TNF launched 20 years later amid visible tensions

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By Alois Vinga

REPRESENTATIVES from labour, business and government Wednesday successfully launched a legislated Tripartite Negotiation Forum (TNF) which facilitate dialogue towards national development after almost 20 years since the idea was birthed under a heavy cloud of policy and ideological discord.

The TNF will be the country’s social dialogue platform to negotiate legislated key socio-economic matters that affect the nation and stakeholders at large.

However, in their keynote remarks, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) president, Peter Mutasa cited contradicting problems concerning the sources of the country’s socio-economic challenges, a development which indicates disagreement and threats which lie ahead of the forum.

In his presentation, Mutasa blamed government’s lack of consultation when implementing key policies as among the causes of the obtaining problems.

“The important point to note is that programs cannot succeed without broad based stakeholder participation and ownership. If we relate this to our own experiences, to what extent are our development programmes such as ZimAsset, the Transitional Stabilisation Programme and the recent monetary policy products of broad based consultation?” he asked.

The labour boss also quizzed how the narrative of austerity measures speaks to austerity for prosperity in the day to day realities.

“With the average minimum wage of ZWL$300, against a Food Poverty Line of ZWL$295 and a total cost consumption poverty line of ZWL$873 in March 2019, it is clear that wages are way below the living wage threshold,” Mutasa said.

Mnangagwa, who expressed optimism on the new page in the country’s history, took the blame away from challenges related to policies and instead blamed unethical business conduct.

“Matters related to the labour market and current erosion in the value of salaries and wages by the unjustified price hikes further give impetus to the need for more realistic and sustainable pricing models,” he said.
He underscored that reforms must never be deemed as tantamount to erosion of workers’ rights but as a means to creating jobs in a competitive environment while also urging social partners to refine past initiatives and craft innovative strategies for the future in the context of new realities facing our nation.