THE United Nations is well-known for all sorts of studies and surveys in Zimbabwe. Even where employees are concerned, we are exhorted to complete surveys designed to make the workplace a better place — gender, working hours, HIV and Aid
s, you name it. We have a lot of tools designed to monitor staff performance or lack of performance and what can be done about it.
The big irony is that in all these surveys and tools designed to create a better workplace, no one has really taken time to look at the issue of racism in the organisation.
At UN agencies in Zimbabwe, as in all countries, the senior managerial employees are usually foreigners. This is especially true of the country representatives and country directors. While this is a noble concept in that, among other things, it enables these senior managers to be impartial and above national politics, it has a big price tag – racism.
The UN is indeed a melting pot of cultures, races and even tribes. Thus it should be a microcosm of the real world that we live in, and there are racist elements in society. It therefore comes as a surprise that the UN pretends that this is not an issue at all.
It is a fact of life for all UN employees in Zimbabwe that racism is rampant and entrenched in these so-called “international” staff. There is a disturbing culture of silence that all UN employees in Zimbabwe have while they are being segregated on a daily basis and decisions are being made to their detriment.
We do have wonderful international colleagues who are dedicated to their humanitarian work, but mostly they are racists bent on creating little fiefdoms where they ride roughshod over locals behind the diplomatic smokescreen.
There is nothing much that authorities can do because of this diplomatic smokescreen, so the racists of the Zimbabwe UN office go on unchecked doing activities that would normally have seen them earn an immediate recall if Zimbabweans knew about them.
To fellow staff members it is a pity that we do not want to lose the high pay so we continue to suffer indignities at the hands of these racists, but at least let’s make it known to the world that this is what we are going through. We are ready to name names.