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Glen View Area 8 fires: Time for sustainable solutions

Letters
Glen View Area 8 fire

ON September 8 2022, the informal economy fraternity woke up to the devastating news of yet another fire outbreak at the Glen View Area 8 Complex in Harare.

The complex houses over 500 informal enterprises that specialise in the production and selling of furniture. This is the second time this year, fortunately in the first case the fire was quickly doused by alert traders.

It is estimated that over 1 500 young people and women are either directly or indirectly employed at the complex, providing the much-needed relief to a population that has found it hard to be employed in the formal job market.

The fire, which has now become an annual occurrence, came at a time when a lot of informal economy workers stationed at Glen View Area 8 Complex, were beginning to find their footing after the ravaging effects of COVID-19 to their businesses.

A snap survey instituted by the Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (Viset), revealed that over US$1,5 million worth of property was destroyed by the fire.

What makes the situation ghastly and unacceptable is that two weeks down the line, no one has bothed to give answers as to what really transpired on the day. This cannot be allowed to continue without anyone being held accountable.

The situation at Glen View Area 8 Complex is a micro-cosm of what is happening at the national level when it comes to the security of jobs and workspaces in the informal economy. We continue to work under very precarious conditions despite the calls by various stakeholders in the informal economy ecosystem for a government-led acceptance of informal economy workers as workers.

The Glen View Area 8 case clearly demonstrates the lack of enthusiasm and eagerness by government and all its agencies to embrace informal economy workers at all levels of governance, economic planning, and empowerment.

As has already been stated, it is not the first time that such a calamity has befallen informal workers in Glen View Area 8 and the million-dollar questions remain:

What has been done by the authorities to prevent this from happening again? Why are the responsible local authorities and government departments failing to prioritise this important issue?  Or is it that someone in the higher offices is benefiting from the chaos and precarious conditions of informal economy workers at Glen View Area 8 Complex.

As players in the informal economy, we need genuine and sustainable answers to these questions. Time for piecemeal interventions are over.

Perhaps and necessarily so, it is also time to interrogate our social dialogue mechanisms as a country. I posit that, our social dialogue platform as a country needs to be redefined and restructured so that it embraces our germane socio-economic realities as a country.

How do we continue to have only three players (Organised labour, Government and Business) constituting the platform when statistics indicate that, even when combined the three fail to account for 10% of the population they purport to represent. - Samuel Wadzai -Viset executive director

 

Govt must implement ACHPR recommendations

THE Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZHLR) urges the government to widely disseminate the concluding observations and recommendations that were proposed by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) in the Gambia during the 69th ordinary session of the ACHPR. Government must adopt the recommendations and fully implement them.

During the 69th ordinary session of the ACHPR held from November 15 to December 5 2021, the ACHPR adopted its concluding observations and recommendations on the implementation of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (2007-19) and the initial report on the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (2008-19). These concluding observations and recommendations have since been uploaded on the ACHPR website.

In its concluding observations, the ACHPR acknowledged that several developments had taken place in Zimbabwe during the years under review. These include the extent to which government reported on the measures taken to promote and protect human and peoples’ rights, including the legislative, administrative and judicial measures to comply with Zimbabwe’s obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Charter) ratified by Zimbabwe in 1986 as well as the Maputo Protocol.

The adoption of the 2013 Constitution was commended, including alignment of some of the laws to the Constitution and establishment of some institutions as provided in the supreme law.

The ACHPR raised areas of concern and also made numerous key recommendations on the measures needed to strengthen the enjoyment of human rights in Zimbabwe, as guaranteed by the African Charter, the Maputo Protocol as well as other relevant human rights instruments. These included (but is not limited to) the following areas;

  • Ratification of outstanding human rights instruments
  • Death penalty, extra judicial killings and enforced disappearances:
  • Prohibition of torture
  • Freedom of expression
  • Freedom of assembly and association
  • Social, economic and cultural rights: concerns were raised on
  • Women and children’s rights:
  • Persons with disabilities
  • Older persons
  • Other concerns were raised on issues of statelessness - Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights

 

Artuz Nec meeting resolutions

THE National Executive Council (NEC) of the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, ARTUZ met on October 1 to take stock of the union’s programmes. The fight for a living wage was extensively evaluated and the flopping of the united civil servants job action of September 26 was discussed.

It was noted that;

  • Sister unions in the civil service did not fully commit themselves to the planned job action, only Artuz members, some FOZEU unions and some ununionised teachers took heed of the call.  Artuz members were therefore left exposed to possible victimisation which may paralyse the union;
  • The charged political environment towards 2023 elections, characterised by violence and labelling of Artuz teachers as agents for regime change has forced some members to withdraw from trade union work for fear of victimisation;
  • In the context of low civic consciousness, participation in job actions is just anger-driven and reactionary, so on September 26, the job action was called for a week post-pay day and anger had cooled down, teachers had already found ways of surviving under the extremely difficult conditions;
  • Primary school teachers were invigilating Grade Seven examinations and could not abandon learners at that critical point and Secondary School learners were seized with the burden of Continous Assessment Learning Activities, CALAs moderation;
  • A layer of elite civil servants is being created to strengthen “supervision” of the majority of civil servants. That layer is enjoying special perks and is being deployed to scuttle any collective job actions;
  • Government has divided teachers through the introduction of a layer of teachers who are promised to enjoy economic privileges, professional exceptionalism and social protection. The group named Teachers4ED is being used as a vehicle to bastardise trade unionism;
  • There was lack of comprehensive democratic consultations from the classroom;
  • The escalated repression, including arrests, abductions, suspensions, expulsions and salary cessations among others, has forced some teachers to withdraw from actively participating in legitimate trade union work;
  • The State media continues to misinform and, therefore, paralyse mobilisation initiatives;
  • The illegal and discredited National Joint Negotiating Council continues to be used to frustrate engagement and give false hope.

Generally the legal framework remains skewed against the workers. - Obert Masaraure -ARTUZ president

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