• Refers staff complaints to SADC Council of ministers
• Past and present Executive Secretaries accused of not addressing abuse
• SADC PR manager claims ignorance of sexual abuse cases
Hardly a few days after the SADC chairman Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has left the regional block headquarters, employees crying foul that they were not given opportunity to air their grievances regarding sexual abuse by some members of the management team.
A victim of a sexual abuse from one of the managers at the SADC secretariat (name known to this publication) said that progression of some junior officers is done in reference to sexual favours.
“We have been subjected to an offensive working environment in which we are subjected to unwanted sexual advances by some members of the senior management team and have tried to raise our concern to no avail,” said the lady officer.
She said that the problem started in 2013 and attempts to raise the issue with management have not borne fruit as they were blocked from approaching previous SADC chairpersons.
“On Tuesday we were surprised to hear that one officer was going to say out our grievances instead of us engaging the chairperson and this was an insult to our intelligence,” she said.
The main issue which was raised at the meeting was with regard to staff remuneration, but some said that was just one of the many issues they are unhappy with.
“People are demoralised because some with loose skirts are able to progress not because of their capability but by their ability to fall to the sexual advances of those who hold progression powers,” said an angry staff member after the address by SADC chairperson.
Another officer also confirmed that sexual advances are rampant at SADC headquarters and the complaints are always swept under the carpet.
To add salt to the injury, Mugabe did not even address the little concerns that were raised by the staff but rather ranted about his relationship with the West, said the source.
In his response to the staff concerns Mugabe said that he was the wrong person to address their issues but rather said they should channel such through the SADC Council of Ministers led by his Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi.
Mugabe called on the staff to ensure that good corporate governance, accountability, openness and operations and projects are key principles within the secretariat. Another staffer said that sexual innuendo is just part of the fabric at the SADC secretariat as past and present Executive Secretaries have failed to address the issue.
Sex for hire
One graduate, who was once called for interview at the SADC secretariat, has confirmed that she was asked for sexual favours if she was to be given the contract.
“The contract was on the table and the gentleman told me that if am serious about getting the job I must sexually satisfy him first,” said the graduate who refused to be named. She said that she was initially tempted but ended up turning it down and hence was not offered the job.
Asked why she did not report the issue to the relevant authorities, she revealed that she was afraid that it would dent her chances of getting employment in other sectors.
Contacted for comment, Head of SADC Public Relations SADC Secretariat Leefa Martin said that she was not aware of any sexual abuse within the secretariat.
“If there are some employees who have been sexually abused they must follow the right channel and report the issue the human resources department,” she said. Asked if the issue was not raised during the staff meeting with SADC chairman, Martin answered in negative.