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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 18 August 2015 41-63
PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Tuesday, 18th, August, 2015
The National Assembly met at a Quarter-past Two O’clock p.m.
(MR. SPEAKER in the Chair)
NEW MEMBER SWORN
- SPEAKER: Hon. members, can the oath be taken in silence please.
- KERENIYA UTA took and subscribed to the Oath of
Loyalty as required by law and took her seat – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] –
LEAVE TO MOVE SUSPENSION OF STANDING ORDERS
- 51, 134, 135(1), 139 AND 32(5)
THE MINISTER OF PUBLIC SERVICE, LABOUR AND SOCIAL SERVICES (MRS. MUPFUMIRA): Mr. Speaker, I seek
leave of the House to move that the provisions of the following Standing Orders be suspended in respect of the Labour Amendment Bill [HB 7, 2015]:- Standing Order No. 51, regarding the automatic adjournment of the House at Five Minutes to Seven o’clock p.m and at Twenty Five
Minutes Past One o’clock p.m on a Friday; Standing Order No. 134, regarding the introduction of Bills at least 14 days after gazetting; Standing Order No. 135(1) regarding the period within which the Portfolio Committees should report on Bills; Standing Order No. 139 regarding the Stages of Bills and Standing Order No. 32(5), the period within which the Parliamentary Legal Committee should report on Bills.
Motion put and agreed to.
SUSPENSION OF STANDING ORDERS NO. 51, 134, 135(1),
139 AND 32(5)
THE MINISTER OF PUBLIC SERVICE, LABOUR
AND SOCIAL SERVICES (MRS. MUPFUMIRA): Mr. Speaker Sir,
I move that the provisions of the following Standing Orders be suspended in respect of the Labour Amendment Bill (HB 7, 2015):- Standing Order No. 51, regarding the automatic adjournment of the
House at Five Minutes to Seven o’clock p.m and at Twenty Five
Minutes Past One o’clock p.m on a Friday; Standing Order No. 134, regarding the introduction of Bills at least 14 days after gazetting; Standing Order No. 135(1) regarding the period within which the Portfolio Committees should report on Bills; Standing Order No. 139 regarding the Stages of Bills and Standing Order No. 32(5), the period within which the Parliamentary Legal Committee should report on Bills.
Motion put and agreed to.
LABOUR AMENDMENT BILL [H. B. 7, 2015]
THE MINISTER OF PUBLIC SERVICE, LABOUR AND
SOCIAL SERVICES (MRS. MUPFUMIRA) presented the Labour
Amendment Bill [HB 7, 2015]
Bill read the first time.
Bill referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee.
Business was suspended at Twenty Five Minutes to Three o’clock and was resumed at Six Minutes to Three o’clock p.m.
ANNOUNCEMENT BY MR. SPEAKER
ADVERSE REPORT RECEIVED FROM THE
PARLIAMENTARY LEGAL COMMITTEE
- SPEAKER: I have to inform the House that I have received an adverse report from the Parliamentary Legal Committee on the Labour Amendment Bill (H. B. 7, 2015).
Committee: With leave, forthwith.
ADVERSE REPORT OF THE PARLIAMENTARY LEGAL
COMMITTEE ON LABOUR AMENDMENT BILL (H. B. 7, 2015)
House in Committee.
- CHASI: Thank you Madam Chairperson. In pursuit of its constitutional mandate as provided for in Section 152(3)(a) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, the Parliamentary Legal Committee met on the 18th of August, 2015 at 1130hrs to consider the Labour Amendment Bill [H.B. 7, 2015]. After deliberations, the Committee resolved that an adverse report be issued in respect of the Bill. In compliance with Standing Order 32 (3), members of the Committee, legally qualified and as envisaged by Section 152(2) of the Constitution, unanimously agreed and present were: Honourables Chasi, Samukange and Majome that the Bill contained provisions that, if enacted would violate the Constitution.
The adverse report was issued due to the following considerations:
Clause 18 (Transitional Provision)
The clause provides for the retrospective application of Section 12 of the Act to every employee whose services were terminated on three months’ notice on or after the 17th July. The Committee unanimously agreed that the clause violates Section 3 (2) (e) of the Constitution regarding of the separation of powers in that the judgement made by the Judiciary was correct at law and in seeking to nullify that by an insertion of the retrospective clause, Parliament will have violated the principle of separation of powers. Additionally, since the employers acted from the correct position at law, and having vested rights in terms of the Act, applying the retrospective provisions in the clause would be punitive on the employer and violates Section 56 of the Constitution relating to equal protection of the law.
Moreover, in the case of Walls vs Walls 1996 (2) ZLR 117, it was held that although Parliament has the power to legislate retrospectively, however, as much as possible, legislation should not be made in a manner which interferes with accrued rights. In this regard, the right accrued in this case relates to the vested rights of the employer to terminate on notice.
Due to the aforesaid, the Committee resolved on a majority of 4:0 to issue an adverse report on the Bill. I thank you.
- KEREKE: Madam Chair, thank you and good afternoon. I want to add views on the adverse report as tendered by Hon. Chasi. The interpretation of the Committee is that retrospective application of the Bill, as contemplated would be tantamount to nullifying a judgment by the judicial arm - that is incorrect. In fact, the judgment by the Supreme Court would not be nullified in any way, if it is the majority view of the hon. House that the consequences of the judgment had the effects of impairing the well-being of society, in particular the affected persons who deserve protection of the law.
Section 85 of the Constitution is so precise in its prescription that you do not need the fundamental rights to be violated per se, what is sufficient is that there be a demonstrable likelihood and a threat that rights are about to be violated. When you look at the consequences of what is happening, where a worker who would have stayed at a company for 20 – 30 years, all that effort is nullified at a stroke of the pen. That violates without any doubt, Section 51 - the right to human dignity of that individual, which is under Chapter 4 of the Constitution. It also even violates the right to access to adequate food and several other imperatives. It is the reason why the representative authority of Parliament was established, to adjudicate and realign laws in a manner that protects society and individual.
The Constitution also stipulates that any law, and this is important – any law, action or conduct that is at variance with the Constitution is null and void. What we are doing here is simply academic, to recognise a piece of law which contravenes the Constitution, the labour law in its ancient form which we are sitting here to adjust. The Constitution lays the foundation upon which we are to officially recognise the nullity of that piece of law which is in existence. I urge the House, the Committee to override the pronunciation of the four members who constituted a due arm of the legislature, the Committee and let the business progress, we digest the Bill on its merit. Please, let us protect the workers. Thank you.
MRS. MISIHAIRABWI-MUSHONGA: Thank you very much
Madam Chair. I think what we need to do as we consider the
Parliamentary Legal Committee Report, is not to mix issues. There are issues of the merits which are in the Bill which we need to debate. There is no-one who is arguing. I do not think that even the
Parliamentary Legal Committee is arguing against the issues of justice and fairness around the workers. Let us separate that. What the adverse report is talking to is the issue of retrospectivity. That is an issue that we need to deal with, not necessarily for ourselves because we can all go home and sleep and hope we have done well when we know that at the end of day, there are going to be court challenges to which that very worker that you are claiming you are going to be defending is going to sit in that court.
I am sad the Hon. Chinamasa is not here, each time we have debated issues here, the issue of saying you cannot come up with a law that is retrospective has always come up. I am surprised that today because we want to be populists and pretend to be doing something when we know we are not. Let me refer you to the Constitution, Section 70 (k), whilst it is talking about the issue around criminal law but it is very clear and states, ‘not to be convicted of an act or omission that was not an offence when it took place;’ I cannot beat a wife today when there is no law against beating wives and then come back and say, because now we have a law you can beat up a wife. It is obvious and clear. In my opinion, let us not create a situation.
No one from the Parliamentary Legal Committee including some of us that are talking about this issue of rule of law is talking about the merits of the Bill. When we get to the merits of the Bill, we are very clear it is an issue of justice and fairness. Let us go there, but let us not mix up the issue of justice and fairness with the issue of rule of law. For anyone who is a lawyer, to come up here and want to justify that you can generally do that- I understand that some people are saying, ‘we have done it in other circumstances.’ Doing a wrong thing does not mean you justify doing it. If it was done wrongly during the land reform and we fast tracked something, it does not necessarily say - [HON. MEMBERS:
Inaudible interjections.] -
THE CHAIRPERSON: Order! Order, hon. members. Order in the House. Order! Please, order! Order, hon. members. Order! Can the hon. member be heard in silence? If you have something to debate on, you will have your chance. - [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible
MRS. MISIHAIRABWI-MUSHONGA: It is only the Madam
Chair who can get me to sit down not anyone. The part that I am trying to buttress and emphasise is that we cannot do something because it was done before. If we passed things because we did not follow the procedure, it does not necessarily mean that we have to continue to do exactly the same thing even if we know that it is wrong. Madam Chair, the Constitution is a product of this very Parliament. It has never been different from any other Constitution because other constitutions, members do not participate in coming up with that Constitution. How do you justify coming up with a Constitution and you become the people who violate that very thing that you have come up with?
