catholic Commission for Justice and 
Peace (CCJP) is now pursuing compensation for Dhlakama's family 
in civil court.

The Government refused to reopen investigations of the 1988 
death of Captain Edwin Nyela and the 1991 death of Lieutenant 
Shepard Chisango, despite continued calls from Zimbabwean and 
international human rights groups for inquests.  The 
Government's handling of these cases will likely inhibit 
military officers from denouncing corruption in the armed 
forces in the future.

There was no progress in the Simplicius Chihambakwe 
Commission's investigation into atrocities committed during the 
1982-87 Matabeleland Crisis.  The information collected in 2 
days of interviews in mid-1993 was reportedly so damaging that 
the investigation was indefinitely suspended.  Human rights 
groups continued to collect information on reports of deaths 
and disappearances, but many relatives of the victims are too 
frightened to come forward with information.  However, the 
newly enacted Births and Deaths Registration Amendment Act of 
1994 will make it easier for relatives of the victims of the 
Matabeland Crisis to obtain relatives' death certificates and 
thereby enroll children in school, obtain identity and travel 
documents for children, and settle estates.

Despite President Mugabe's 1992 assertion that no compensation 
would be paid to victims of the Matabeleland Crisis because 
atrocities were committed "during a state of war," two cases in 
1994 set an important precedent for victims.  In May the 
Ministry of Home Affairs and the ZRP agreed to pay compensation 
to the widow of Gibson Sibanda, whom police arrested and later 
murdered for political reasons in 1985.  In late 1993, the 
Government admitted liability for the wrongful arrest and loss 
of property and income stemming from Lloyd Kudzai's detention 
by the CIO from 1983-1987.  Kudzai's High Court testimony 
included allegations of torture and ill-treatment of prisoners 
at Ross Camp in Bulawayo.

The CCJP believes that the mass graves discovered at Antelope 
Mine near Kezi in 1992 contained the remains of victims of 
extrajudicial killings committed by the army between 1983 and 
85.  The CCJP has called for a full-scale investigation.  
However, the Government has taken no action to investigate the 
site and also failed to respond to the Catholic Bishop of 
Bulawayo's request that a "service of reconciliation" be held 
at the mine to commemorate the dead.

     b.  Disappearance

There were no reported disappearances in 1994.  The case of 
Rashiwe Guzha, who disappeared in 1990, has not been 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

There were no credible reports of torture in 1994.  The 
Government has not actively pursued allegations that torture 
was used in the past and did not prosecute CIO or ZRP officials 
for such abuses in 1994.  Despite improved ZRP training, the 
beating of criminal suspects and detainees by the ZRP remained 
a problem in 1994, particularly among low-ranking police and 
poorly trained parapolice called special constables.

Prison conditions have not improved since the CCJP issued its 
1993 report describing extreme overcrowding, shortages of 
clothing, and poor sanitary conditions.  Over 22,000 prisoners 
are incarcerated in a prison system built to accommodate 
16,000.  In some prisons, prisoners are allowed about one-half 
square meter per person.  Overcrowding and poor sanitation 
aggravated outbreaks of cholera, diarrhea, and AIDS-related 
illnesses.  According to the Zimbabwean Prison Service, an 
average of 25 prisoners a month died in custody, 18 from 
AIDS-related illnesses.  (The HIV-positive rate of the general 
Zimbabwean population is roughly 10 percent; the rate is likely 
much higher in the prison population, most of whom are in the 
most affected 19- to 49-year-old-age bracket.)  The Supreme 
Court ruled in August that restrictions limiting prisoners to 
one letter per month were excessive.

In response to the problems, the Ministry of Justice, Legal and 
Parliamentary Affairs and the Zimbabwean Prison Service, in 
conjunction with the Legal Resources Foundation (LRF), a human 
rights group that focuses on legal rights, have undertaken a 
program in human rights training for prison service employees 
in the hopes of improving their treatment of prisoners.  Prison 
Service officials who violate prison rules and mistreat 
prisoners are routinely punished.

