WE earnestly and whole-heartedly pray that what Labour minister, Sekai Nzenza has told us is not going to happen, especially given that Zimbabwe is reeling under a debilitating socio-economic and political crisis.
“There is a new Bill that is going to be introduced soon, and is known as the Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF) Bill, which will assist government in ensuring that there are no stayaways before negotiations between the government and its workers. This Bill will be signed by President (Emmerson Mnangagwa) on Wednesday (today), and it is a new initiative introduced so that workers and the government first engage in negotiations alongside the Apex Council. Workers, therefore, can no longer engage in stayaways before engaging other TNF stakeholders,” Nzenza has told us matter of factly.
For a nation whose workers have for years waited for the TNF to be enacted, to then wake up to a situation where one party to the negotiations has suddenly drawn out their AK-47 assault rifle and placed it on the negotiating table before the negotiating has even started, is barbaric, to say the least.
The minister and government’s declared position, we are sorry to say, is brazenly confrontational. This new development is grossly crude given that for the past six months the government and employers have been playing hide and seek with workers. If the clause mentioned by Nzenza is, indeed, part of this new Bill – although it works perfectly well for government and employers, it is not only unconstitutional as the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions has already said, but it will embitter the TNF relations.
What, for instance, are the workers supposed to do when either the government or employers, or both, drag their feet to the negotiating table? Further still, what are the workers supposed to do in the event that there is a deadlock at the negotiating table?
In fact, did our lawmakers actually pass this Bill, with such a clause, as good for our troubled nation? Does Nzenza and company really believe they are helping the situation by holding a gun to the head of the workers? This clause is fit for the archives of draconian rulers. This is a piece of law which some of us least expected from our beloved “new dispensation”.