Source: MPs in floor sitting demo over trafficking – NewZimbabwe 17/05/2016
MPs from across the political divide Tuesday abandoned their seats and tried to conduct the entire parliamentary session while seated on the floor to protest the continued enslavement of Zimbabwean human trafficking victims in Kuwait.
It was reported early this week that on top of dozens of victims so far brought home after parliament’s intervention, more were still stranded in the Middle East country.
A great number of trafficking victims, lured to the oil rich country on false promises of employment, are said to have been turned into working as sex slaves.Some, it is further said, were being overworked with disproportionate pays, if they did receive any wages at all.
But led by female MPs, legislators Tuesday vowed that until such time all the women were successfully brought home from Kuwait, they will continue conducting sessions sitting on the floor.
Female MPs felt women bore the brunt of modern day slavery and as such, they would all assume the unorthodox sitting arrangement because “we belong down there”.
MDC-T proportional representation MP, Thokozani Khuphe led the demo, which was later called off by National Assembly Speaker Jacob Mudenda as it violated Parliament’s standing rules and orders.
“Last week, a report was debated on the good work that you (Speaker) did by bringing back some of our girls from Kuwait and some of them are still not back home,” Khuphe said.
“So, it was resolved that until such time that all the girls are back home, women in this House will be sitting on the floor because it would appear as if this is where we belong as women. We belong down there.”
The female MPs were joined on the floor by their male counterparts until Mudenda asked the legislators to resume their seats to allow parliamentary business to begin.
“The chair does appreciate the sentiments being demonstrated by the sitting down honourable members, the majority of whom are our Honourable female Members,” Mudenda said.
“It is understandable that the feelings that they experience as mothers and husbands touches their hearts in terms of the ill treatments that our young female citizens have gone through, are going through not only in Kuwait but in other areas in the Middle East.
“Having recognised that and appreciating the deep feelings that this House, in particular the honourable Members of the female gender, I would appeal to the Honourable members that their current demonstration is recognised.
“However, for the smooth movement in the House, the sitting arrangement may create problems.
“Therefore, it may be against our standing Orders, Section 76 (1) and accordingly similar sentiments can be pronounced by way of debate.”
Meanwhile, Zanu PF MP for Goromonzi Beatrice Nyamupinga moved a motion calling on the inter-ministerial committee set up to investigate the human trafficking syndicate to speed up the process while ensuring urgent repatriation of those who still remained in Kuwait.
“Perpetrators of these heinous acts must face the full wrath of the law,” read the motion.
“The Ministry of Home Affairs must urgently conduct awareness programmes on human trafficking and educate the unsuspecting public, especially the youth about the dangers of human trafficking.”
The MPs further urged the Foreign Affairs Ministry to “urgently write to the Kuwait Foreign Affairs Ministry requesting Kuwait authorities to ban the issue of Article 20 Visas which allows Kuwait employers to hire Zimbabwean citizens under slave conditions”.
They further called on the Zimbabwean Embassy in Kuwait to be allocated “urgently sufficient financial resources to take care of the safe house, feeding and repatriation of the affected young ladies”.