     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.  Although a 
preliminary hearing is required before a magistrate within 48 
hours (or 96 hours over a weekend), the law is often 
disregarded if a person does not have legal representation.  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 rule.  High Court judges grant bail 

The Government may still apply a wide range of legal powers 
under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) or the Law and Order 
(Maintenance) Act (LOMA).  Originally promulgated 30 years ago 
and widely used in the past to prosecute political opponents of 
the government in power, the LOMA gives extensive powers to the 
police, the Minister of Home Affairs, and the President to 
address political and security crimes that are not clearly 
defined.  The Government has not invoked the LOMA frequently, 
fearing that its oppressive provisions might be declared 
unconstitutional.  However, in February several leaders of the 
telecommunications union strike were detained briefly under the 

Pretrial detainees spend an average of 3 months in prison 
before their trials because of a critical shortage of 
magistrates and court interpreters.  Zimbabwean law lacks 
provisions to allow judges to take time spent in pretrial 
detention into account in sentencing.  Overall, 20 percent of 
detainees in Zimbabwean jails in 1994 had not yet been tried, 
down from 22 percent in 1993.  In August the Supreme Court 
ordered a detainee's release after ruling that long pretrial 
incarceration violated his right to a speedy trial.  However, 
Daniel Machabe, whose murder trial has been delayed for more 
than 7 years, remained in custody.  To reduce pretrial 
detention, the Government appointed additional High Court 
judges and expanded the magistrates courts.

The Government held no political detainees at year's end.  
Exile is not used as a means of political control.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

The Customary Law and Local Courts Act of 1990 created a 
unitary court system, consisting of headmen's courts, chiefs' 
courts, magistrates' courts, the High Court, and the Supreme 
Court.  With this restructuring, civil customary law cases may 
be heard at all levels of the judiciary, including the Supreme 
Court.  The reactivation of chiefs' and headmen's courts made 
the legal system much more accessible to people in remote areas 
who had had little contact with the formal court system.  The 
Government implemented training programs for presiding officers 
in chiefs' and headmens' courts to help eliminate traditional 
but illegal practices such as the custom of forcing a widow to 
marry her late husband's brother.

Zimbabwe's judiciary has a well-deserved reputation for 
independence.  Judges serve life terms and can be removed from 
the bench only for gross misconduct.  They are not discharged 
or transferred for political reasons.  However, magistrates, 
who are part of the civil service rather than the judiciary, 
hear the vast majority of cases in Zimbabwe and are sometimes 
subject to political pressure.

The Government generally abides by court decisions even when it 
is strongly opposed to the rulings.  However, in the past, the 
Government passed a series of constitutional amendments which 
undermined major Supreme Court 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 inhuman punishment; the Government also 
asserted that death by hanging was not cruel and inhuman, in 
anticipation of a CCJP test case challenging hanging as a 
method of execution.  Similarly, Amendment 13, passed just 
weeks after the Supreme Court ruled that long incarceration on 
death row constituted cruel and inhuman punishment, declared 
that neither treatment of prisoners nor delays in carrying out 
sentences entitled prisoners to a stay or remission of sentence 
(see Section 1.c.).

The Magistrates Court found the CIO and ZANU-PF officers who 
shot opposition party candidate Patrick Kombayi during the 1990 
campaign guilty of attempted murder.  President Mugabe granted 
the two a remission of sentence within 48 hours of the Supreme 
Court's ruling upholding their conviction.  The pardon sent a 
negative signal to the Zimbabwean public that abuses on behalf 
of the ruling party would be tolerated, as did the subsequent 
appointment of one of the two men to the ZANU-PF Central 
Committee.  Further investigations of the part Vice President 
Simon Muzenda's driver and bodyguard may have had in the 
shooting have not been carried out.

