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Economists: Massive Zimbabwe Job Cuts Sign of Serious Economic Problems

  • Thomas Chiripasi

FILE: Workers of the National Railways of Zimbabwe staging peaceful protests in Zimbabwe's second largest city, Bulawayo.

FILE: Workers of the National Railways of Zimbabwe staging peaceful protests in Zimbabwe's second largest city, Bulawayo.

Zimbabwean workers are in a state of panic following a Supreme Court ruling allowing companies to dismiss workers without terminal benefits.

All this as the country’s economy continues to grind to a halt with job losses being recorded every day.

Labor representative bodies are calling on the authorities to urgently review the country’s labor laws and put in place policies that will help revive the national economy and create more jobs.

Following the Supreme Court ruling that has set tongues wagging across the country, more than 20,000 workers in private and public institutions have lost their jobs, according to the country’s main umbrella labor body, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU).

One of the affected workers, Lynette Kupara of Harare, says life without a job is painful.

The ZCTU says those affected by the Supreme Court ruling have joined millions of Zimbabweans that are not in formal employment, further increasing the unemployment rate to almost 90 percent.

A report released by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency or Zimstats before the ongoing job cuts says slightly over 700,000 people were formally employed countrywide.

However, ZCTU general secretary Japhet Moyo, says the job losses have worsened the livelihoods of many people countrywide considering that most workers were already earning salaries that were below the poverty datum line of almost $540 per month for an urban family of six.

PARLIAMENT URGENT MEETING

This was echoed by the board chairman of the Zimbabwe Labour Centre, Munyaradzi Gwisai, who says the current situation on job losses have taken Zimbabwe back to the colonial era.

In an effort to address the current labor crisis, President Robert Mugabe has called on lawmakers that were on recess until September to reconvene Tuesday to consider the Labor Laws Amendment Bill.

But Moyo says the ZCTU is not happy with some of the proposals in the Bill and further complained that labor, as a partner in the National Tripartite Negotiating Forum, was not consulted before the formulation of the Bill.

He says his labor body will present a written submission to parliament on the Bill.

Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe director, John Mufukare, says employers are also not happy with some of the provisions of the Bill.

Labour Minister Prisca Mupfumira requested questions in writing and had not responded at the time of going on air.

MDC-T WORRIED

Meanwhile, former ZCTU general secretary, who is now the leader of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change party, Morgan Tsvangirai, says more workers could to lose their jobs as the passage of the Bill may take some time.

The former premier says labor representatives should now reflect on themselves and speak with one voice as they confront the government over the labor crisis.

As the job losses continue to affect many Zimbabwean workers, ZCTU is urging government to create an investor-friendly climate that would see the injection of foreign direct investment into the country’s national economy.

Moyo says laws such as the black empowerment regulations should be done away with since it discourages foreign direct investment.

Some economic analysts say the continuing job losses and company closures are negatively impacting the growth of the country’s economy and further impoverishing more Zimbabweans.

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