‘Informal sector decline a threat to GNU’

A LEADING human resources consultancy firm says Zimbabwe’s growing levels of unemployment pose a threat to the inclusive government because non-formal employment is on the decline following the liberalisation of the economy.

The United Nations estimates that at least 90% of the country’s economically active citizens were unemployed.
A poll carried by Industrial Psychology Consultants this month shows that the situation continues to be dire for job seekers despite high hopes which were heightened at the formation of a coalition government between President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his deputy Arthur Mutambara.
“The level of unemployment in the country is a ticking time bomb that the inclusive government needs to deal with urgently,” the report shows.
The consultancy firm criticised the inclusive government for lacking a “known strategy” of creating new jobs.
Government has since last February come up with economic-growth programmes that included the Short-Term Emergency Recovery Programme aimed at stopping a decade-long economic hemorrhage.
The plans have, however, not been effective owing to lack of funding. Zimbabwe needs close about US$10 billion to resuscitate the comatose economy.
The report stated that levels of employment in the informal sector, which at the height of hyperinflation in 2008 reached a peak, were shrinking.
“The list of those out of both formal and informal employment is growing daily and at a very fast rate. What is the strategy of the government in dealing with this growing tide of unemployment?” questioned the report. “It is too vague for the government to say that employment will be created when capacity utilisation in industry increases or when the economy grows. With technological advancement, organisations may not be able to reengage new employees after restructuring even if capacity utilisation doubles. This leaves the government with very few options for creating new jobs.”
The survey comes at a time when Labour minister Paurina Mpariwa recently said her ministry had received numerous applications by companies seeking job cuts.
The report further showed that at least six in every 10 formally employed workers in Zimbabwe were not secure with their current employers.
The figure represents a six basis points increase from a similar poll that was carried by the consulting firm last June.
However, when asked about their chances of finding a new employer, 78% of the 802 employees sampled in the poll felt that there were new job opportunities, which could suggest that workers could be leaving their jobs to join rival companies or already existing companies.
While the economic environment has vastly improved compared to unprecedented levels of 2007/8, the report showed that 80% of the respondents felt that it was still early to “advise” friends and relatives working outside Zimbabwe’s borders to return home.
“There is still a lot of work to be done on the ground by the inclusive government to increase the confidence of the population. It’s important to note that relatives here at home have strong influence on when their relatives will be coming back home based on the feedback they give to their relatives,” read the report.

 

Bernard Mpofu

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