Every defendant has the right to a lawyer of his or her 
choosing.  However, well over 90 percent of defendants in 
magistrates courts go unrepresented.  In criminal cases an 
indigent may apply to have the Government supply an attorney, 
but this type of representation is rarely applied for and 
rarely granted.  In capital cases the Government will provide 
an attorney for all defendants unable to afford one.  However, 
human rights groups have highlighted the poor quality of some 
of the representation provided to indigents, particularly in 
capital cases.  Litigants in civil cases can request legal 
assistance from the LRF or the Ministry of Justice's Citizens 
Advice Bureau.  All litigants are represented in the High Court.

The Supreme Court has instructed magistrates to ensure that 
unrepresented defendants fully understand their rights and to 
weigh any 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 legal system does 
not discriminate against women or minorities.

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

The Constitution protects citizens from arbitrary search or 
entry, and since 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 

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

The Act has been implemented largely along racial lines; the 
Government stated that black-owned commercial farms would not 
be subject to designation.  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 home farm for acquisition, highlighted in the 1993 
Human Rights Report as an example of the Land Acquisition Act's 
use as a political tool, has been revoked.  However, opposition 
party leader Ndabaningi Sithole is still fighting the 
Government's acquisition of his Churu farm.  After the 
Government's late 1993 attempt to evict more than 2,500 
families living on the property, several thousand Churu farm 
residents were resettled on a holding farm where several died 
as the result of abysmal sanitary conditions.  The situation at 
Churu farm remained at a standoff until October 1994, when the 
ZRP evicted the remaining 1,600 residents and resettled them at 
a camp formerly used by Mozambican refugees.

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."

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.  The Zimbabwe Inter-Africa News Agency (ZIANA 
Wire Service) is controlled by the Ministry of Information.  
The Government influences mainstream media through indirect 
ownership, editorial appointments, directives to editors, and 
removal of wayward editors.  There is no real opposition press, 
but a small independent press, consisting primarily of a daily 
that ceased publication for financial reasons on December 25, 
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, mostly monthlies, with circulations under 
3,000.  The independent press has been increasingly critical of 
the Government and the ruling party.  Despite its harsh public 
attacks on many of the independent publications, the Government 
has taken no overt punitive measures against them.

There is a high degree of self-censorship in both the 
government-influenced and independent press, aggravated by 
antidefamation laws which make no distinction between public 
and private persons and an extremely broad OSA.  In February 
the authorities brought a Daily Gazette reporter and his editor 
to court and questioned them for alleged contravention of the 
OSA after the Gazette published a story about income tax 
evasion by state-owned enterprises.  The Act, based on the 
first British OSA, makes it a crime to divulge "any information 
acquired in the course of official duties."

In March a High Court judge ruled that a reporter may keep his 
sources confidential if he uncovers the commission of a crime 
or the existence of corruption because revelation of sources 
would make future informants reluctant to come forward and 
would therefore be detrimental to the public interest.

Radio and television are entirely government owned and 
controlled.  The Broadcasting Act gives the Zimbabwe Broadcast 
Corporation monopoly status.  The Government has repeatedly 
refused to license independent radio and television stations.  
Journalists report that ZANU-PF Secretary for Information (and 
Foreign Minister) Nathan Shamuyarira is often involved in 
determining what news is broadcast.  Opposition party rallies 
and press conferences receive only limited television or radio 

The University of Zimbabwe Amendment Act and the National 
Council for Higher Education Act greatly restrict the 
independence of universities, making them subject to government 
influence and extending the disciplinary powers of the 
university authorities against staff and students, thus 
curtailing academic freedom.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The Constitution provides for the right of assembly and 
association for political and nonpolitical organizations, 
including a broad spectrum of economic, social, professional, 
and recreational activities.

Organizations are generally free of governmental interference 
as long as their activities are viewed as nonpolitical.  In 
March, as part of the trial of six trade unionists arrested 
under the LOMA for participating in a prohibited demonstration 
in June 1992, the Supreme Court ruled that Section 6 of the 
LOMA (requiring police authorization for demonstrations) was 
unconstitutional because it interfered with the right to free 
speech.  There are many active unions, political parties, and 
human rights organizations.  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 (see 
Section 3).

