GOVERNMENT has been taken to task for failing to take the Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF) seriously at a time the country’s economic crisis is worsening.
The TNF is a social dialogue platform that brings together government, business and labour to negotiate key socio-economic matters.
The TNF Bill was signed into law by President Emmerson Mnangagwa in June this year.
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions president Peter Mutasa told employers at the Employers’ Confederation of Zimbabwe 37th congress held in Bulawayo last week that there has been no progress on the negotiating platform due to the lack of trust among the tripartite partners and lack of consultation by government.
“If you look at what is wrong in our country it is because there is no democratic ownership of anything. It is for those who fought for the liberation of the country to do what they want and everyone else must just follow,” Mutasa said.
“ I used to go to the (Labour) minister’s (Sekai Nzenza) alone when invited but now I am afraid to go alone. I have to hire some people. That is how bad the relationship is. So we must talk about these things freely.”
He pointed out that social partners are not consulted and are taken by surprise when policies such as Zim Asset and TSP are announced by government.
Mutasa said there is no social dialogue in Zimbabwe though it has been on the cards since 1998.“The TNF is dead,” Mutasa said.
Emcoz president Israel Murefu said there is need for more consultation by government particularly in the crafting of statutory instruments.
“So many statutory instruments are being crafted by the authorities without the input of the other parties that is business and labour. It is like the country is being run on statutory instruments,” Murefu noted. “Government needs to consult before all these instruments are put into place.”
He said it was imperative to create shared vision, values and aspirations to ensure that the tripartite partners move in the same direction.
International Labour Organisation country director Hopolang Phororo pointed out that there is need for the social partners to build trust among each other.
She said they remain committed to ensure capacity building but pointed out there must be tangible results.
Nzenza told employers that rather than fighting each other, the tripartite partners need to talk together and as the TNF presents an opportunity to make decisions that can lead to economic growth.
In an interview on the sidelines of the Emcoz congress, Murefu said they have engaged government on the need to the negotiating platform seriously.
There have been complaints that government sent junior officers who could not commit to any agreements made at initial meeting of the TNF as a legislated body.
“We met the minister of labour and raised this issue and at this congress we also raised the same issue to say we need more seriousness from government, we need full set of representatives from each of the social partners so that the parties meeting at TNF are fully mandated to deal with TNF business,” Murefu said. “Therefore, we expect a full range of government officials to be available.
In addition, government argued that this was just an inaugural meeting where we were just trying to establish the full structures of TNF and we may not have expected to have full representation.”