So, let us not box ourselves but let us learn to think outside the box. I would have thought that what we would have done today is to say that the Minister and the Parliamentary Legal Committee perhaps need to sit down and say, how do we begin to address this because it is a real issue that we have 20 000 people who were fired. So what we should be doing now is, what is possible under these circumstances and how do we redraft this to put it in a context where there is some relief that we can give to these people that have been fired. We try and do that by pretending that you are going to override. Like I am saying, I have no problem going with this, knowing pretty well that the issues of access and affordability to justice are a problem. You are going to get these workers going back to the same Supreme Court. Madam Chair, some of us know that one of the fundamental problems which we were going to raise when we were dealing with the merits of the Bill is that, it has raised some of the issues that we have raised before.
If anyone was to go back, what we have now is a Supreme Court ruling – the Zuva Supreme Court ruling. If you were to go back and have the people going back to a Constitutional Court - because as we are sitting in here, we are having people arguing on this particular point. So, whether you accept the issue of the adverse report or not, it has become a legal contentious issue. If anything becomes contentious, it means that somebody is going to have to arbitrate and somebody will have to make a decision and we know that that decision will have to be made in the same courts. We have four people who sat during the time of the
Supreme Court and they will probably add five more to make up the Constitutional Court and the chance is that the workers will not win this particular war.
So, in fact we have done nothing but like I said, if people want to pretend that they are doing good and have a good night’s sleep and pretend that they have done well for the workers, more power to you. But, as far as some of us are concerned, we should be able to listen to our legal people. We put that Parliamentary legal Committee because we believe that it should be able to advise us but if we are now sitting here and say we do not want because we want to be populists - more power to you like I said. But, as far as I am concerned, it is a war that we have not won and we are lying to the majority of those who are suffering – the workers. I thank you.
- CHAMISA: Thank you very much Madam Chair. I want to preface my contribution by saying that it is a very unusual position for me to agree with a Minister from Government. You know that I always differ with my Ministers here but on this one, I associate with the wisdom of the Minister in making sure that the element of remuneration for the affected workers is retrospective. I associate with the pronouncements of the Head of State to say that we must go back to retrospectively deal with the mischief of the law -[HON. MEMBERS:
THE CHAIRPERSON: Order, order in the House. Hon.
member, if you can please address the Chair?
- CHAMISA: Thank you Madam Chair. I am saying this Madam Chair, realising that there are circumstances where you have to distinguish what is distinguishable. We are a Parliament, the sovereign embodiment of the wishes and interests of the people and our duty is to go a little level higher in terms of how we look at our laws. We have the duty to make laws and the courts have the duty to interpret the laws. If the courts choose to interpret laws how-so-ever they choose to interpret them, we have a duty as the Parliament, being the repositories, custodians and reservoirs of the people’s interests to make sure that we safeguard those interests. This has nothing to do with votes because there is no vote to be taken nationally. It has all to do with what we fought for during the liberation struggle -[HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections]-
THE CHAIRPERSON: Order, order. Can the hon. member proceed?
- CHAMISA: Thank you Madam Chair. I am saying this advisedly and I may need to emphasise my point. What we are beginning to see is something that goes to the very heart of what our war of independence was all about. It goes to the very crux of why we lost blood in this country and why we had sweat and toiling in this country – protecting our own indigenous people against the vagaries of capital. When I debate this, I debate it with the full knowledge that I have not switched on political sides. I believe in the independence of our country, in the liberation of our country and I believe that what the Minister is doing is what is best under the circumstances. I would want to immediately correct my sister Hon. Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga who says that Section 70 (1) k – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible
THE CHAIRPERSON: Hon. member, address the Chair.
- CHAMISA: Okay Madam Chair. Section 70 (1) k of the Constitution which she relies upon to say you cannot do things retrospectively. With all due respect Madam Chair, it actually relates to accused persons and it has nothing to do with circumstances such as these which are sui generis cases. These are cases of a special nature wherein people have respected the common law position for such a long time but then they seem to sneak in their interests out of the interpretation that has been given by the court.
Parliament has a duty to make sure that our people are not given a bomb disguised as a cake and that our people are not given thorns disguised as roses. We want to make sure that we go to the bottom of this matter. In fact, I would have problems if any hon. Member of Parliament who has a constituency and people whom they represent were to say we are supposed to then deal away with retrospectivity because that is the necessary assurance of security that we can give to our people. I want to thank the Minister for that one. Hon. Minister, thank you for the wisdom to retrospectively apply it in terms of the law.
Madam Chair, in terms of the law, we are not violating any law. I have studied law competently and I can tell you one thing. Parliament, both in the Constitution and at common law, is allowed to make the law to the extent that we are not subtracting from any vested rights. And, I have no doubt that as Parliament, at common law, in terms of this Constitution, I would want anybody including even lawyers from another planet to come and convince me that there is anything that is being done that violates the Constitution. There is a common law presumption against applying the law retrospectively, but it is altered once the Parliament chooses to explicitly say a certain law has to apply retrospectively like we have done. So, for that simple reason, Madam Chair, I do not see any reason why we should have problems. This is not the first time we have done this. We did this when we dealt with our war veterans, when we adopted the War Veterans Act. We did this even in terms of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Act. If you remember what we did with Section 44, it was implemented retrospectively to September 2009. We did this with our Land Reform Programme because it was a noble project, in the public interest - [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – For us Madam Chair, to fail to see – [HON.
MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE CHAIRPERSON: Order, order please!
- CHAMISA: I genuinely believe Madam Chair and hon. members, that the effect of the Bill has been to expose our employees and workers, hardworking workers to the vagaries and vicissitudes of capital. We need to make sure that we do it in the interest of our liberation ethos and Section 55 of the Labour Act. We need to make sure that we defend our people – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – and we can only do so by adopting what Hon. Kereke has already said, that we need to just override the aspect of this adverse report. In fact, there is nothing adverse about it. We need to make sure that we confirm, in the interest of fairness and in the separation of powers that as Parliament, we continue to adopt that retrospective element.
Madam Chair, having said that, I believe that this will enrich the debate of those who are going to support but also dissuade and demobilise those who have been visited by a very dangerous feeling to go against our workers. Thank you very much – [HON. MEMBERS:
THE CHAIRPERSON: Order, order! I am calling for order
- CHINOTIMBA: I am not going to say much but what I want to say is that even as we pray to God, we say the God of Isaac and
Jacob, we do not say today’s God. So this issue of saying that we should ignore our workers because of other people who want to enrich themselves, I do not think it is good. I do not agree with what the Committee has tabled before us. We want a Committee that has eyes like those of the war veterans, who had foresight that people were suffering in the country and they fought for the people. All of us here are representing people and our issue here is that we want people to survive and not let them suffer when they voted for us. Most of these Members of Parliament, if we do not listen to what people are, you will not come back. Our workers – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.]–
*THE CHAIRPERSON: It is important that we listen to what Hon. Chinotimba is saying because he has the floor. Anyone who wants to contribute will get the chance and also when you are debating, you want people to listen to you. All the people up there want to hear what is being said. So you should lower your voices, I plead with you. If you want to talk, I think you can leave the House.
- CHINOTIMBA: What I am trying to say is that I am in agreement with what the Minister has done. I am representing workers who were retrenched after 42 years working for Meikles and then they were given three months notice. What the Minister is saying is that we should go back to those people so that they can be remunerated. What I can say to the Minister is that Meikles retrenched 500 people using this same clause. So what we are saying is that this Act should be amended.
Mbuya Nehanda said her bones shall arise.
We went, fought and took over from where they had left. The same applies with law. We want to fight for the people that suffered in the past so that they live well because most of us are getting allowances which our people out there are not getting. I am saying the Minister did a jobwell-done. Yes, there are issues that we should amend here and there, I do not want to say much but look at the Meikles issue. When we go to the 17th, people had been chased away even way back as in March. I think we should go back as far as February so that those people also benefit. That is what I want to say. I think we should go forward. I do not think we should go backwards.
Madam Chair, what I am really seeing is that our Members of Parliament this year, most of them are business people and do not want to help people because they are business people. They want workers to suffer. We do not want business people in Parliament. Your business should be done outside Parliament but when we are here, we are here to help the workers. We do not want to talk about your business. If it was where we come from, when in Parliament that is what we say down with. We want the workers to be well remunerated. Thank you Madam Chair.
