Speaking at this year’s national conference on Safety and Health at Work (Shaw) in Harare on Wednesday, Labour minister Paurina Mpariwa said she was worried about the increasing number of serious accidents and fatalities that has been recorded so far at work places.
“Our economy is operating at about 35% production capacity utilisation but we have already posted the huge number of serious accidents and fatalities,” said Mpariwa. “Many workers continue to die at work due to ignorance of the accident preventative measures while others are victims of other people’s negligence.”
She added: “No one should die in the process of creating wealth for the country. All those who create wealth must do so in a safe and healthy manner so that they live to enjoy the fruits of their labour.”
Forty-one people died between January and August. In 2008, 62 fatalities were recorded while 64 were recorded the previous year.
The national work-related accident register also showed that 1 891 serious accidents were recorded as of August, compared to 3 576 in 2008.
Mpariwa said occupational accidents must be stopped.
Speaking at the same conference, Lovemore Matombo, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, blasted government for “not showing enough commitment to the welfare of the employees”.
“We as workers don’t trust the government in fully implementing policies on the safety and occupational rights of workers,” said Matombo. “They make the law in parliament and they chew it again.”
As the country’s industry is showing signs of growth following the formation of the inclusive government last year, there are concerns over the growing number of work-related accidents.
“They (government) laughed at us when we raised the Kadoma declaration but what happened last week at Shabanie Mine?” asked Matombo.
The Kadoma Declaration was signed under the Tripartite Negotiating Forum by the government, labour and business in August 2001 and identified the causes of the country’s high risk factor and suggested measures needed to be undertaken by the three social partners to deal with the risks and accidents at work places.
Three Shabanie Mine workers were shot and seriously injured by riot police during a peaceful demonstration over salaries and ownership dispute with management.
Matombo also said workers should change their behaviour to halt the spread of HIV and Aids which he said has impacted negatively on the industry.
“The decline in HIV and Aids statistics should not make us sit back, rather we should continue to raise the much needed awareness at the workplace and beyond,” said Matombo.