Push for social contract gains traction

Minister Paul Mavima

Zimbabwe has waited for decades to craft a social contract, which is expected to bring government, business and labour to the negotiating table. The idea is to find common ground for a myriad of problems that have held back growth. NewsDay (ND) Business reporter Freeman Makopa last week talked to Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare minister Paul Mavima (PM) to find out when the long-awaited deal will come to fruition. He said he might be the one to clinch a pact out of a series of ministers that have attempted to no avail since the Kadoma declaration about two decades ago.

FM: What is taking place at TNF currently?

PM: We are going to have a TNF meeting on Friday (this week). We are mobilising aggressively for all social partners to participate.

We already have all our background and documents from our technical committee which met in Mutare around major issues and we are happy that we seem to have everyone on board on those issues.

There is commitment from labour and there is a commitment from government to have a meeting of minds on how we can move towards a social contract. We are putting a lot of value on the Friday meeting to discuss these TNF issues.

ND: What are some of the major issues to expect?

PM: We are hoping that we will finalise the appointment of an executive director for TNF.

That will give us an opportunity to put together an independent secretariat. It will no longer be government providing secretarial services.

The TNF will have a secretariat. We are also hopeful that we will have a resolution on standard operating procedures for TNF. This has been an outstanding issue for a long period.

ND: Tell us more about the standard operating procedures.

PM: We have a draft document on that and we are eyeing to get approval of that document and it then guides how TNF operates.

We are also expecting the approval of the preferred candidate for the executive director.

Once that person is in place, they will help us to constitute an independent TNF secretariat.

ND: Are there any burning issues?

PM: The most substantive issue of our desire is to achieve a social contract. There is work that has already been done around TNF’s contribution to stabilise the economy.

The only way we could do it is when the three parties (government, business and labour) that form TNF agree on how we behave going forward.

ND: This has been on the cards for many years?

PM: The social contract is all about achieving moderation in the demands for pay and wage rises and moderation as far as price hikes, which are inflationary, are concerned.

There is also moderation on the part of government in terms of making sure that the operating environment for business is good.

FM: On the labour front, enlighten us about your promise to pay fees for teachers’ children.

PM: This was a resolution that was accepted by government and specifically mandated by His Excellency (President Emmerson Mnangagwa) for us to do. It is a matter of following up with the relevant ministry.

But we should not be delayed because of technical issues like making sure that we have the database of the teachers and learners involved and of the schools involved.

All those have to be in place in order for the implementation to be completed, but it's no longer a decisional issue, it's now an issue of just implementation and we are saying our administrators need to be on task.

ND: When do you expect the implementation to take place?  

PM: I am sure that there has been implementation for some of the teachers, but I don’t know if we have achieved comprehensive implementation.

This is why I am saying we need to get an update from the relevant ministry to say have we implemented for all the teachers that were supposed to get that benefit.

In actual fact, there are some teachers who are saying they have not received, that means the implementation has not been comprehensive enough.

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