- MANGAMI: I rise to also add my voice on the Bill. Looking at the report made by the Parliamentary Legal Committee, it takes us back and does not give us progress. We actually have got the majority of
Zimbabweans who are suffering or have been suffering for the past three weeks or so due to the law which we want to amend today. In fact, a good law is one which takes cognisant of the majority of people who have got problems. If it is only taking care of a few people, then it is not a good law. So I actually support the Bill brought to us by the Minister that when it is passed, then it works in retrospect because all those Zimbabweans who are now in the streets, it will compound our economic problems. So I suggest that we take it as it is and actually discard the PLC’s report. I thank you.
*MS. ZINDI: Thank you Madam Speaker. I want to support
Hon. Kereke, Hon Chamisa and Hon. Mangami’s position that as Parliament we should support this Bill, especially looking at our workers. If they have worked for 42 years and then they are told to leave their employment with nothing, it is very painful. Yes, I am aware that our economy is not performing well but …
THE CHAIRPERSON: Order hon. members, can the hon.
member be heard in silence.
*MS. ZINDI: Thank you Madam Speaker for protecting me. Let me go on to say that the reason why I am supporting this Bill, even if the Parliamentary Legal Committee is saying it is not in line with our Constitution, I know our economy is not performing well - but besides that, we should not hope for things to be well by chasing other people from employment. We should not then start working on things to be well because we would have placed ourselves on a wrong footing. If we want to save our economy we should not chase people away but protect the few companies that are left. I am saying this because the issue of coming up with this labour law has been debated for a long time but as Government, we have been slow in amending this Labour Act when things were alright at that time. What I am saying is that what has happened should be a lesson to Government, that in future we should not procrastinate but we should take into consideration what our business people are saying when it comes to the law.
We should amend our laws in time because this Labour Act was instituted immediately after the war because we wanted to protect our workers. We later realised that businesses could not function well or could be closed when it comes to retrenchment packages for 2 or 3 workers where a company employs 700 people. So, our Executive took a long time to amend those laws and that is why we are where we are today. With that Madam Chair, I want to say that as Parliament, we should support this Bill. How it is going to be done for people to get paid, I think it is another step but we should lay the foundation today. If you look at how people are being retrenched, it is not only the private sector but even our parastatals like ZBC retrenched 300 people, Zim Papers - 300 and that applies to the private sector as well. So, we should not be seen as a Government which is biting itself, yet we are the same people who are supposed to protect the people. So, I think we should support this Bill. I thank you.
- HOLDER: Thank you for allowing me to contribute to this debate. To apply amendments retrospectively will be unconstitutional as it is against the principle of legality.
THE CHAIRPERSON: Order Hon. member. I would like to remind Hon. members that we are not yet debating the Bill but the adverse report from the Parliamentary Legal Committee.
- HOLDER: Thank you Madam Chair. I think I will wait for the debate of the Bill.
MR CHAPFIKA: I am a bit concerned that as we debate, we seem to be confusing the constitutionality of the report from our experts. These experts comprise of a fully constituted Committee of Parliament chosen on the basis of their ability, knowledge and experience in the legal fraternity. I was actually surprised with the eloquence of Hon. Chamisa. For the first time in the history of MDC-T, Hon. Chamisa has found it fit to support the ruling ZANU PF Minister of Government. -
[HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections]-
THE CHAIRPERSON: Order, order hon. members. Order Hon,
- CHAPFIKA: I was surprised that Hon. Chamisa spoke eloquently in support. I say so Madam Chair because I just wonder whether Hon. Chamisa would be happy or would decry the collapse of industry. -[HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections]-
THE CHAIRPERSON: Order, order hon. members. Order Hon. Zwizwai, Order! I do not want to send you out.
- CHAMISA: On a point of order Madam Chair. I kindly ask the hon. member to debate the report and not the question please.
Chamisa is not before the House.
THE CHAIRPERSON: Order Hon. Chamisa! I think the mentioning of names is not new. Some hon. members were even referring to other hon. members who were debating – [HON.
MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections]-. Order please! Hon. Chibaya and Hon. Zwizwai, I think I am giving you the last chance. I was saying, if someone is referring to what has been said by another hon. member, I do not think that is a crime.
- CHAPFIKA: Thank you Madam Chair. I just hope that people will not eat into my time. I was saying Madam Chair, I do not know what would happen, whether Hon. Chamisa would celebrate the success of industry or he would celebrate if industries collapse. I view
Chamisa’s support with suspicion. I do not know because Hon. Chinotimba alluded to the fact that a worker was fired after 42 years of service. Do we know what that translates to, weeks in respect of retrospective payment and definitely, if there are more than four or 10 employees, such companies would collapse in the current environment.
Madam Chair, I do not think anyone is against protecting the worker. The worker has to be protected, but the constitutionality of this issue must also be observed…
- D. SIBANDA: On a point of order Madam Speaker. I think that it is important that we debate on the adverse report. The hon. member is now dwelling on debating the Bill.
THE CHAIRPERSON: I will remind the hon. member to speak on the adverse report but that does not give us reason to make a lot of noise.
- CHAPFIKA: Coming back to the adverse report, I am of the strong view that we respect the institution of Parliament and I think in principle, we are all agreed on this Bill, but what we need to do is to ensure that the Bill sticks to the original objectives of a win/win situation. I would urge the Committee to sit with the Hon. Minister to consider issues of variance and to clarify to the Hon. Minister areas of disagreement or constitutional conflict. Thank you.
- CHIBAYA: Thank you very much Madam Chair. I would like to urge hon. members to go to the third paragraph of the PLC report.
The third paragraph clearly states that ‘it was held that although Parliament has the power to legislate retrospectively, which means that the PLC is actually aware that as Parliament, we have got that right to actually legislate in retrospect. So I just rise here to advise hon.
members that there is no need for us to debate about this issue because the law actually allows this Parliament to legislate in retrospect. I thank you.
- NDUNA: Thank you Madam Chair. I want to add my voice on issues to do with applying the law in retrospect. It is very key
Madam Speaker and I want to take you to the role of Parliament. It is representative, plays an oversight role and also is in fact, a law maker’s position, which laws we make here in this august House. In particular Madam Chair, we should not be coming here to Harare to eat good food and to live lavish lifestyles– [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible
THE CHAIRPERSON: Order, order! If I call for order, I mean everyone, even those who are moving. Can we have order please? Let us have order hon. members.
- NDUNA: As I touch on those three roles Madam Chair, I want to take you back. I might not be a lawyer as Hon. Chamisa but I need to take you back to 1993 where a law was made on capital punishment on inmates that were on death row, to the effect that the waiting period after judgment was unconstitutional. As that law was amended, it was amended and only not backdated because it was capital punishment and the law only subsisted from the day that it was enacted going forward. Why do I say this? I think in all honesty, if we make a law and apply it in retrospect in terms of capital punishment we are shooting ourselves in the foot. However, for every other law, in my view, it is quite good for us to apply to it in retrospect. Why do I say this Madam Speaker? We are a Government for the people, by the people and with the people. If the laws infringe upon the rights of our people, we should burn the midnight candle and make sure we amend those laws. Why should we make laws that we cannot amend? Why should we be an august House? Why should we be called a Parliament that has those three roles?
Madam Speaker, the reason I believe we should apply this law in retrospect and make laws for the good governance of our people is with this in mind, that some of these companies that are busy retrenching our workers are listed on the London Stock Exchange, premised on the mineral rights of our country and now with the power vested on our land - the rights of our people are being infringed upon by companies that are listed outside the borders of this country, based on the minerals of this country – the minerals that are supposed to benefit the very people that are being retrenched today and in particular ACR who are now calling themselves Vast Resources and Brackenridge. These are companies that are listed using our God-given mineral resources and now because of a licencing permit given by the Minister under the Mines and Minerals Act, whose law we are supposed to be enacting ourselves, we now come here and infringe upon the rights of our people using the laws that we have enacted to empower the capitalists Madam Chair.
I say we should wake up and smell the coffee and protect the rights of our people because this Government is for the people, by the people and with the people. I thank you.
- M. KHUMALO: I would like to raise an issue with the Parliamentary Legal Committee (PLC). The issue is that in their brief which they have presented to us, they seem to favour one side – the side of the employer. I would have liked the Committee to look at both sides. If this clause that we are looking at protects the employees and deprives the employer, what did the previous clause in the old Act protect? It protected the employees and not the employer. They should have balanced these issues. I say so because from the 17th of July to 17th of August 2015, 20 000 workers have been dismissed, a number which is more than the people in my constituency. If those people are dismissed in one month, what about in a year? Can Parliament allow a clause in the Act that retrenches 20 000 workers in one month, this is wrong Madam Chair.
I would like the Parliamentary Legal Committee to look at these issues and balance them because the employees have the rights. Parliament represents both the employers and the employees but I think the employees were not considered by the Parliamentary Legal
Committee. I thank you.
