THE country’s largest labour representative body, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), has said President Robert Mugabe should enter into serious dialogue with other political parties as a way of addressing the current economic meltdown that has condemned the majority of Zimbabweans to perpetual poverty.
MDC-T president Morgan Tsvangirai is on record challenging Mugabe to approach him for dialogue claiming that he had the keys to unlock the country’s economic crisis.
Zanu PF, which won last year’s general elections, has, however, ruled out any possiblity of talks with the former Premier.
ZCTU president George Nkiwane last week challenged Mugabe to give way for dialogue with all concerned stakeholders as a way of averting a major economic disaster.
“It is really necessary for dialogue to take place, but also we think that this dialogue should go beyond political engagement. All the stakeholders who have something to do with the Zimbabwean politics and the economy should be given a chance to engage and map the way forward,” Nkiwane said.
“At the moment, things are really bad and we have to give dialogue a chance, but let us not limit it to the political leaders only.”
The Government of National Unity between Zanu PF and the two MDC formations in 2009 was widely credited for bringing economic stability in the country after a period of hyper-inflation that relegated the majority of Zimbabweans into abject poverty.
Nkiwane said constructive dialogue would not only be in the best interest of workers, but all Zimbabweans.
“Companies are closing on a day-to-day basis while some are retrenching workers. So as a result, workers have been badly affected by the current situation and that is why we are saying that all those who have something to do with the economy should sit down and talk,” said Nkiwane.
The labour body said
1,3 million Zimbabweans were formally employed in 2012, but the number dropped to 1,2 million last year. The number of those formally employed, said the ZCTU, further dropped after last year’s disputed elections.
In November last year, retrenchment figures in Zimbabwe had reached 300 per week, said the ZCTU. It said the number of unemployed people in the country was likely to increase as more companies were likely to close down due to the current economic meltdown.
Nkiwane bemoaned the lack of policy consistency in the country’s investment laws which he said was largely to blame for the lack of foreign direct investment and the high unemployment rate currently prevailing in the country.
Presently, the unemployment rate stands at 85%.
The majority of Zimbabweans were now earning a living from the informal sector.
The country’s indigenisation policy has been blamed for scaring away potential investors with analysts saying it lacked clarity and created uncertainty.
“As long as we have the current order, we will continue to see companies closing down and the economic situation deteriorating. We need a paradigm shift because with the current policies in place, we cannot attract any investment, internal or external,” Nkiwane said. “We need to have policy consistency because as long as we do not have that, no investment is going to come.”
Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo could not be reached for comment yesterday.