Africa Moyo Deputy News Editor
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) president Mr Peter Mutasa says the Tripartite Negotiating Forum Act, which was gazetted on Friday, can help address some challenges confronting the country, which include the high prices of goods.
But Mr Mutasa said political will from all the social partners — Government, labour and business — was central to the success of the TNF.
President Mnangagwa signed the TNF Act on Wednesday and launched it on the same day in the presence of all social partners.
Mr Mutasa told The Herald that the ZCTU was happy the TNF Act was signed.
He said it was ZCTU that “started to talk about the TNF” and the need for proper structures from 1995.
“So we are happy that we have now realised what we have been fighting for, for over 20 years,” said Mr Mutasa.
He said if all partners are going to be “faithful to the process, and negotiate in good faith, engage in good faith, have the political will”, the TNF could address some of the challenges in the country.
Mr Mutasa said the TNF provides a platform where other social partners could buy-in Government programmes and policies, also ensure there is inclusiveness in Government policies, “which is very important”.
“So inclusiveness is very important for the developmental agenda of the country. And again, accountability because most issues will then come up on the table,” he said.
Mr Mutasa said they spoke with President Mnangagwa during the TNF launch, about the mega deals being entered into by Government, and asked if they will not result in the “mortgaging of our country”.
He said the TNF will discuss such issues to ensure an open and responsive Government”.
“But it needs cultural change, it needs people to view governance differently, it needs citizens also to participate differently. So the promulgation of the Act is the first step, but that’s not the panacea to the problems that we have. It depends on the level of political will, especially that of Government to involve stakeholders in the governance of the country.
“It also depends on good faith negotiation and also if all partners take a broader view and not a sectorial interest only. Obviously, this is a new phenomenon in terms of how the country is governed, so all of us — Government, labour and business — need capacity building for us to understand these issues in an inclusive manner,” he explained.
Mr Mutasa said Government, as the convener, must sustain the structure where there would be an independent committee and an independent secretariat.
Turning to prices, Mr Mutasa said the level of increase “is total madness”.
He said both Government and businesses continue to pay salaries in RTGS dollars while also not reviewing salaries in line with changes in the foreign exchange market. Mr Mutasa said if the situation persists, “both business and Government are inviting labour to take strike action, and definitely that will happen”.
He also said the ZCTU has relations with both MDC and ZANU-PF for the benefit of employees.
“Our relationship with the MDC is the same relationship we have with ZANU-PF. We engage all political parties, any party that has a bearing on the lives of workers, any party that has councillors, that has got MPs; we engage them and the engagement that we have with political parties is beneficial to workers because we go to Parliament and lobby on behalf of the workers, we go to Government and talk to ministers who belong to ZANU-PF.
“So there is no particular, and peculiar relationship that we have with MDC and with ZANU-PF,” he said.
Mr Mutasa claimed that while they were at the forefront of MDC’s formation, they have retained their autonomy after agreeing that ZCTU leaders who go to the party will relinquish their positions in the trade union.
“And that has been consistently happening. So we have our own independence, our own autonomy, but we engage all political parties,” he said.