Source: New deal set to align prices, pay | The Herald 04 FEB, 2020
Zvamaida Murwira, Senior Reporter
Government, business and labour are on the verge of signing a social contract through which they will reach consensus on how to price goods and services, award wages and salaries that are aligned to pricing, and give incentives for productivity under the auspices of the Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF).
The signing of the social contract means business cannot arbitrarily increase prices of goods and services outside an agreed pricing formula, while labour will not unilaterally withdraw its services, with the Government expected to enact policies and incentives that stimulate productivity.
TNF – a platform which brings together the Government, business and labour – had been idle as underpinning structures were not fully constituted until the signing into law of the TNF Act by President Mnangagwa, who officially launched it last year.
The three partners will hold their inaugural meeting tomorrow during which the Government, represented by a high-powered delegation of seven ministers, will consider recommendations by a technical committee tasked to look at three clusters and how national consensus could be achieved.
The three clusters are economy, labour relations and social factors, and will result in the social contract that will go a long way in stabilising the economy by aligning prices and wages.
Some of the solutions identified to stabilise the economy, which TNF would consider, include currency stabilisation, wages policy and taming interest rates.
Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Professor Paul Mavima is expected to chair the inaugural TNF meeting.
Secretary for Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Mr Simon Masanga said tomorrow’s meeting will go a long way in seeking ways to stabilise the economy.
“TNF’s main committee will meet on Wednesday (tomorrow) to receive recommendations from a technical committee headed by Ambassador Nicholas Kitikiti which met in Kadoma last year,” he said.
“Arising from these meetings, we are heading towards a social contract which will stabilise prices. From the Government side, we will be represented by seven ministers, but we have 14 ministries that are relevant to TNF.
“Deliberations for tomorrow will see either the recommendations being adopted or referred back to the technical committee for further scrutiny. We now have a TNF Act and it means before Government implements anything within those clusters – economy, social and labour – it has to go through the TNF.”
Business representative Dr Israel Murefu said the technical committee had covered a lot of ground and expected robust debate during tomorrow’s deliberations.
“As business, we are seeking and expecting conversations and resolutions around economic stabilisation, currency stability, wage policy and eventually commitment towards the conclusion of a social contract and reviewing the Kadoma Declaration issues around country factors that hinder competitiveness of the Zimbabwean economy,” he said.
“We also expect parties to establish a common purpose and goal towards which everyone should direct their energy and efforts towards attaining.
“As organised business, we are keen to see the economy turn around and, therefore, we are looking at TNF as a last-ditch platform to collaborate with other key stakeholders to the forum, with a view to finding a win-win solution.”
A representative from labour, Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions secretary-general, Mr Japhet Moyo, said they remained optimistic that a solution to the economic challenges would be found through TNF.
He hoped the formalisation of the social contract through the promulgation of the Tripartite Negotiating Forum Act will lead to a fair and just remuneration framework for workers.
Business Council of Zimbabwe president Mr Langton Mabhanga said a social contract was feasible if all partners were sincere.
“If all partners are well-meaning and sincere, it can work,” he said.
“Government has already demonstrated its desire to have a social contract. You need consensus and convergence for ease of driving wheels of the economy.”
Labour expert Dr Godfrey Kanyenze said social dialogue had been achieved in other countries and Zimbabwe was no exception.
Zimbabwe was polarised, making the need for social dialogue more compelling, he said.
“A social contract encourages nation-building through dialogue,” said Dr Kanyenze.
In its 38th Cabinet Meeting Decision Matrix last year, Cabinet called for a social contract to address price increases.