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Horticulture industry in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe has a diverse climate making it suitable for flower, fruit and vegetable production. These favorable climatic conditions attracted significant levels of foreign investment in the early 1990s and by 2000, horticultural production was thriving in the country[1], contributing 4% of GDP. The land reform program (2000), among other factors, reduced this growth momentum and since then, horticultural production has gone down significantly. Zimbabwe’s horticultural industry has been on a rebound since 2010, driven mainly by vegetables and flowers. The Women@Work Campaign in Zimbabwe will focus on green beans, flowers and snow peas.

The horticulture industry is labor intensive, particularly for grading, bunching and packing. It is at these stages that female labor is more preferred than male. The Labor Relations Act provides for general and specific regulations to female employees with regards to maternity leave, sick leave, weekly rest, public holidays, sexual harassment, wages, minimum wages, breastfeeding, working conditions, and workers representation. Although legal provisions are in place, sexual abuse for example is difficult to detect because most women fear victimization and loss of work and accommodation and therefore do not report the cases.

Private sector compliance

Companies in Zimbabwe should comply with the Labor Act which has provisions for gender. Wages in particular and conditions of work in general are laid out in a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) for the horticulture industry. Generic features of a CBA relate to minimum wages, accommodation, working hours, number of working days, overtime work payment, sick leave, vacation leave, National Social Security Administration (NSSA) levies, labor union membership and protective clothing.

Companies in the horticulture sector are certified under various international standards including: SMETA (Sedex Members Ethical Trading Audit; BRC (British Retail Consortium); Global Gap Accreditation; Fair Trade; MPS and ETI Base Code. This therefore means that they adhere to the provisions of CBA.

Laws, policies and government

Zimbabwe is signatory to key women’s rights and gender equality instruments including the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development, the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and most ILO conventions on worker rights. The Zimbabwe policy framework is gender sensitive. The 2013 Constitution In particular has provisions for gender equality. National institutions have been created whose mandates are to promote gender equity. Such institutions include the: Gender Commission; the Ministry of Women Affairs; Gender and Community Development and the Parliamentary Committee on Gender.

At the implementation level, the Ministry of Labor and Social Services has a mandate to execute gender policies that Parliament promulgates. Policies in Zimbabwe are made by Parliament, though policy recommendations come from different sources that include the executive, civil society, the Commission, and other stakeholders. Despite this elaborate and well-intended policy framework, there is limited policy implementation. Stakeholders argue decision making institutions are male dominated, resulting in low prioritization of gender issues.

[1] Dutch Government, 2014

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