The UN is concerned by reports that Gukurahundi remains a source of ethnic tension.

The United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNOHCHR) has expressed worry over claims that Gukurahundi remains a source of ethnic conflict in Zimbabwe.

The crimes occurred in the 1980s, just after independence, when late former President Robert Mugabe sent a North Korean-trained fifth brigade to “deal” with supposed dissidents in the Midlands and Matabeleland regions. Approximately 20,000 individuals were slain.

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There have been demands for the government to bring offenders to justice, but Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi recently told a UN conference that authorities were hampered by Mugabe’s 1987 universal amnesty decree.

The Committee was disturbed by reports that the Gukurahundi atrocities, which resulted in the killing of around 20,000 Ndebele speakers in the 1980s, continue to be a source of ethnic tension, with many victims remaining traumatized and barred from participating in mourning and commemorative activities by State agents. It urged Zimbabwe to take measures to ensure that mourning and commemorative activities can be conducted without restrictions or threats. It also called on the State party to ensure that the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission fulfils its responsibilities to provide a platform for post-conflict public truth-telling.

The Committee also expressed concern that legislation to protect labour rights and prevent discrimination does not explicitly cover the informal sector and domestic work, which are dominated by Black women who face low wages, poor working conditions and racist, dehumanizing treatment. It requested that Zimbabwe amend its labour laws to explicitly cover the informal sector and domestic work, and take measures to address discrimination on the intersecting grounds of race, class and gender in all areas of employment.

United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner (UNOHCHR)

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