BY LORRAINE MUROMO
GOVERNMENT yesterday pledged to ensure safe working spaces for workers and to mitigate sexual harassment at work.
Public Service and Social Welfare minister Paul Mavima launched the Public Service Sexual Harassment Policy 2022 in Harare yesterday as the country is experiencing a spike in sexual harassment cases at workplaces.
This has resulted in the International Labour Organisation calling on corporates to eliminate sexual harassment and gender-based violence at work.
Mavima said the launch of the Sexual Harassment Policy was one of the products of reforms being spearheaded by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Second Republic through the Public Service Commission (PSC).
“For many years, sexual harassment in the workplace has been experienced, but there was no specific policy or guidelines to prevent this vice. Some perpetrators went unpunished and victims suffered in silence,” Mavima said.
“Let me thank the PSC for facilitating this policy to ensure there is a conducive public service workplace environment, free from sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse.”
The policy was crafted after stakeholder consultations and aims to protect the dignity of workers and enhance productivity.
“This policy is designed to ensure a safe and non-discriminatory work environment to combat sexual harassment in the public service, inform all members that if allegations of sexual harassment are levelled and substantiated against them, they are liable for such actions thereby encouraging fair and equitable treatment of all people in the workplace,” Mavima said, pledging government commitment to implement the policy and ensure there is no discrimination on the basis of sex.
He warned employers who do not take steps to prevent sexual harassment at work that they face major costs like decreased productivity, low morale, increased absenteeism and health care costs, as well as potential legal expenses.
PSC secretary Jonathan Wutawunashe said: “Public service workers operate within the context of cultural norms, but education is important. We have in all line ministries in the departments and agencies, gender and inclusivity focal persons. This has created jobs for gender focal persons to start working.”
United Nations Development Fund representative Eliman Jagne said: “This policy is the actualisation of the commitment that the Zimbabwean government has made towards the realisation of several industrial conventions and international commitments.”