Authorities sweat as human trafficking, smuggling persists

Government authorities are worried about the prevalence of organised cross-border crime particularly human trafficking, migrant smuggling and drug smuggling among others.

Border towns are the worst affected as the country is used as a transit zone by people making the great trek from their countries in the Great Lakes and other African regions mostly to South Africa.

Some even choose to stay in Zimbabwe.

While some are arrested and deported many reportedly make their way to South Africa through the help of syndicates comprising authorities at various offices and bush travel agents working with unauthorised transporters.

The revelations were made during an inaugural workshop organised by the Africa Union Commission in Victoria Falls to afford member states and various stakeholders a platform to exchange information aimed at combating the scourge of transnational organised crime.

The AU Commission has set up a Continental Operational Centre in Khartoum, Sudan which it seeks to operationalise for the purpose of combating transnational organised crime, particularly human trafficking and migrant smuggling.

The workshop which started on Wednesday and ended Thursday also sought to start the process of crafting a strategic plan that will guide operations.

Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Permanent Secretary Aaron Nhepera said Zimbabwe was committed to the establishment of an institutional framework which will contribute to addressing human trafficking.

“It is still quite a challenge. We are still seeing people moving through our country and most of them want to pass but there are some who are choosing to stay in Zimbabwe. Therefore it is a challenge,” said Nhepera.

He told the stakeholders who included national and regional police organisations, researchers, immigration officials and others that the solution has all along been to arrest irregular migrants and send them back to their countries.

Some are kept at the refugee camp in Odzi, Manicaland province.

Zimbabwe already has bilateral agreements with neighbouring countries in Sadc to fight transnational organised crimes.

The decision to establish a Continental Operational Centre in Sudan was endorsed by the Assembly during the 32nd Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly held in February 2019.

AU Commission technical advisor Peter Mudungwe said cross-border crime is high in the continent.
He said the Khartoum Centre is long overdue, as it will bring together law enforcement agencies in member states in the fight against various crimes and irregular migration.

With your support as the primary stakeholders of the Centre, together we can develop a centre that will evolve into a continental leader in its mandated area of work.

“Due to upsurge in TOC and irregular migration on the continent, the establishment of the Khartoum is long overdue.

“This workshop, therefore, marks a critical step in the process of preparing the strategic plan of the Khartoum Centre. With your support as partners and stakeholders, we can make migration a major contributor to our shared vision of a continent that is integrated and prosperous,” he said.

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