- P. D. SIBANDA: I also rise to add my voice to the issue of the Adverse Report that has been given by our Parliamentary Legal Committee. Let me say that, I think in our post-Independence period, this is the second moment of madness that we have witnessed in the country. Therefore, it is important that as leadership of the country, we do not become emotional but, react in a manner that will create stability within the nation.
Dismissal of over 20 000 people is not something that this nation can ignore. It is something of so much significance that it should concern us. When I was looking at the submission by the Parliamentary Legal Committee, I realise that they said that retrospective provisions in the clause would be punitive on the employer and that it violates Section 56 of the Constitution relating, to equal protection of the law. Let me say that there is nothing punitive about the provision that is saying let us act in retrospect because the law that we are talking about is a law that has been in existence from 1985 and was amended sometime around 2005. We have never witnessed the abuse of that section like we have done in the last 30 days.
It could have been a vested right if there was a law that had said that the employer is allowed to fire on 3 months’ notice. Now, there is no such law which says so. What merely exists Madam Chair which was actually observed by the Supreme Court was merely a gap in the law that the law did not clearly enunciate that 3 months notice dismissal should not be done. Therefore, it is my belief that there is no right of the employer that would be violated by allowing this law - there is nothing
in this section of acting in retrospect that violates the rights of the employers. What we are simply saying is this, after the ruling by the
Supreme Court, there was this unprecedented action by the employers.
Therefore, what we are saying in this law is that can we try to return to the status quo so that as a nation, we can sit and then engage properly and see where we are going. We cannot do so at a moment when over 20 000 of our people are suffering because of an action in which they were not pre-warned that they are going to face such kind of a scenario. Therefore, I believe that it is proper that we return even against the ruling of the Parliamentary Legal Committee the provision that says this law should act in retrospect. I do not believe that the employer will suffer any prejudice at all if this provision goes ahead as it is. The employer does not suffer any prejudice because what we are simply doing is that let us return to the status quo and then if there is need for further engagement, the employer can still further engage with the employees and also the respective authorities.
ENG. CHIDAVAENZI: This Adverse Report is misplaced and I
stand here to reject it in its totality.
THE VICE PRESIDENT AND MINISTER OF JUSTICE,
LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (MR.
MNANGAGWA): Madam Chair, I wish to contribute on the on-going debate on the Adverse Report of the Parliamentary Legal Committee on the Labour Amendment Bill. I had the opportunity since I came into the House to read the Adverse Report of the Parliamentary Legal Committee. I am satisfied that the same report contradicts itself in a substantive manner. They acknowledge that the Legislature has legislative authority to make and unmake laws which I believe at that stage, it was a sober application of their minds to the law.
When they proceeded, they then applied themselves to the rights of one section of the social contract not to both. I, therefore, seek the indulgence of this House that we overturn the Parliamentary Legal
Committee Adverse Report and proceed to debate the Bill. I thank you.
THE CHAIRPERSON: Can I call upon the Chairperson of the
Parliamentary Legal Committee to respond if he has any response.
- CHASI: Thank you Madam Chair. I have listened very carefully to the submissions by members of the House and I will be so guided. Thank you.
Second Reading: With leave; forthwith.
LABOUR AMENDMENT BILL (H. B. 7, 2015)
THE MINISTER OF PUBLIC SERVICE, LABOUR AND SOCIAL SERVICES (MRS. MUPFUMIRA): Background,
rationale and progression of the Labour Reform Process. Government, since 2008, was seized with the process of harmonising labour laws in consultation with social partners and various stakeholders since the last amendment of the Labour Act in 2005. The labour law harmonisation process was driven by the need to create an enabling environment for socio-economic transformation, taking cognisance of the dynamics of the labour market.
During the process, the Cabinet Task Force on Labour Law Reforms met and mandated the Working Party of officials to ensure that the labour laws of the country are aligned to the spirit and purpose of ZIM ASSET; promote labour market flexibility; are not vague and do not have contradictory provisions. The Working Party of officials completed its assignment and reported to the Cabinet Task Force of Ministers. The report was endorsed subject to some minor amendments after which the meeting agreed to seek Cabinet approval of the harmonised labour law principles.
On the sidelines of the Cabinet Taskforce’s activities, my Ministry also engaged business and labour leadership to seek buy-in of the process which resulted in a tripartite agreement on the draft principles which Cabinet approved on the 11th of December 2014. The principles were premised on the historic economic blue print, ZIM ASSET, which seeks to achieve sustainable development and social equity anchored on indigenisation, empowerment and employment creation. These underlying principles will thrive under robust labour laws which seek to strike a balance amongst the interest of Government, business and labour. This is the intent of the purpose of the current labour law reform
– [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections]-
The Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment Number 20 of 2013 also guided this process as it provides for the…
MR SPEAKER: Order, order! Can the Hon. Minister be heard in silence please? This is a very important Bill and I would like hon.
members to listen very carefully so that they can debate constructively.
THE MINISTER OF PUBLIC SERVICE, LABOUR AND
SOCIAL SERVICES (MRS. MUPFUMIRA): The Constitution of
Zimbabwe Amendment Number 20 of 2013 also guided this process as it provides for the right to just, fair and equitable conditions of work. It also guarantees fundamental labour rights, particularly under Section 65. It is necessary to ensure that these constitutional provisions are clearly elaborated in the various Acts of Parliament that gives effect to workers and employers rights and obligations. Aligning constitutional provisions and the labour statutes, certainly creates an environment for harmonious industrial relations where the rights of all parties are guaranteed.
As a member of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Zimbabwe also has an obligation to domesticate and give effect to conventions that it has ratified as required in terms of Section 34 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. Domestication of these International
Conventions will ensure that Zimbabwe is in concordance with the International Community. This will cultivate a conducive environment for investment promotion that will enable Zimbabwe to achieve economic growth and reposition the country as one of the strongest economies in the region and Africa as envisaged under ZIM ASSET.
The major issues arising out of the tripartite consultation – it emerged during the consultations that certain constitutional rights, particularly the right to collective job action and the right to maternity protection should be reviewed. The right to strike is a fundamental social right. However, it is not absolute but it is limited by the subjective right of others in so far as such limitations are prescribed by law and necessary in a democratic society for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others or for the protection of the public interest, national security, public health or morals.
On the right to maternity leave, Cabinet observed that it is essential for the State to provide mechanisms to support employers to ensure that female employees fully enjoy their maternity rights and those enterprises remain viable in line with the spirit and purpose of ZIM ASSET. To this end, my Ministry is working on establishing a Maternity Protection Scheme which will enable female employees to enjoy their maternal rights without overburdening the employer as we strive to balance interests of social partners in the labour market.
In as far as the principle of streamlining retrenchment provisions is concerned, the social partners compromised on the principle to set retrenchment packages for all workers. It was realised that when the retrenchment process commences, parties will spend long hours trying to negotiate a package. After thorough closed debates amongst social partners, it was then agreed that this was hindering productivity hence a minimum package should be set. Without a minimum package as is currently the case, employers are of the view that they potentially carry an unlimited liability in the event of retrenchment. In further discussions, it was also agreed that those companies which can demonstrate inability to pay the minimum package will be taken care of by the proposed “exemption clause”.
Cabinet deliberated on this proposed amendment at its 25th meeting and resolved that we emulate regional best practices, therefore the package of one month per every two years served was prescribed.
In the spirit of facilitating recovery and competitiveness of fledgling companies, the right of the employer to engage workers on fixed term contracts was retained. However, the existing provisions to protect workers on fixed term contracts are maintained. It was also agreed that employees engaged on fixed term contracts for a period beyond a specified period should enjoy the same rights and benefits as permanent employees.
The Government had intended to set an alternative Dispute Resolution Centre so as to streamline dispute resolution. However, due to financial constraints, the proposal has been shelved indefinitely. The responsible department will separate roles of labour officers administratively.
Additionally, the Labour Amendment Bill took into consideration the Cabinet Resolution to incorporate amendments which dealt with the Supreme Court ruling of the 17th of July, 2015 in the Case of Zuva Petroleum versus Nyamande and Donga SC 43/15. The Supreme Court bench ruled that the employer has a right under common law, to terminate a contract of employment on notice just like an employee does. Pursuant to this ruling, the labour market witnessed masses of job layoffs which were threatening national security and eroding the purpose of the Tripartite Negotiation Forum (TNF). An urgent TNF meeting was convened but employer representatives were not present to submit their views. They however submitted written views two weeks after the Bill had gone through Cabinet.
Additional amendments sought to address the gaps that had been exposed by the Supreme Court bench by regulating the right of an employer to terminate contracts of employment on notice and providing retrospective relief to affected employees. This ruling had serious ripple-effects in spite of endless pleas to employers to exercise restraint in the foregoing. My Ministry is conducting a survey to inform the nation, the extent of the job layoffs, in order to come up with a sustainable resolution. It is indeed Government’s will for the employees who were affected to find some source of livelihood and continue to support their families. All relevant ministries have been engaged and challenged to pull resources together to ensure cushioning of those affected by this national crisis. The developments above necessitated coordinated Government effort to expedite tabling of the Labour Amendment Bill 2015, which is the reason why the House has been urgently summoned.