     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.

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

There were no reports of restrictions on domestic or 
international travel in 1994.  Zimbabwean citizens do not have 
automatic right of return.

In June the Supreme Court ruled that the practice of allowing 
only Zimbabwean men, not women, to confer citizenship or 
permanent residence status on their spouses and children was 
discriminatory.  However, at year's end, the Immigration 
Service had not received implementing regulations to institute 
the change.  The new Zimbabwean Citizenship and Immigration 
bill, presented to Parliament in mid-1994 but not yet law, 
tightens prohibitions against dual citizenship and reduces the 
period a person can be out of the country without losing his 
Zimbabwean citizenship from 7 to 5 years.  Zimbabwean human 
rights groups are concerned that these provisions will affect 
white Zimbabweans, many of whom hold dual citizenship, more 
directly than black Zimbabweans and will interfere with 
citizens' right of return.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees 
(UNHCR), in 1994 the registered refugee population went from 
over 100,000 to approximately 750, mostly Mozambicans.  Prior 
to Mozambique's elections, the Government and the UNHCR 
repatriated nearly 5,000 refugees per week.  The Government 
permitted UNHCR officials unrestricted access to refugee 
camps.  There were no reported instances of forced repatriation 
to a country where a refugee fears persecution.

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 last general election in 
March 1990, which was marked by intimidation by the security 
forces, lopsided media coverage, inaccuracies in the voters' 
rolls and voting irregularities in some constituencies, called 
into question the ability of citizens to exercise that right.  
The ruling party captured 117 of the 120 seats in those 
elections.  The 10 chiefs who sit as M.P.'s are elected by 
their peers.  The President has the power further to appoint 8 
provincial governors, who sit as M.P.'s, and 12 nonconstituency 
M.P.'s; as a result, there is no effective parliamentary 

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.

There are many small political parties.  However, the Political 
Parties Finance Act inhibits their growth by providing 
government funding only to those parties that have more than 15 
parliamentary seats, effectively giving all public funding to 
the ruling party.  The 1994-95 budget provided $4.2 million for 

The net result of several constitutional amendments has been to 
consolidate the power of the executive branch and limit the 
M.P.s' ability to go against the party line.  However, there 
was a small group of backbenchers in Parliament who vigorously 
confronted the Government on a number of issues ranging from 
corruption to government spending.

The Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC) ruled that both the 
July and December parliamentary by-elections were free and 
fair.  However, the July by-elections were marred by various 
unfair practices.  There were credible reports that CIO agents 
intimidated would-be voters in Gwanda North by warning that the 
infamous "Fifth Brigade" (which left a trail of murder and 
torture there from 1982 to 1987) would return if they did not 
vote for ZANU-PF.  Rural dwellers reported that government 
agents warned that they would not be eligible to receive food 
aid if they supported opposition candidates.  There were 
credible reports that people in several districts in Manicaland 
were denied food aid unless they could prove that they had 
registered to vote, or, in at least one case, could produce a 
ZANU-PF card.

The CIO occasionally harassed and threatened opposition party 
members.  In May ZANU-PF Youth League and Women's League 
supporters attacked the site of a Zimbabwe Unity Movement (ZUM) 
rally, burned a trailer, and beat up 10 ZUM supporters guarding 
the rally ground.  The ruling party provided transportation for 
the perpetrators to the rally site.  After ZANU-PF supporters 
interfered in a ZANU-Ndonga rally in June, supporters of both 
groups hurled stones and bottles at each other, and a ZANU-PF 
member was wounded by an arrow.  In July several opposition 
party leaders called on their supporters to arm themselves.  
Zimbabwean human rights groups expressed concern that President 
Mugabe's call for a youth league "door-to-door campaign" would 
lead to a repeat of 1985 campaign violence when gangs of youths 
went from house to house demanding that residents produce their 
party cards.  In several incidents in the Midlands and 
Masvingo, the police fined individuals who threatened 

