Africa Moyo Senior Business Reporter
EFFORTS to come up with a Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF) law have been hailed by Government, labour and business, as an important step in promoting dialogue to solve nagging issues, particularly at a time prices are being increased wantonly.
This emerged yesterday during a policy dialogue series organised by the Employers’ Confederation of Zimbabwe (Emcoz) in Harare to unpack and engage the legislature on the TNF.
A legal officer in the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Kudzaishe Havazvidi who was representing Minister Sekai Nzenza said the TNF Bill had gathered pace.
“The Bill is supposed to go through the Second Reading. It gives me great pleasure to announce that the TNF Bill is at an advanced stage,” said Mr Havazvidi.
He said progress on the TNF was previously hampered by lack of a legislative framework, and believes when the TNF Act comes into being, such challenges would be eliminated. Mr Havazvidi said the current pricing chaos in the economy, at a time when salaries are unchanged, makes “dialogue the way to go”.
“We are not inventing the wheel, we are following other jurisdictions who have tried it, who have been successful at it and we are guided by jurisdictions such as South Africa,” said Mr Havazvidi.
An Act of Parliament will ensure that a legislated TNF framework is enforceable, especially during the conducting of meetings. The TNF has previously succeeded in debating labour law reform proposals and the Kadoma Declaration, among other issues, but Government says the lack of a legislative framework has resulted in some TNF decisions not seeing the light of day.
Said Mr Havazvidi: “They (decisions) were not enforceable. We are quite confident that if an Act of Parliament is put in place, the decisions of the TNF would be binding.”
An important feature of the proposed law is that TNF decisions will be presented to Cabinet, and if approved, can become law; a move seen as progressive. Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) president Peter Mutasa said while legislating TNF will not address all challenges, it was a “first step in the right direction”.
“Let’s legislate it but let’s also understand that the legal framework is not going to address the plethora of challenges that we have. But we are in full support of the processes around legislation of the TNF Bill,” he said.
Mr Mutasa said the TNF, as a social dialogue platform, will depend on a number of issues such as political will, mutual trust, respect among the parties, political stability, accommodation of institutions, respect for human rights, and the ability to respect international conventions, and the Constitution.
Labour expert and lawyer with Mawire J. T & Associates, Mr John Mawire said the TNF will not succeed if political parties are playing hard-ball while trade unionists turn themselves into demi-gods who can challenge Government willy-nilly.
“Labour must know the difference between a pressure group and a partner in leadership. If you are a labour leader, you have not been appointed as Cabinet minister. I am talking about what happens in other countries where labour leaders usurp the powers of parliament; labour leaders usurp the power of ministers and they become antagonistic towards political leaders, MPs, ministers and even officials in Government.
“Each time they open their mouths, they are attacking (Government). That’s is why in some countries they have joined the ministries of Labour and Home Affairs, or the ministries of Labour and Defence because they realise the relationship is not healthy,” said Mr Mawire.
Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Honourable Emma Ncube (Proportional Representation) said yesterday’s deliberations would be critical during the TNF Bill debates.
Hon. Ncube said the Second Reading of the TNF Bill is set to resume any day from today.
The Portfolio Committee held public hearings on the TNF Bill from February 25 to March 1 this year, in all the country’s 10 provinces.