In light of the foregoing, my Ministry has finalised the drafting of a Labour Amendment Bill incorporating all the principles referred to above. The Bill, as reiterated above, was tabled before the Cabinet Committee on Legislation on the 30th July, 2015 and subsequently in Cabinet on the 4th August, 2015.
The proposed regulatory framework will ensure social justice, democracy and fair labour standards at the work place. The pursuing amendments have taken into consideration the evolving nature of labour laws vis-a-vis macro-economic trends.
It is in view of the above sequenced developments that I hereby submit the Labour Amendment Bill for consideration by the National Assembly. Mr. Speaker, I therefore move that the Bill be read a second time.
MRS. CHIKWAMA: INTRODUCTION
Pursuant to its legislative oversight role, the Portfolio
Committee on Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare met on
17th August, 2015 to analyse the Labour Amendment Bill (H.B. 7, 2015). It was not practicable for the Committee to consult the public and other key stakeholders because of the urgency of the labour relations situation in the country, which had prompted His Excellency, President R.G. Mugabe to summon Parliament to consider the Bill in terms of Section 110(2c) of the Constitution.
The Labour Amendment Bill is a step towards aligning labour laws with the Constitution, in particular, Section 65 on Labour Rights. The Bill is a response to massive unilateral dismissals of workers by employers on notice without any packages on the basis of the common law position. In addition, the Bill seeks to promote productivity and competitiveness of local industry.
COMMITTEE FINDINGS AND OBSERVATIONS These were some of the findings and observations of the
The Labour Amendment Bill seeks to create a balance between employers and employees rights necessary for the survival of both parties in the current economic environment. Clause 4 amends Section 12(C) of the Labour Act and repeals the common law as a basis for termination of employment as it explicitly outlines reasons for termination of employment without benefits.
Compensation of workers who were retrenched on notice on or after 17th July, 2015 in terms of Clause 18 of the Bill is a welcome development. The Committee observed that although this cannot undo the physical and emotional suffering these workers were exposed to, it would be a stepping stone towards the future and would set a good precedence. However, the Committee is of the view that compensation should be extended to workers dismissed on the same grounds before
17th July, 2015.
Clause 5 of the Bill which deals with Retrenchment and Compensation of Employment on retrenchment introduces a minimum retrenchment package of not less than one month’s salary wages for every two years of service is a positive development. This provision recognises the difficult economic environment in which industry is currently operating under and is equally responsive to the needs of the employees who offer their services to an entity have to be paid off. The Committee also noted the need to review the minimum retrenchment package to not less than one month’s salary wages for every year of
service in the future.
However, the Committee is concerned that Clause 5 (3) contradicts the idea of a minimum retrenchment package to be paid by the employer. The Committee is of the view that the provision for application of exemption is against the principle of social justice and might be manipulated by employers. Furthermore, the Committee is concerned about the provision that if an Employment Council or
Retrenchment Board fails to respond to an employer’s application within two weeks, it is deemed to be an exemption from paying a retrenchment package.
In addition, the Committee observed that Clause 5 only covers the minimum retrenchment package and is silent about severance and relocation allowances, which leaves these at the discretion of employers.
The Committee further noted that Clause 6 of the Bill strips away the employee’s right to representation which increases his vulnerability in relation to the employer. Therefore, the Committee feels that this provision would not add value to the labour relations in Zimbabwe.
The Committee hails the empowerment of the labour officer to make a ruling on a dispute of right (Clause16), a departure from the previous situation where this could only be effected by an arbitrator. This development would accelerate the conclusion of labour cases backlog accumulated over the years due to shortage of manpower. The Committee however, observed that the situation could be further improved if the Bill extends the labour officer’s jurisdiction to determine disputes of interests.
The Committee recommends:
- Speedy and comprehensive alignment of laws to the
Constitution to avoid recurrence of crisis situations, such as the recent nationwide job terminations which derail economic development and cause unnecessary discontentment.
- Compensation should be extended to workers dismissed on notice without retrenchment packages since February 2015.
- The retrenchment package should not be less than one month’s salary wages for every year of service rendered by the employee.
- Clause 5 (3) of the Bill should be amended to read as
‘…failing which response the application is deemed not to have been granted.'
- Both the labour officer and arbitrator should be empowered to
preside over disputes of rights and interests.
- That the Bill places the responsibility of determining the severance, relocation and related allowances in the Works Council and Employment Council.
The Committee is of the view that the above recommendations will assist the Government to come up with a wholesome package to amend the country's labour laws in Zimbabwe. I thank you. – [HON.
MEMBRS: Hear, hear.] -
- MPARIWA: Thank you hon. Speaker. Let me begin by thanking my Chair Hon. Chikwama, of the Portfolio Committee on Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare. Indeed, you see that due to time constraints, your Committee was at difficulty in terms of conducting its business because it was business unusual. However, I want to believe that it puts the reflection in terms of the observations of your Portfolio Committee.
You will note that in paragraph 3 (4) of the report, there is mention on the principle on social justice as a violation in terms of the proposals of exemption by the Minister in the proposed Bill. The hon. Minister highlighted to the House that we ascribe to the International Labour Organisation (ILO). If this was to stay in the proposed Bill, this will be against the ILO Declaration on Social Justice of 2008. It is my humble submission that the Minister re-looks at this particular provision in the Bill, because the Committee deliberated on this point for us to come up with the recommendation that we came up with.
The number 2 point is on the rushed process in terms of the Bill, because hon. Speaker, you will see that it affects the human face. When 22 000 workers are affected, then the nation is burning. So, we also did extra-ordinarily the work of the Committee in order to come up with this particular report. The firing of the 22 000 workers has actually brought panic, confusion and pain into the lives of many. The piecemeal approach in terms of coming with the Bill that the Minister has done is appreciated. However, hon. Speaker, I think the Minister also
mentioned that there was consultation with the social partners in terms of coming up with a good law, that is also harmonization.
A wholesome package would not have caused damage because I want to believe that there are several other urgent provisions in the current Labour Act that need urgent attention. I will go quickly to
Section 18 of the Labour Act 28.01, which is a violation of workers’ rights, particularly women on maternity leave, I quote, “On production of a certificate signed by a registered medical practitioner or state registered nurse, certifying that she is pregnant, a female employee may proceed on maternity leave, not earlier than 45 days and not later than the 21st day prior to the expected day of her delivery.” It goes on to say, “A female employee shall be entitled to be granted a maximum of three periods of maternity leave.” This means she can only have three children when she is serving under one employer and a certified nurse actually has to acknowledge or prove to the employer beyond reasonable doubt. This is also very urgent in terms of what we would have wanted for a good law on urgent issues.
Hon. Speaker, this takes me to the next point on Section 65, concerning labour rights. Section 65 cannot be taken in isolation without including Section 65(3), which proposes that workers have to be granted a right to collective job action, in other words, strike, picketing or demonstration, without any notice to the employer. You cannot warn your enemy that you want to fight them otherwise they will be ready to crush that particular fight. I think these are also part of what the Committee considered as sections that also needed speedy amendments so that the rights are not given in bits and pieces or a piecemeal approach. I make this contribution fully aware that the Minister worked very hard in terms of coming up with this particular amendment. However, I want to believe that in future, when we do amendments, they must be brought in full.
That takes me to the next point hon. Speaker, that the Minister mentions the consultation process in terms of getting on board the social or tripartite partners. I also want to believe that she takes into cognisance that tripartite forum of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 144 compels the partners to consult each other on the negotiating table and come up with one thing. At the end of the day, we do not want any complaints coming to Parliament to say such and such organisations have not been consulted. There is also need to take on board those issues which would have been agreed as a social contract, into the Bill so that everyone’s view is included.
The last point I want to mention hon. Speaker is just a warning. I have said, I have always said it and I will say it again today. We belong to ILO and it was not easy for us to occupy the Vice Presidency of the
ILO. It was embarrassing in that Chamber when everyone was against Zimbabwe for us to occupy a certain space. I personally would not want to see Zimbabwe being ridiculed because they have not followed the talk or the recommendations of the ILO Commission of 2009 – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear] – Paragraph 589 highlights that Zimbabwe committed offences in terms of violating workers’ rights through interference, which is also against Convention 87, which deals with freedom of association, assembly and the right to collective bargaining.