In preparation for 1995 parliamentary elections, the Registrar 
General's office continued to update the voter rolls which were 
"in a shambles," according to the Ministry of Home Affairs.  
Members of Parliament and opposition party members complained 
that copies of the voter rolls were not made available to 
them.  In early 1994, the Registrar General refused to allow 
opposition parties to distribute voter registration forms at 
their meetings, saying voters needed to come individually to 
the Registrar General's office or other registration points to 
register.  Opposition parties and human rights groups also 
complained that some of the ESC's five members, tasked with 
overseeing the conduct of the campaign and the general 
election, have not renounced their ties to ZANU-PF.  The ESC 
currently lacks the institutional capacity to supervise the 
campaign or oversee Zimbabwe's more than 2,000 polling 
stations.  The CCJP noted that during the 1990 elections the 
ESC acted promptly to deal with irregularities.

Women participate in politics without legal restriction.  
However, Zimbabwean women's groups assert that husbands, 
particularly in rural areas,  commonly force their wives to 
vote for their candidates.  One female Minister of State and 
three female deputy ministers (none of whom actually sits in 
the Cabinet) serve at the cabinet level, but of the 150 M.P.'s, 
only 17 are women.  In addition, some critics charge that the 
existence of women's wings in political parties, notably the 
ruling party, marginalizes women from mainstream political 

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

Although the Government permits local civic and human rights 
groups to operate in Zimbabwe, it monitors their activities 
closely, in particular the CCJP and ZIMRIGHTS.  Other groups 
that promote human rights include the LRF, the Southern African 
Federation of the Disabled, and the Southern African Human 
Rights Foundation.

The Government permits the International Committee of the Red 
Cross (ICRC) to operate a regional office in Harare, and it 
cooperates with the UNHCR and the ICRC to assist Mozambican, 
South African, and other refugees.  The Government does not 
discourage representatives from international human rights 
groups from visiting Zimbabwe.

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

The Constitution provides that "every person in Zimbabwe" is 
entitled to fundamental rights whatever his race, tribe, place 
of origin, political opinions, color, creed, or sex.  However, 
the Constitution's section on discrimination does not 
specifically refer to the rights of women.


Since independence the Government has enacted major laws aimed 
at enhancing women's rights and countering certain traditional 
practices that discriminate against women.  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.  However, while unmarried women may 
own property in their own names, married women (married under 
customary not general law) are not allowed to own property 
jointly with their husbands.  In an August speech, President 
Mugabe labeled joint ownership of property "un-African."  
Inheritance laws remain unfavorable to widows, especially urban 
black women who were married under customary law.  Although the 
Government has circulated a draft inheritance law that would 
address the issue of unfair and unequal distribution of 
inherited assets, as of year's end no legislative action had 
been taken on the draft.  Divorce and maintenance laws are more 
favorable toward women, but women generally lack awareness of 
their rights under the law.

Many women remain disadvantaged in Zimbabwean society.  
Illiteracy, economic dependency, and prevailing social norms 
prevent rural women in particular from combating societal 
discrimination.  Despite legal prohibitions, women are still 
vulnerable to entrenched customary practices.  Among these 
persistent practices are "kuzvarira," the practice of pledging 
a young woman to marriage with a partner not of her choosing; 
"nhaka," 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.  In August 
Parliament criminalized the common practice of refusing to bury 
a woman until lobola is paid, equating the crime to extortion.  
Many doctors and hospitals routinely require the husband's 
consent for women seeking long-term contraception.

Although labor legislation prohibits discrimination in 
employment on the basis of gender, women are concentrated in 
the lower echelons of the work force and commonly face sexual 
harassment in the workplace.

Domestic violence against women, especially wife beating, is 
common and crosses all racial and economic lines in Zimbabwe.  
Women's groups 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 Musasa Project, which specializes in research 
and counseling on domestic violence, said cultural attitudes 
are changing, and that wife beating is increasingly considered 
socially unacceptable.

