By Dylan Murambgi
Harare, May 03, 2016 – THE government on Monday hosted May Day Commemorations for the first time in 25 years, with Labour Minister Prisca Mupfumira promising to address the issues raised by its more than 250 000 restive workforce.
The gathering, attended by a handful ministers and deputy ministers, failed to live up to expectations as only a few hundred workers turned up for the much publicised event.
Even a cascade drink and two buns given to everyone on entrance into the stadium and the music of man of the moment, Jah Prayzah and Sulumani Chimbetu could not attract a full crowd at Rufaro stadium, which only the previous day was filled to capacity as it hosted perennial soccer rivals, Caps United and Dynamos with fans paying $5 for the rest of the ground.
The commemorations were held under the theme, “growing the economy through a shared vision and creating sustainable employment”.
In her speech, Mupfumira, said government was working to address the conditions of service for its workers and would soon establish a pension fund for civil servants and also address concerns of Occupational Health and Safety, housing and other conditions of service.
Mupfumira noted that government was in the process of reviewing the Public Service law to ensure it was in sync with the Constitution of the country, adopted in 2013 and also to ensure it was aligned to international best practices.
“I am certain that the reform process is nearing completion as the Labour Advisory Council has almost completed its task after the TNF set a deadline of 30 April 2016 to have the process finalised,” she said.
Mupfumira said government had completed the civil service audit which was meant to cut down on the government wage bill, adding that measures were being undertaken to implement findings of the Civil Service Audit.
“It is envisaged that the strategies and mechanisms that are being implemented will result in substantial savings thereby releasing pressure on the strained fiscus,” she said.
She said the rationalisation exercise would be done in consultation with the workers through their representatives in the Joint Negotiating Council.
A Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions representative who spoke on behalf of the union said the country should stop blaming the outside world for its failures, adding that the country should accelerate acquisition of employer dividends in all sectors.
“We must not always blame the outside world for our failures. Instead, we must make huge sacrifices and implement the policies put in place by government,” he said.
He said corruption had destroyed the country’s economy and needed to be nipped in the bud.
The ZFTU official also called on the government to ensure labour law reforms were completed by September 16 this year, adding that the country’s labour legislation protected employers at the expense of workers while it also criminalised strikes.
Guest of honour, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, said government was committed to labour law reforms, saying it was currently working on the domestication of ILO Conventions and the alignment of labour laws with the Constitution.
He however bemoaned the sanctions imposed on the country, saying they had made it difficult for the country’s economy to recover.
The ZCTU, the biggest labour centre in the country, which held parallel commemorations on Sunday at Gwanzura stadium, snubbed the government event and so did the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ).
An obscure labour centre, Congress of Zimbabwe Trade Unions (COZITU) led by former ZCTU President, Lovemore Matombo, was represented at the event.
Ministers who graced the occasion included Saviour Kasukuwere, Makhosini Hlongwane and Mirriam Chikukwa among others.