Hon. Speaker, I would want to believe that the Minister always consults and refers back to the ILO recommendations to see which point we are on because they were about 15 or 11, I cannot remember. However, I want to believe that we actually need to clean up the mess so that we are a clean country in terms of implementation and processes of our laws. Once they are in a tripartite nature and inclusive, no one will doubt the product that will come out of that. I think Government interference in trade unions was one key factor that was highlighted in the ILO Commission of Inquiry in 2009. That was actually interfering with the business of the trade unions. I want to believe that the Minister would want to leave a record in terms of legacy on whether she would have done the best during her tenure. I thank you hon. Speaker – [HON.
MEMBER: Hear, hear] –
- SPEAKER: Order, order! Because there is so much interest in the debate, I have allowed the Chairperson and the Deputy unlimited time. In terms of Standing Order No. 52, I shall now limit time for debate to six minutes.
- NDUNA: Thank you Mr. Speaker. I will try and run down quickly. If it went by me, I applaud them and they would read as follows: No employer according to Section 12(4a), shall terminate employment on notice. Mr. Speaker Sir, it would only encompass two entities. The second one would: As provided for, employees whose employment was terminated on the 17th of July shall be entitled to one month salary for the two- years served. As alluded to by our Chairperson of the Labour Committee, I would also ask that, that be reviewed upward to read; one month pay for every year served Mr. Speaker Sir – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear] – so that we will not be taken to court for damages.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I also propose that a period for which the affected employers could pay the affected employees be set at a minimum of six months so that the employees, after not having received their retrenchment packages do not seek litigation to cite unfair dismissal.
I want to touch on the issues to do with corporate governance or accountability as regards the issue to do with Workers’ Council and Workers Unions. This is applauded and I think it is a self auditing system that the Minister has incorporated. I also want to add my voice on that particular point to say there are innocent unsuspecting members of the public who are not members of these Workers’ Unions that charged 35% in subscriptions and if these entities are not audited, we are shooting ourselves in the foot as representatives of the masses.
On the same note, I want to say that the process of aligning the
Labour Act with the new Constitution has started. Mr. Speaker Sir, in 2005 the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) was going through challenging times. However, because of mitigatory factors and issues that they put together in order to turnaround the entity - they actually declared a dividend in 2007, after turning around the entity, by 2006 they were now down to 40 days in backlog of salary instead of 12 months wage bill backlog. So, after having had this judgment, NRZ which is on a turnaround path has on its own also retrenched 498 employees. I think they are just trying to go with the tide. They have got an opportunity to turn around their department using the Chrome ore that is now being exported – if we move the Chrome ore through NRZ alone, making it the sole transporter for the 30 million tonnes.
Mr. Speaker Sir, CMED, Air Zimbabwe, ZINARA, ZBC and in particular I want to touch on other companies that we hear have been protected for a long time; that are listed on the London Stock Exchange and are linked to INNSCOR, Meikles and are using our mineral wealth in order to be listed on the London Stock Exchange but are now utilising that leverage and power to dis-enfranchise the workers, our masses. This should be condemned wholeheartedly. So I want to say in the same vein we want Government to be proactive in the future after the enactment and the amendment of this law. There should be a social plan put in place after we have enacted this law and these amendments. Government should be proactive Mr. Speaker Sir, in terms of re-deployment and retraining of employees in the future who are going to be retrenched in order to prepare them for future employment or to prepare them to be employers in the future.
Mr. Speaker Sir, this immediate reaction of the employers has caused unnecessary suffering in terms of the ability of former employees to pay for accommodation, school fees. Also in terms of the urban to rural migration, you will find that a lot of the workers that have been retrenched are tracking back to the rural areas. It is not right Mr. Speaker Sir, and if we do not resist this we are shooting ourselves in the foot. We should go back -[AN. HON. MEMBER: Time up]- to the tripartite negotiating forum after realizing that if we do not go into convergence with labour, with the Government and with the employees, we will have such occurrences in the future. I thank you Mr. Speaker. – [HON.
MEMBERS: Hear, hear]-
- CHIDAVAENZI: Thank you Mr. Speaker. Thank you very
much for allowing me to contribute to this landmark birth. I want to thank His Excellency the President of Zimbabwe Cde. R.G. Mugabe for, clearly and boldly stating that the law must serve the people and not the people to serve the law. – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.]-
The people are supreme and as they are the makers of the law, so is social justice. I concur and Zimbabweans concur with the President’s statesmanship and leadership. Mr. Speaker Sir, it is an obvious testimony and demonstration that we have a Government freely and wisely elected and constituted to serve the people of Zimbabwe. I would also want to thank the Supreme Court Bench and everyone involved or implicated in the Zuva case because without them, the snake under the bed would have remained unnoticed and unexposed. However, my greatest shock Mr. Speaker Sir, emanates from the silence and passive attitude demonstrated towards this matter by the so called Labour Movements. I must publicly register this astonishment. I am sure they have a hidden agenda to use this as a campaign tool during the forth- coming 2018 General Elections. This is cheap, senseless and insensitive and I am sorry it has died a still birth - yafa yaka loader. Only the opposite works: serve the people and they will vote for you.
On the Bill, I hereby seek your attention to the detail on Section
18, Transitional Provision. It must be applied effectively and wholesomely to all affected employees whose services were terminated on a three month notice as from February 2015. This is the reason why we are all here. It is very clear that the Government has set its foot and demonstrated that it is Government for the people and by the people. I thank you Hon. Speaker Sir.
- SPEAKER: Hon. Chifamba, I am being guided here by the list from the Whips, he is not here.
- KHUPE: Thank you very much Mr. Speaker Sir. As I stand before this House today my heart is bleeding. My heart is bleeding because we are sitting here today to talk about firing of workers instead of us to be talking about hiring of workers. – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.]- From the onset I would like to put it on record that as the MDC, we do not support the Supreme Court Judgment of the 17th July 2015. We do not support the common law right to terminate employment on notice. We do not support the powers being given to the Minister to interfere with the running of trade unions and employment councils. We do not support the powers being given to the Minister to interfere with collective bargaining outcomes. I know that these issues are going to be debated extensively but I just wanted to put this on record.
Mr. Speaker Sir, this Bill does not comply with the Constitution.
Section 65 of the Constitution on Labour Rights clearly states that
‘Every person has the right to fair and safe labour practices and standards and to be paid a fair and reasonable wage’. Except for members of the security services, every person has the right to form and join Trade Unions and Employee or Employers organisations of their choice and to participate in the lawful activities of those unions and organisations. Except for members of the security services, every employee has the right to participate in collective job action, including the right to strike, sit-in, withdraw their labour and to take other similar concerted actions. Every employee is entitled to just, equitable and satisfactory conditions of work. Except for members of the security services, every employee, trade union and employee or employers’ organisations has the right to engage in collective bargaining, to organise and to form and join federations of such unions and organisations.
Women and men have a right to equal remuneration for similar work. Women employees have the right to fully paid maternity leave for a period of at least three months. Mr. Speaker Sir, this Bill does not speak to these issues.
According to the 2014 Labour Force Survey by ZIMSTAT, 94.5% of all jobs are informal in Zimbabwe. I am saying this because it is important that we start talking about real issues here. The real issues that we are supposed to be talking about are production and productivity. That is the only way we are going to be able to recover our economy – HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear] – As Parliament we are supposed to be discussing about growing the cake. The sad reality, however, is that instead of us talking about the growing the cake, we are talking about firing of workers. This Bill is there to reduce the remaining 5.5% formal jobs.
As I said earlier on, our major focus should be building the economy so that there is competitiveness and sustainability in this economy – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear] – By so doing we will be able to create jobs. Right now, youths who complete their education have no job opportunities. They complete their education but cannot find a job anywhere. This is not healthy for youths, this is not healthy for us as Parliament and for the nation. The formal sector is shrinking day by day Mr. Speaker Sir.
In 2004, the same Labour Force Survey indicated that 80% of all jobs are informal. In 2011, the survey again said, 84% of all jobs were informal. Now, the same survey is saying 94.5%. The formal sector is dying every day. We have now created the informal sector. Zimbabwe is highly informalised right now and informalisation does not facilitate capital accumulation. There is no ways the informal sector can operate without the formal sector. Hence, I am saying let us talk about real issues here.
Mr. Speaker Sir, with urban poverty, fired workers are not going to be able to sustain a living. They will not be able to pay their rentals, electricity and water bills. They will not be able to pay school fees for their children, health etcetera. When we talk about development, it is the ability of a country to satisfy the people’s needs using its own resources. The needs are food, shelter, health, education and clean water amongst others. In order for people to have all these needs, they need jobs. As the MDC, this is why I said we do not support the judgement by the Supreme Court. Right now we are saying all those fired workers must be reinstated – HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear] – Failure of which they must be adequately compensated and not this two weeks’ salary in a year or whatever.
This is serious insult to workers. As MDC we are calling for dialogue. We want Government, labour and business people to sit down and come up with a social contact because partners have been complaining that their inputs were not included in this Bill. After consultations, they are complaining that if they look at this Bill, none of the issues they raised are included in this Bill. This Bill has nothing for the workers. The Bill does not taken into consideration the ILO requirements. There is no alignment of the Bill to the Constitution.