There were 964 reports of rape (the majority involving girls 
under 14) in 1992, the last year for which police statistics 
are available.

Several active women's rights groups in Zimbabwe, including 
Women in Law in Southern Africa, the Musasa Project, Women in 
Law and Development, and the Women's Action Group, concentrate 
on improving women's knowledge of their legal rights, economic 
empowerment of women, and combating domestic violence.


The Government enacted the Children's Protection and Adoption 
Act, the Guardianship of Minors Act, and the Deceased Person's 
Maintenance Act, to protect the legal rights of minor 
children.  The criminal justice system has special provisions 
for dealing with juveniles, although there is no juvenile 
court.  While there is no compulsory education, Zimbabwe has 
made considerable progress in providing education for girls, 
and overall primary school attendance has 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.  Incest, long taboo 
in Zimbabwean society, is increasing.  Child abuse, as such, 
does not appear to be widespread, although there are increasing 
reports of infanticide and child abandonment.

Female genital mutilation (FGM) has been condemned by 
international health experts as damaging to both physical and 
psychological health, and it is rarely performed in Zimbabwe.  
However, according to press reports these initiation rites are 
still practiced on young girls by the small Remba ethnic group 
and include infibulation, the most extreme form of FGM.

     National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

The Shona ethnic group comprises 77 percent of the population, 
Ndebele 14 percent, Kalanga 5 percent, whites 1 percent, and 
other ethnic groups 3 percent.  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.  Nevertheless, in social terms, 
Zimbabwe remains a racially stratified country despite legal 
prohibitions against official discrimination.  While schools 
and churches are all integrated, social interaction among 
racial groups is still limited.  In 1994 Ndebele leaders 
complained that Matabeleland North and South have not received 
an adequate share of national development resources for tribal 
reasons.  In addition, the disproportionate number of 
Shona-speaking teachers and headmasters in Matabeleland schools 
remained a sensitive issue.

     People with Disabilities

The Disabled Persons Act of 1992 specifically prohibits 
discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, 
admission to public places, or provision of services and is 
viewed by advocates of the disabled as model legislation.  In 
practice, however, the lack of resources for training and 
education severely hampers the ability of disabled people to 
compete for scarce jobs.  Although the Act stipulates that 
access for disabled persons should be provided in government 
buildings, few government buildings have been adjusted for the 
disabled.  Disabled people face particularly harsh customary 
discrimination.  According to traditional belief, people with 
disabilities are considered bewitched and reports of 
handicapped children being hidden when visitors arrive are 
common.  A disability board was appointed by President Mugabe 
in 1992 to spearhead equitable distribution of resources to the 
disabled but met only twice before the Ministry of Public 
Service, Labor and Social Welfare cut off its funding.

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).

Less than 20 percent of the salaried work force belongs to the 
35 unions that form the ZCTU.  ZCTU officers are elected by the 
delegates of affiliated trade unions at congresses held every 5 
years.  While the Government encouraged the ZCTU's formation, 
anticipating that it would form the labor arm of ZANU-PF, it no 
longer directly influences ZCTU actions.  The Government and 
the ZCTU clash on political and economic issues with increasing 
frequency as workers feel the effects of the economic 
structural adjustment program.  Although the LRA allows for the 
formation of multiple national federations, none but the ZCTU 
exists.  Almost all unions are affiliated with the ZCTU; some 
affiliates, due to internal differences, have withheld their 
membership fees and are considered in bad standing.

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.

However, all three organizations have signed memorandums of 
understanding with the ZCTU to coordinate on areas of mutual 
interest, which include reform of the LRA to include the public 
sector.  After the passage of the Labor Relations Amendment Act 
(LRAA) in 1992, 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 LRA while 
extending its coverage to the public sector.  After the third 
draft, however, the Government shelved any further movement on 
joining the public and private sectors under one LRA.

