From Abel Zhakata in NYANGA—
WORKER satisfaction is key to economic growth, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa said yesterday. Addressing labour court judges and officials from the International Labour Organisation at a workshop here yesterday, VP Mnangagwa — who was represented by the Attorney General Mr Prince Machaya — said recent amendments to the Labour Act would bring relief to workers.
He said the new law would also provide the necessary framework for the ease of doing business in Zimbabwe. “A distinguishing feature of most successful economies in the world today is their ability to relate increased productivity with worker satisfaction. In other words, the more the worker is satisfied with conditions of work, the greater he/she puts maximum effort into the success of the enterprise.”
He urged Labour Court judges to apply international best practices that would enable them to expeditiously resolve disputes in a just and acceptable manner. “Labour issues are currently taking centre stage in our national development discourse. Indeed, the nation is hopeful that the recent amendments to the Labour Act will bring relief to our workers. It is against this background that I find the convening of this workshop quite timely.
“I say so because the opportunity for our Labour Court judges to interact with each other and exchange experiences and best practices with labour experts will go a long way in creating a harmonious labour market and expeditious resolution of disputes in a just and internationally accepted manner.”
VP Mnangagwa said labour issues were of a serious nature hence they were captured in last week’s State of the Nation Address by President Mugabe. “The workshop comes against the backdrop of the State of the Nation Address by President Mugabe wherein he announced the 10-Point Plan, which aims to maintain economic growth and the creation of jobs.
“Item Number 8 on the 10-Point Plan deals with the pertinent issue of ‘Modernising Labour Laws’,” he said. The ILO, he said, was promoting social justice in the workplace, which was necessary for economic development. “I wish to acknowledge the commitment of the ILO office and their continued support to our activities. I also wish to assure the ILO that the Government of Zimbabwe remains steadfastly committed to the ideals of the organisation, in general, and to promoting international labour standards, in particular.
“The ILO’s mandate of promoting social justice in the world of work as expressed in its founding Constitution and the declaration of Philadelphia remain relevant to Zimbabwe today as it did in 1980 when the country took sovereign decision to be a member of the organisation.
“Zimbabwe has to date ratified 26 ILO conventions of which 25 are in force. Among the 25 ratified conventions that are still in force are the eight core conventions that relate to human rights in the world of work. “This demonstrates the eagerness of our country to promote fair labour standards and social justice in the world of work which is the basis upon which the ILO was founded,” he said.
Cde Mnangagwa said the country had domesticated the provisions of the relevant conventions. “In 2013, Zimbabwe adopted a new Constitution, which is arguably among the most progressive constitutions in the world in terms of guaranteeing labour rights. “To that end, our Constitution now explicitly gives all rights covered by the ILO core conventions. Having adopted the new Constitution, all arms of Government, including the highest office in the land, have worked tirelessly to align our labour laws with the provisions of the Constitution.
“Recently, Parliament had to be summoned from its recess in order to consider the Labour Amendment Bill, which has since become law,” said VP Mnangagwa. Speaking at the same function the Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, Cde Prisca Mupfumira, said labour law reforms were an on-going process.
“Labour law reform is an ongoing process given the dynamics of the labour market that calls for vigilance of policy markers. “We respect the principle of separation of powers and are of the considered view that your input as practitioners and specialists in labour law will provide valuable input to enrich our process,” she said.
ILO country office director, Ms Hopolang Phororo, said the organisation was helping Zimbabwe to implement programmes that addressed among other things, youth employment, skills and employability, women economic empowerment, labour migration, gender equality, HIV and Aids at the workplace and, social dialogue as well as fighting child labour. “Some of our key on-going initiatives include support to job creation for young people, strengthening of social dialogue through the Tripartite Negotiating Forum,” she said.