In conclusion, let us not deal with the symptoms. Let us deal with the root cause of these problems – HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear] – Let us stop patching the trousers. Let us come up with new trousers. Let us create job opportunities for our youths. – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections] – As MDC we are not in support of the judgement by the Supreme Court. We are saying let all the workers who were fired be reinstated, failure of which they must be compensated adequately. I thank you.
*MR. CHINOTIMBA: Thank you Mr. Speaker. I would like to start by thanking His Excellency the President, who refused to be used by people who were saying that the President has no powers to change the law. That is when I realised that we had a real President of the country – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections] – There are some people who do not believe that our President is knowledgeable. They are always complaining. But now they have realised that we have a President because he said that the Bill should be brought to Parliament for debate, which is why we are here. So, I would like to thank the President for a job well done. Please do not subtract my time; I am just thanking the President.
I do not have much to say. I would only want to zero- in on where I want the Bill to be amended in line with the conditions of workers. If ….
THE MINISTEROF SMALL AND MEDIUM ENTERPRISES AND CO-OPERATIVE DEVELOPMENT (MRS. NYONI): On a
point of order. There is an hon. member who is eating in Parliament.
She is eating in Parliament and that is unparliamentary – [HON.
MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections] –
- SPEAKER: Order, order if an hon. member has to chew something because of medical reasons, we have cases of diabetes. The hon. member can quietly sneak out and go and do the chewing outside.
*MR. CHINOTIMBA: Thank you Mr. Speaker. I wanted to say
when the drafters were drafting this Bill; if you look at Clause 17, concerning statutory benefits on termination of employment, to all employees directly or indirectly – [Laughter]- which means that there are people….
*MR. SPEAKER: Hon. members, English is our second language, I think Hon. Chinotimba has really tried.
*MR. CHINOTIMBA: Mr. Speaker, I once said in this House
that all the laws should be written in Shona to cater for people in the rural areas. If it is in English, people who think that they are educated will laugh at us yet they are stealing from us. If you look at that clause, the way it has been defined here, if you go to the end of the amendment which reads, “Section 12 of this Act applies to every employee whose services were terminated on three months’ notice on or after the 17th July, 2015”. So, what I am saying is that the Minister was not aware that employees’ services were terminated in February. Like I said earlier, Meikles terminated 500 work permits and judges used the same judgement which was done on the 17th July, 2015. Mr. Speaker, this should apply from February because we 500 employees lost their jobs and went with nothing. I have the paper work here. The paper I am holding now is of a Meikles worker who had worked for 17 years and went with nothing. I think the judge saw what Meikles did and that is exactly what the judge did. So, what I am saying is that the drafters should go back to as far as February on this clause. The judge should also incorporate all workers who were affected.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I am just looking at clauses which I want to be amended. If you look at Section 12 (c) of Chapter 28:01, the principal Act is amended by the repeal of Section 12(c) and the substitution of the following sections; Mr. Speaker, 4 (a) and 4(b) are in conflict. They are contradicting each other. So, we do not know which is which now. That clause should be amended. I am happy that the person who is responsible for the welfare of the workers is here. It does not mean anything because he is contradicting himself.
Mr. Speaker, as workers leaders, we do not agree with that. It should be clear. Also, contract workers were left out. This is only referring to the permanent workers but contract workers were left out.
Where do contract workers come in? It has to be clear.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I also do not agree with the Committee on two months’ salary. Surely Mr. Speaker, at 42 years a person is sent home because the employer is now afraid of paying because that person is reaching retirement. If you add 28 years to 42 years, it now becomes 70 years, so that person is due for retirement. Suppose someone starts work at 42 years, that person is due for retirement. So, they calculated that they will pay more, so they will just dismiss people and give them two months’ salary. I think this should be relooked, that if someone reaches 42 years at work, that person should just finish well but two months is nothing for our workers. This is like a mockery to the workers. I think they should do the calculations looking at 85% of the salary.
Mr. Speaker, for example if we take Harare City Council, those who work at the sewages, for them to be given two months’ salary, it is not fair, already they would have been affected health-wise.
- SPEAKER: Order, order, your time is up. Thank you.
- MUDEREDZWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir, for giving
me this opportunity to contribute to this important debate. First and foremost, I want to thank the Minister and the Executive for responding timeously to an event that has caused a lot of suffering to the workers. Mr. Speaker Sir, laws are made, amended or repealed. That process is common, this is what is happening.
Of course there are issues that are being raised by the opposition party to say we should be talking of hiring instead of dismissing people but the situation that we are in is a situation whereby we are trying to solve the problem. The interpretation of the law only comes when the courts read what the law is made out of. This is what happened and the Government is responding to a happening that was adverse to the workers. Mr. Speaker Sir, I had little time to go through this Bill but I have realised that it is well couched. The employers are not being driven to the wall. They are given leeway to be flexible. It is either you are going to retrench or you are going to ensure that you reduce the wage bill or you are going to do something around the work place such that the worker and the employer are all happy.
I want to raise the issue of the psychological contract that should exist between the worker and the employer. When a worker joins an organisation, the perception is that the worker is going to serve his or her working time with that organisation. We have received evidence in the august House of workers who have been employed for more than 40 years, serving one company and after that, they are just given a pittance and dismissed, it is unfair.
Mr. Speaker Sir, the psychological contract also relates to a situation whereby workers give most of their energy to the employer and the company will be growing. Right now as we speak, the companies that are retrenching, most of them are companies that are prospering. If they were closing shop we would say the employer is stranded but they are retrenching instead of closing shop. It shows that there is progress or prosperity within those companies - [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Yes, I want to say so because some of the issues that are being raised to say all the companies started in 2009 when we started to dollarize are not true. Some of the companies were buying assets and it is out of those assets that they should also recognise the workers.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I know that management in the respective companies are saying the best way of cutting costs is to retrench or dismiss, it is not true. There is also a leeway for employers to reduce their salaries and benefits so that they can also move at par with the workers. In my view, this Bill is noble. It was well timed although late but I am convinced that the Minister is going to ensure that there is a redress of what happened unfortunately, in the past. I am strongly behind this Bill and am urging the House to support this Bill. – [HON.
MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – I thank you.
- SPEAKER: Hon. members, if there is very little you may add to the debate, do not be tempted to be irrelevant or being tempted to repetition. Can we have fresh thinking on the Bill? Otherwise, the Chair will be forced to ask a member to sit down if you repeat yourself, in terms of Section 106 of our Standing Orders.
- CHIMANIKIRE: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I want to add my voice to those who have debated before me. Having the experience of being in the trade union movement as a leader for 17 years; I was a secretary general of the union, I never imagined that I would actually witness genocide being perpetrated against workers in this country. -
[HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
Mr. Speaker Sir, when one looks very closely at the causes of what has occurred now, one would notice that there were omissions – who was responsible for the omissions? Yes, I take cognisance of the fact that we had to be urgently summoned to come before Parliament in order to debate this issue but was it necessary to follow that route or we should have properly put our laws into place and made sure that all statutory instruments were being read, observed and understood by those in the office?
I want to go to the exact points that I wish to advise or suggest to the Minister to be followed. One, when you are looking at retrenchment packages, you first of all have to look at severance packages. In other words, formulate what you look at as a package. A severance package will be six months’ salary then followed by the two weeks or one - two month salary per each year of service. It cannot just be two weeks of salary for each year of service. There has to be a lump sum and at the same time, other benefits like medical aid payment for a year after one has terminated their services with the company that has to be taken into consideration.
From there, we have to look at also the issue of transportation. If you are coming from Harare and you live in Zvimba for example, you need bus fare and a lorry to carry your goods to go there because you no longer have a monthly income that supports one’s needs. Mr. Speaker Sir, the other issue that we have to look at is the issue of ensuring that you cannot have an exemption clause in this Bill when actually that company has not filed for insolvency. Why are we trying to say he is a very sick person and that person has not even gone to hospital because they are not sick? We cannot start having tsiye nyoro for a company that has not gone before the law to prove that it is insolvent or it is getting broke. I believe that the law must actually be observed and we must make sure that we do not put exemptions.
The Vice President of my party MDC-T, in her presentation, looked at areas where there are violations of the Constitution, violations in terms of the powers that the Minister is asking this House to endorse. You cannot suspend an elected executive of a trade union in order to replace it with an administrator - no ways, because the Constitution provides in Section 65 that you have freedom of association and freedom to organise. I would like to quote you Mr. Speaker, when you called us for a seminar in the Senate Chamber; you said as legislators, we are there to defend the Constitution. That is exactly what I am trying to say right now, to defend the Constitution.
