Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) in partnership with the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) have called upon the government to uphold the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGP).
The two organisations said that they are outraged by the systematic abuse of human rights by transnational corporations who are dispossessing the citizens of their land and natural resources and subjecting workers to slave-like working conditions.
Following the outrage, the organisations called upon the government to make a formal commitment to implement the UNGP’s by developing and adopting a National Action Plan (NAP) on business and human rights.
The proposed main areas for the NAP include mining, land rights, transparency and accountability; and also access to judicial and non-judicial remedies.
Besides implementing the UNGP’s NAP, ZELA and ZHRC also called upon the government to take deliberate steps to uphold its mandate to protect communities against human rights abuses by all actors in society, including businesses.
“This means States must prevent, investigate, punish and redress human rights abuses that take place in domestic business operations;” the call says.
The government must also urgently review, enact and enforce laws that require businesses to respect human rights; creating a regulatory environment that facilitates business respect for human rights; and providing guidance to companies on their responsibilities according to the call.
ZELA, ZHRC and thirty other organisations who made the call require that all state-owned businesses lead in efforts to ensure that their activities do not negatively impact communities and to provide reparations for victims of their business practices.
The organisations also request that the process of developing the NAP be fully inclusive to cover the interests of all stakeholders including indigenous communities living far from the main cities.
The organisations also say that women should “be heavily engaged in the process of developing the NAP to ensure that their interests are well articulated and considered.”
“If the government does not initiate the process of developing a NAP on business and human rights, we shall engage in a bottom-up approach to ensure that the country develops and adopts a NAP before 2020,” ZELA and ZHRC say.