FINANCE minister Patrick Chinamasa yesterday effectively came out in support of a Supreme Court ruling which has led to a bloodbath in job losses with about 9 000 workers kicked out of employment in two weeks.
While President Robert Mugabe on Wednesday promised to put an end to the job cuts and save workers, sentiments that his remarks were mere politicking were buttressed by Chinamasa’s clear support for the Supreme Court ruling, as well as his indication that the government was also moving to retrench workers in a bid to slash its unsustainable wage bill.
“ZimAsset recognises the need for a win-win labour relations framework, a critical component in ensuring the ease of doing business. In this regard, the recent ruling by the Supreme Court to the effect that ‘… the employer and the employee had a common law right to terminate an employment relationship on notice’ is being reviewed in the context of protecting rights of the worker, while at the same time ensuring continued survival and viability of the businesses …,” said Chinamasa.
“Any position of imbalance and in favour of one party to the contract is bound to bring negative implications to both parties.”
In March this year, Mugabe’s government set up a cabinet committee led Chinamasa and Labour minister Prisca Mupfumira to explore ways of reducing the government wage bill.
Economist John Robertson said yesterday cutting jobs is an ugly but necessary choice to avoid bankruptcy.
“Government can’t afford to pay all civil servants plus pensions. People may hope for special treatment because they work in government, but everyone should earn their keep,” he said.
Former finance minister Tendai Biti said Zanu PF was now being haunted by its patronage politics decision to reward loyalists with salaries.
“The public service is loaded with thousands of workers which the country can’t afford,” he said.
“Economic prudence now demands Zanu PF dismantles a political patronage system institutionalised through a bloated civil service, cabinet and parastatals,” Biti said.