The LRA specifies that workers may establish independent worker 
committees, which exist side by side with unions, in each 
plant.  Worker committees must also be registered with the 
MPSLSW, which is free to refuse registration.  Trade union 
officials and others hold that the existence of worker 
committees, which were strengthened by the 1992 amendments, 
dilutes union authority.  Nonetheless, the ZCTU grew stronger 
in 1994 as it responded to the formation of these committees by 
increasing its organizational efforts on the shop floor.  This 
strengthened its hand in the 1994 collective bargaining cycle, 
and the Government has appeared less inclined to challenge its 
authority directly.

The International Conference 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 (though in practice 
this administrative requirement is rarely met).

More strikes and work actions occurred in 1994 than in any 
other year since independence.

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 
maintains a regional office based in Harare.

     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.

Wage negotiations take place on an industry-wide basis between 
the relevant union and employer organizations sitting on joint 
employment boards or councils.  These bodies submit their 
agreements to the registrar in the MPSLSW for approval.  The 
Government retains the power to veto agreements it believes 
would harm the economy.  However, it did not directly involve 
itself in labor negotiations unless requested to do so by one 
of the two parties.

When no trade union represents a specific sector, 
representatives of the organized workers, i.e., the 
professional associations, meet with the employer associations, 
under the mediation of labor officers from the MPSLSW.  Public 
sector wages are determined by the Salary Service Department of 
the MPSLSW, 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 MPSLSW.  The Minister is not required 
by law to accept the recommendation and, in fact, in both 1993 
and 1994 granted wage increases significantly lower than 
PSC/PSA recommendations.

Employees designated as being in managerial positions are 
excluded from union membership and thus from the collective 
bargaining process.  The presence of the ZCTU or specific 
national unions in individual shop floor negotiations is not 

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 (LRT).  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 should be 
reinstated, though this has yet to be tested in practice.

The LRAA streamlined the procedure for adjudicating disputes by 
strengthening the LRT.  Now, labor relations officers hear a 
dispute; their decision may be appealed to regional labor 
relations officers, at which point the LRT may hear the case.  
Ultimately, it may be appealed to the Supreme Court.  In 1993 
the Government filled long vacant positions on the LRT, but at 
present the LRT boards are still not fully staffed and face a 
substantial backlog.

Parliament passed the Export Processing Zones Act in October.  
The Act provides that the LRA shall not apply to workers in 
export processing zones.  The ZCTU protested this provision to 
President Mugabe, who promised to investigate.  At year's end, 
no export processing zones had been established.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

Compulsory labor is prohibited by law, and there are no reports 
that it is 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.  While 
child labor is most prevalent in the agricultural sector, an 
increasing number of children can be found working in the urban 
informal sector.  There have also been reports of children 
mining chromium, tin, or gold, either for independent operators 
or through subcontractors.  In the manufacturing sector, 
minimum age requirements are generally enforced by the MPSLSW.  
Recent ILO investigations to review progress in this area 
indicated that these conditions still hold true.

     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 monthly wage for domestics and gardeners of $25 
(Z$202.41) is the de facto minimum wage for Zimbabwe.  The 
employer often provides housing and food to workers or 
allowances for such.  On commercial farms, the employer may 
provide schooling for workers' children.  The minimum wage is 
not sufficient to sustain a decent standard of living, and 
workers in those sectors covered under collective bargaining 
agreements received 1994 wage increases averaging only 
two-thirds of the 25-percent inflation rate.  Minimum monthly 
wage rates for 1994 ranged from $30 (Z$241.50) in the 
agricultural sector to $62 to 75 (Z$500 - Z$600) in the various 
manufacturing sectors.  In theory, labor relations officers 
from the MPSLSW 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 continuing problem, exacerbated by 
an inadequate number of government safety inspectors.  
Furthermore, many of the basic legal protections do not apply 
to the vast majority of 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 often 
seemingly in response to the most recent accident) 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;  in 
practice, they risk the loss of their livelihood.


[end of document]


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