Unemployment continues to wreak havoc in Zimbabwe.
Industry and Trade minister Welshman Ncube recently indicated 87 companies had closed shop and over 20 000 workers had lost jobs in Bulawayo last year.
Due to de-industrialisation and factors such as human rights violations, the government’s indigenisation programme allegedly scaring investors away, and the economic crisis rocking the country following political upheavals, many people have lost their jobs.
However, a union called Zimbabwe Unemployed People’s Association (Zupa) was formed in January this year to assist the unemployed and retired members of society.
Director-in-charge of placements in Zupa, Khisimusi Moyo, said Zimbabweans had suffered a lot due to lack of employment.
He said this led to the formation of Zupa. The organisation represents 65% of unemployed and retired people in Zimbabwe.
The organisation has over 10 000 members in Bulawayo while figures for other regions are still being compiled.
“We are interviewing unemployed youths to learn the reasons why they are not employed. Some were retrenched, while others cite shortage of job opportunities. Others say industries they were working for closed,” said Moyo.
He said Zupa was irked by the recent wave of closures and relocation of industries from Bulawayo to Harare leaving people jobless.
“We have embarked on a programme to defend workers who lose their jobs through de-industrialisation and retrenchment. We are aiming at buying companies which were closed through financial assistance from our partners,” said Moyo.
“So far we have visited about five companies with the intention of finding out if the owners of the companies would allow us to buy them. It is sad that most company owners are not willing to sell their companies,” he said.
Moyo said they had approached Ingwebu Breweries over its non-functional beer outlets in the city.
He said they had since made tender applications to operate the facilities so as to provide employment to registered unemployed people.
“We also approached Salelani Enterprises to inject funds towards capitalisation of the company so as to create employment in the region. We are still making efforts to establish our own companies and register them in our name,” said Moyo.
He added Zupa was waiting for the government taskforce investigating the de-industrialisation in Bulawayo to complete their exercise.
After that they would approach them to see if Zupa would be allowed to buy some industries.
“We encourage the unemployed youths to register with Zupa so that whenever any opportunities arise they can be assisted to get jobs,” said Moyo.
He went on to say the creation of employment across the country by the organisation is done in a devolved way, with people from each of the five regions get employed within their region.
He said only skills which are not found in that province would be sourced from other regions.
The organisation has structures in Matabeleland, Mashonaland, Manicaland, Midlands and Masvingo, representing the unemployed.
Moyo said people who want to create employment through income-generating projects, must submit their proposals to Zupa. All stakeholders must take part in the promotion of employment creation.
“We are also lobbying for the provision of social benefits for the retired members of society.”
Thabani Maphosa, Zupa director of technical affairs, said they were looking for funding to assist intending tertiary students to enrol in appropriate institutions.
“People do not access tertiary education because of shortage of funds. This makes them irrelevant to the job market. That is where we come in to assist,” said Maphosa.
Maphosa said Zupa also carried out HIV and Aids awareness campaigns across the country.
As a way of empowering the unemployed, the president of Zupa is sponsoring a cultural group called Inkanyezi Arts and Culture (KwaZhou Foundation) which specialises in drama and traditional dance and songs.
The organisation also assists disadvantaged communities in form of donations.
Recently, a Zupa delegation led by its vice-president Mqondisi Moyo donated 10 bags of cement, 10 dishes, four 20 litre buckets to be used for fetching water, 10 blankets, plumbing material for water connection, cotton wool, gloves and some clothes to Garanyemba clinic in Gwanda, after the institution registered its concerns and challenges to the union.
Moyo promised Zupa would continue to assist the clinic.