23 December 2015
THE HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION RELEASES FINDINGS OF ITS INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATIONS ON THE HORSE SHOE RESTAURANT ACCUSATIONS AGAINST RACISM
The Human Rights Commission wishes to officially inform the members of the Public and the Media that it has completed its independent investigations against a complaint related to racial discrimination levelled against Horse Shoe Restaurant by a member of the public.
In line with its mandate and in the spirit of affording both the complainant and the respondent, the Commission requested for a written submission by the Complainant who accordingly submitted it on 29 th November, 2016. The summary of the complaint is that the Complainant, Ms. Mika Mwambazi, stated that on Saturday, 19 th November, 2016, she went to Horse Shoe Restaurant and witnessed an employee being subjected to abusive and threatening language by one of the managers.
She complained that the alleged dehumanising manner smacked of racism and doubted if the employee was of the same or similar race to the manager he would have been treated in the manner he was treated.
On 24 th October 2016, the Commission also interviewed Horse Shoe Restaurant Workers, one by one, from all the sections who confirmed being subjected to abusive language, ill- treatment and singled out four managers as being culprits in using degrading and insulting language against them. Offensive name-calling such as “disgusting rats”, “rotten eggs”, “f**k you”, “idiots”, “you dog”, useless beings” and “stinking human beings”, were alleged to have been used against employees by some identified managers. The workers also complained of poor and slavery conditions of service and accused management of refusing workers to form a union to represent them in employment and labour related matters.
On 28 th October 2016, the Commission held a meeting with Horse Shoe Management with their lawyers as part of its impartial investigations. Management denied all the allegations levelled against them. They accused the complainant of “cooking up the story” in line with her “Salt Media” media company with the following objective: itself “Salt Media” whose main objective as stated on its Facebook page was to: “SALT is the agency that will enhance your Brand! We specialise in cooking up tasty content and delicious social media campaigns.”
They informed the Commission that they had engaged lawyers and had been to the Labour Office, Ministry of Tourism and the Zambia Police Service in an effort to stop the Complainant from posting any allegations against them.
The Commission, having analyzed all the facts of this case, made the following recommendations and observations:
(i) That the process for unionizing the Respondent’s employees be expedited and resolved within thirty days from the date of receipt of this recommendation. The right to freedom of association is enshrined in Zambia’s Constitution under Article 21 of the Bill of Rights and must be upheld;
(ii) That the Respondent brings a stop to threats of legal suits or police action against the Complainant who expressed her personal opinion upon having interacted with the Respondent. The Complainant exercised her right to freedom of expression within the ambit of the Constitution provision under Article 20 of the Bill of Rights and other regional and international human rights such as the International Convention on the Right to Civil and Political Rights.
(iii) That both parties in the interest of reconciliation immediately stop further personal attacks on social media. This recommendation is not in any way restricting the right to freedom of expression or media freedom but is aimed at seeking an amicable solution that takes into account the rights, reputations and interests of both parties.
(iv) That the Respondent’s managers or agents stop subjecting employees to shouting and yelling in order to create a healthy working environment. The inherent dignity and rights of the workers must be respected and protected even as the employers demand responsibility from the workers.
All these recommendations must be implemented within 30 days from 22 nd December 2016 when both the Respondent and the Complainant received the Commission findings and recommendations. This recommendation is pursuant to Section 13 of the Human Rights Commission Act, Chapter 48 of the Laws of Zambia, which provides that:
“13 (1) The Commission shall-
(a) send written reports of its findings to the parties concerned; and
(b) dependant on the findings made, make such recommendation as it considers necessary to the appropriate authority.
(2) The appropriate authority shall, within thirty days from the date of such recommendation make a report to the Commission, on any action taken by such authority to redress any human rights violation.
(3) Any person who contravenes the provisions of subsection (2) shall be guilty of an offence, and shall be liable, upon conviction, to a fine not exceeding ten thousand penalty units, or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years, or to both.”
It is also worth noting that the Commission was unable to establish a complaint against discrimination on the basis of race as defined by the Zambian Constitution and the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination. Suffice to however state that a crime of discrimination such as racism is a hidden crime which subtly takes place and can mostly be experienced by the victims than be observed by third parties.
The Commission therefore wishes to warn any individuals or institutions that may be practicing any form of discrimination based on race, colour, descent, national or ethnic origin, gender, disability, age, social, economic or political status to immediately stop because it is illegal, a crime and a violation of human rights.
Mr. Mudford. Z. Mwandenga
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION