HARARE, May 21– The Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Bil has through Zimbabwe’s National Assembly despite resistance from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) MPs who wanted it taken for public hearings before its passage.

The Bill seeks to domesticate the protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons, especially of women and children, supplementing the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime. Zimbabwe acceded to the Protocol on Dec 13, 2013, having signed the Convention in 2001.

In acceding to the protocol, Zimbabwe also committed itself to work with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG) to address deficiencies in its anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism laws.

Trafficking in persons is connected with the Convention for the Financing of Terrorism on the issue of proceeds of the crime. The Bill, together with the amendments which had been passed under the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act in January, needed to be regularized through Parliament before the lapse of the 180 days temporal decree.

Failure to pass the Bill through Parliament would have resulted in the FATF slapping Zimbabwe with financial sanctions for lack of co-operation.

MDC legislator for Musikavanhu constituency, Prosper Mutseyami argued that passing the Bill without conducting public hearings was going against the Constitution. He said the public was entitled to be educated about Bills before they were passed.

“I appreciate that there is urgency for this Bill to sail through this House, but I feel it is of paramount importance for the Honorable Minister of Home Affairs (Kembo Mohadi) to give a chance to the ordinary people of Zimbabwe to give their voice to the Bill,” he said.

His MDC colleagues, including Bulawayo East MP Thabita Khumalo and Lucia Matibenga of Kuwadzana constituency concurred, saying more time was needed for the people to scrutinize the Bill.

Speaker Jacob Mudenda intervened, rapping the opposition for unnecessarily delaying passage of the Bill.
“This Bill has been gazetted since March 7, 2014, if you calculate that you have two months and 14 days during which time active public participation could have been sought, so let us not cry over spilt milk. It will be futile to subject Zimbabwe into financial sanctions which we do not need, we must also look into national interests, our national interests are paramount,” he said.