Migrants challenges in Zimbabwe call for Parliament to act

Kadoma -Speaker of the Zimbabwe National Assembly, Advocate Jacob Francis Mudenda said migration poses both benefits and challenges to society hence the need for Parliament to ensure that laws and policies are in place to better manage the phenomenon.

He made the remarks at the capacity building workshop for Members of Parliament from the Portfolio Committee on Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services and the Thematic Committee on Human Rights. The three-day workshop attended by 40 Parliamentarians contributed towards  migrant – centred, gender sensitive, human rights based and constitutionally grounded governance framework in Zimbabwe.

Advocate Mudenda said the migrants’ journey is sometimes “littered” with thorny challenges. To this end to mitigate its impacts, Parliamentarians as policy makers have a grave responsibility of putting in place measures and policies which address the root causes of migration.

He also noted the benefits of migration, “Migration can contribute to poverty reduction and foster broader economic and social development in countries of origin. It has been noted that migration can lead to transfer of skills, knowledge and technology.”

The Speaker of the National Assembly noted that while migrants are making significant economic contributions to the country, there are some policy gaps especially on the Immigration Act,  Refugee Act, Trafficking in Persons Act, Citizenship Act, the Birth and Death Registration Act  which need Parliament attention in line with international best practices, international protocols and the Republic of Zimbabwe’s Constitution.

Speaking at the same occasion, United Nations Resident Coordinator for Zimbabwe, Maria Do Valle Ribeiro said political solutions to migration must respect basic international human rights standards. “Parliament should seek consultative ways to advocate for the ratification of international protocols and conventions that Zimbabwe has not ratified and domesticated.”

 Maria Do Valle Ribeiro underscored the fact that migration is transformative both for those who move and for the places and economies of source and destination, at the same time promoting the sustainable development agenda.

“Within the SDGs, migration is recognised as a “multidimensional reality” that is of major relevance for the development of countries of origin, transit and destination. Incorporating the potentially social transformative nature of migration into policy and planning for sustainable development would better reflect the reality of a mobile world. A more encompassing view of migration would, we argue, lead to more appropriate targets and indicators for the SDGs.”

She assured Parliament of UN support, “I can assure you that the UN Country Team will support all Parliamentary initiatives that will work towards achieving SDG 10.7 – facilitate orderly, safe, and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies.”

The Chief of Mission for the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Mario Lito Malanca said migration is desirable if well managed:

 “Migration is here to stay so rather than seeing migration as a problem to be solved, we must regard it as a human reality to be managed. As we face the continuation of simultaneous, unprecedented and complex emergencies, people will continue to flee and resort to migration as a coping mechanism. To face the challenges associated with such scenarios, we need to actively tackle the root causes and promote and abide by commonly shared values that will address the risks to such mobility.”

Ambassador Timo Olkkonen, the Head of the European Union Delegation to Zimbabwe revealed that the European Union supported capacity strengthening of the Zimbabwe Parliament through the project “Promoting Migration Governance in Zimbabwe” in cooperation with IOM. The project promotes the establishment of a migrant-centred, gender-sensitive, rights-based and  development-oriented governance framework in Zimbabwe.

He said the EU funded migration program fits in a broader approach to governance and institutional strengthening agreed with Zimbabwe when it signed the National Indicative plan which centres on the implementation of the 2013 Constitution.

In a Communique shared after the workshop, Members of Parliament agreed on recommendations for comprehensive migration legislation review. This includes capacity building and sensitization programs for all legislators on issues relating to trafficking in persons, statelessness and smuggling of persons among others. The Communique emphasized the need by Parliament to undertake an Institutional Assessment relating to among other issues, the performance and functions of various agencies and institutions dealing with refugees, migration and trafficking in persons including situational assessments of migrants in prisons and refugee camp in Zimbabwe and produce reports for tabling in Parliament. To promote awareness of international treaties by the Parliament, the Communique stated that a treaty digest will be developed to explain  treaties that are ratified and those yet to be ratified on migration, trafficking and smuggling of persons, refugees and statelessness for use by legislators in the amendment and passage of migration governance laws.  

For more information please contact Varaidzo Mudombi at IOM Zimbabwe – telephone +263242704285 email: vmudombi@iom.int