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US downgrades Zim’s human trafficking efforts

By Staff Writer

The 2024 annual report on human trafficking compiled by the U.S. State Department has downgraded Zimbabwe’s efforts to fight the scourge, finding that the country’s government “does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking,” though it’s “making significant” endeavors.

Launched by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington D.C. late Monday, the report says while, “Zimbabwe formally launched its 2023-2028 Trafficking in Persons National Plan of Action and continued awareness-raising campaigns, in coordination with NGOs,… the government did not demonstrate overall increasing efforts compared with the previous reporting period,” leading to a country downgrade from Tier 2 to Tier 2 Watch List, a bracket of countries that are not taking proportional concrete actions against human trafficking.

Syndicates operating in South Africa recruit undocumented Zimbabwean migrants with promises of legitimate employment in mining and force them into labor in the illegal mining industry.

The report also finds that, “Due to economic conditions, undocumented Zimbabwean women and children increasingly travel to South Africa for employment, where their lack of legal status increases their vulnerability to traffickers. Facilitators recruit and transport Zimbabwean migrants to South Africa, where international criminal syndicates subject them to sex trafficking in Musina, Pretoria, Johannesburg, and Durban.”

It also says, “Internal trafficking is prevalent and underreported. Traffickers exploit Zimbabwean adults and children in sex trafficking and forced labor, including in cattle herding, domestic service, and mining, including in the gold and diamond sectors.”

Zimbabwean women, the report adds, have been trafficked and exploited in domestic servitude, forced labor, and sex trafficking in Iraq, Kenya, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and Uganda, often under the guise of legitimate employment.

In South Africa, traffickers exploit Zimbabweans in forced labor in agriculture, construction, factories, mines, information technology, domestic work, and hospitality businesses.”

Zimbabwean government officials were unreachable for comment.

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