Expert says 2024 National Budget to worsen workers’ plight in the new year   

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By Alois Vinga

RENOWNED academic, Dr Godfrey Kanyenze says the just commenced year will be one of the toughest for workers owing to a cocktail of ensuing hardships.

The 2024 National Budget unveiled by Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube last year attracted cross-cutting backlash with some sections even in the ruling Zanu-PF party calling for the resignation of the Treasury boss. The developments forced authorities to admit the need for an intense amendment of the National Budget which has seen some alterations being effected.

The Labour and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe (LEDRIZ) director, Dr Kanyenze however still believes that the blueprint set firm foundations for workers’ struggles into the new year.

 “The hardships to be endured by the country’s workforce are already well scripted and spelt out in the 2024 National Budget blueprint. Historically and presently, any form of economic growth recorded in the country has never been tied to job growth and decent work,” he said.

He added that most local companies are now willing to informalise operations and avoid harsh taxation measures, a trait which he warned will not augur well for the working class.

“Such intensification of informality has obvious adverse effects which will see the rise of unregulated employment and indecent jobs all of which will seriously affect the quality of jobs,” Kanyenze said.

He underscored that the level of tax-free thresholds which has already been gobbled by inflationary pressures before the progression of the year implies that many workers, who are still earning ZWL will have very less to take home.

The economist said as revealed by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency Labour Force surveys throughout the year 2023, not more than 15% of the country’s workforce earns salaries above Poverty Datum Lines.

“You would also note that the economy is not creating opportunities for the youth who unfortunately happen to be the most populous demographic band. This implies that the older generation of workers will have to continue breaking their backs to fend for the young.

“The 2,3 million youths who are Not In Education Employment or Training plus many others not gainfully employed will be left with no choice except to abuse drugs to ease the pressures,” Kanyenze said.

Quizzed on any proposed interventions which the government can employ as a matter of urgency, the top economist further decried shrinking dialogue space.

“That is also another challenge. As you noted towards the end of last year space for dialogue shrunk considerably due to the enactment of several legislative instruments.

“We are witnessing a similar trend even economically where established social dialogue platforms have been rendered useless and ineffective. Currently, the government is engaging businesses well outside established dialogue platforms.

“Most of the 2024 National Budget was amended outside the Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF) , even bold steps by the government to legislate the platform,” added Kanyenze.