Allegations of abuse at SADC office in

It has been evident as per testimonies that sexual harassment is the order of the day at SADC
It has been evident as per testimonies that sexual harassment is the order of the day at SADC

Sexual harassment, abuse, intimidation and gender based discrimination are alleged to be the order of the day at one of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretariat's offices in Zambia.

The alleged cases at the Secretariat office called Plant Genetic Resources Centre (SPGRC) centre around an alleged male perpetrator named Dr Justify Gotami Shava, a Zimbabwean national. The latter has reportedly left many employees at the office emotionally scarred and some fearing for their livelihoods. Details emerged during an ongoing Tribunal session before a panel of three Judges from various parts of Southern African region where one Sthembiso Mbhele, South African citizen and a Senior Programme Officer Ex Situ Conservation located in Lusaka, Zambia has filed a case against SADC alleging unfair dismissal. Evidence before the SADC Administrative Tribunal (SADCAT), which is being presided over by Justices Dr Sanji Monageng, Rodgers Manyangadze and Dr Adelino Muhongo, suggest that the SADC head at the Zambian SPGRC office, one Shava has been terrorising the employees.

The latter have reported being diagnosed with different illnesses related to extreme stress. Different employees who had been subpoenaed before court gave account of how they are made to live in fear and struggle with a toxic environment due to Shava’s alleged harassment, abuse and constant character assassination of different nationalities at the office. Witnesses who could not be named for fear of further victimisation have alleged that Shava has characterised citizens of South Africa as, ‘lazy and rebellious’, Batswana as, ‘lazy' while Zambians are said to be ‘thieves and as technically incompetent’. “The environment is so toxic that most of us have been to the doctor numerous times and diagnosed with similar illnesses related to stress. We are called names like lazy and thieves. We are also subjected to inappropriate conversations,” said one witness. Witnesses fear losing their jobs as it was evidenced by one witness who requested that she be assured that her job would be safe as she testifies against the said Shava. She told the Tribunal recently that Shava once told her that she will have a job to feed her family but she will not have a life. The witness, who kept breaking into tears, said she could not understand why the boss told her that and wondered if he made reference to one employee who has passed away as she (deceased) was also subjected to Shava’s alleged terror.

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