The Minister cannot be empowered to, when the Constitution says you have a right to form a trade union, to elect your leadership, right to collective bargaining, then the Minister comes in to say in the interest of the public, you cannot have your 50% salary increase, what is that? We are no longer defending the Constitution if we allow this to go through in this Bill. If the Minister is empowered to suspend the executive of a trade union. We are no longer being lawful as legislators if we allow this Bill to go through with that type of content. - [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] –
The other issue that I would like to touch on is, we cannot allow an unconstitutional amendment. There has been an inference both in the public newspapers including The Herald, that employers are to complying with the pronouncements made by the President during the Defence Forces Day so that we can attract foreign investors. Mr. Speaker Sir, I wish for my olden days when I would call for strikes that would last for fourteen days, because you cannot tell me that while there is no investor who is coming in to invest you want to fire me because you want to attract the investor to come into my country. How do you have children when you have divorced? You cannot have children with your wife when you are divorced your wife. - [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.]- You should be talking about talking about reality Mr. Speaker, I cannot because my wife says we can have twins after she has left my house. This is what some of the employers are suggesting in this country and it is pathetic. So Mr. Speaker, I would like to urge the Minister that in coming up with this Bill, to also remember that the President in his speech when he came to the opening of this current session which has just been added an extra day, indicated that he would want to see the alignment of laws with the new Constitution to which I was also a scribe.
So, in coming up with this Bill, let us not forget that in the background of what we are doing, there is that requirement which the President has insisted upon. Let us not just pay lip service to that. We should ensure that we do not add certain clauses here that we will have to edit when it comes to the actual alignment of the laws with what we actually have as the constitutional provisions.
Mr. Speaker Sir, when we look at it, there are certain areas that have been omitted in making some of these amendments. However, we would like to urge the Minister to avoid interference in the running of labour. We should maintain the independence of labour and at the same time, we should ensure that the final benefits that go to the workers when they are retrenched is that they should be able to be equitably and fairly rewarded for the services that they would have rendered. We are not looking at this Bill as individuals but as breadwinners who have trailers of people behind them. So, let us not look at one person but maybe at ten, fifteen or twenty people. I thank you Mr. Speaker.
- MLILO: Thank you Mr. Speaker for according me this opportunity to air my voice and my views on the proposed amendments of this Bill. I would like to take this opportunity to thank and salute the fellow Minister for her swiftness to the plight of the workers. One month for every year served equivalence to a salary as the minimum retrenchment package to be agreed upon by the Works Council or the
NEC and sanctioned by the Retrenchment Board … -[HON.
MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections]-
- SPEAKER: Order, order. Hon. member, did you say fellow
Minister? If you did, withdraw that.
- MLILO: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir, I will withdraw my earlier statement, that was a slip of the tongue. The intended statement was, I would like to thank my fellow parliamentarian, the hon. Minister for her swiftness in responding to the plight of the workers during such a time of madness. I would also like to thank His Excellency the President, Cde. Robert Gabriel Mugabe and the Politburo of ZANU PF for their swiftness in responding to this plight of workers which therefore, led him to recalling Parliamentarians to come and debate on this Bill. Hopefully, to get a willing formula as well for the proposed amendments.
However, I would like to point out some grey areas and some more technical areas with regards to the proposed amendments. The first one being the one month for every year served equivalence of salary as the minimum retrenchment package to be agreed upon by the Works Council or the NEC and sanctioned by the Retrenchment Board seems to take the view that this only covers NEC level employees but does not cover managerial employees. The Act needs to address this level of employees in order not to create grey areas in the provisions. This needs to be explicit.
The second one is the issue of fixed term contracts which have been rolled over a certain number of times becoming employees whose contracts are without limit of time by default when contracts have been renewed a certain number of times, being left to any season where council has to decide, creates a problem.
- CHIBAYA: On a point of order Mr. Speaker. It is not the hon. member’s first time to speak in this august House. That is not his maiden speech. So, he is not allowed to read. I thank you Mr. Speaker -
[HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections]-
- SPEAKER: Order, order! May the hon. member please refer to the notes and speak to the Chair.
- MLILO: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I brought these notes because I wanted to have a point of reference. The third point that I would like to be addressed is the relevant practitioners of this Act are normally the human resources managers that are hired by companies.
So, with this in mind, there is need for the creation of a law, a chartered human resources practitioner whose advice should be recognised at law, for companies and should it be incorrect there should be accompanying sanctions to this as has happened with other professions. The other professions that I would obviously like to take notes from are the
Chartered Institute of Accountants, ZIMA and Lawyers’ associations.
They are strict and they maintain a vigilant attitude to malpractice. So, if we are to effectively have human resources chartered practioners, this would lead to a situation where our employees are protected because these human resources practitioners will therefore advise management accordingly. Even though that management does not take heed of the advice, this would create problems with management as management or owners of the businesses will face sanctions. Then law provisions for exemptions is made where contracts or a company cannot afford to pay retrenchment packages. Before exemption is granted to protect the employee, consideration should be made for a payment plan.
Last but not least, there is a need to pre-define what continuous employment is, especially for those over-contracts which will eventually make the employee one with a contract without limit of time by default. When renewed several times, this is necessary where we now need to retrench the employee. Do you just consider the last contract signed or do you consider the current contract signed?
Then, Section 93 of the Bill must not allow the labour officer or the designated agent to be both the judge and prosecutor in matters as this is capable of breeding corruption. The Act should allow the complainant to make submissions to the Labour Court or High Court themselves. I would like to thank you Mr. Speaker.
- KEREKE: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir, because of time, we need to be brief, so I lay on the table a full text of my contributions. I want to first contribute by indicating that in any country, socio economic and even a political stability can only be guaranteed if society perceives existence of reasonable fairness in the distribution of national incomes and the means of production across the different social classes.
Generalized perceptions that one class of society is unfairly treated and much worse, is being exploited, typically breed and feed conditions for socio-political tensions that can spin out of control if not addressed swiftly.
Zimbabwe is a country that was born out of a spirited armed resistance against colonial subjugation, which in turn was underpinned by abusive laws meant to suppress and oppress the majority indigenous African people. Our preoccupation with on-going sub-struggles for total economic independence, sovereignty on the global geopolitical scene and convergence in respect of key developmental ideals such as the
United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) has, however, diverted the country’s attention away from riding ourselves of residual remnants of colonial laws that are against our aspirations as a people.
It is reality that several statutory provisions, most of which are from the colonial era, and some from our young independent past are at variance with the letter and spirit of Zimbabwe’s new Constitution. The wide-spread job-losses that have been triggered by the 17th of July, 2015 Supreme Court ruling are just but a tip of the iceberg on the legislative reforms the country has to undergo for the preservation of good order and universal constitutionalism in our nation. Government, through Parliament, must therefore, without further delays, institute deliberate cleansing processes to weed out statutory aberrations in our laws. Doing otherwise would be to foster accidents in waiting that would come to hurt our cohesive existence as a people.
The Need for Composure, Due Process and Far-sightedness
There is need for Parliament to carefully avoid the risk of reviewing the Labour Amendment Bill, 2015 with a preconceived mindset of blind affirmation, whipped by current emotions, albeit justifiable, to stop the job losses but without due considerations on the long-term implications of the suggested reforms. It is my considered view that Parliament carefully goes through the Labour Amendment Bill, 2015 with a steady mind-set that sees beyond the current compulsions to finding a quick-fix solution to the on-going job-losses.
Long-term peace and stability of the country very much depends on the progressiveness of the tripartite relations between and among labour (workers), Government and employers. This tripartite symbiosis forms the bedrock of any society’s peace and social well-being index. The Labour Amendment Bill, 2015 has the following areas of concern which Parliament should resolve to amend:
- a) The presumptive contemplation in the Bill that an application by an employer to retrench without paying packages on the allegation of inability to pay be deemed as approved if not responded to within 14 days is a clear biased enclave for potential abuse of workers. The right of workers will be better protected in a fair manner if the law explicitly makes it a requirement that all necessary due processes be done and an explicit response to the employer’s application be tendered within the stipulated timeframe. Workers cannot be subjected to potential ejection from employment without compensation in events where obtuse inefficiencies on the part of the adjudicators lead to no responses in the
14 days (Section 5(3) in the Bill).
- b) Section 5 (2) of the Bill effectively sets the floor package at two
weeks’ salary for every year worked (one month’s salary for every
two years worked). This level is a harsh threshold against the welfare of workers. It appears this level has been set under emotional persuasion from Zimbabwe’s current stringent liquidity constraints but without due regard to the absurdity of the minimalist provision when the economy’s transitory setbacks are overcome. Laws must be set for perpetual application well into the future beyond the sway of monetary transitory realities. The sting in this proposition does, in fact, intrinsically plant undesirable conflict between and among workers, Government and employers. If not corrected, this very clause has the capacity to ignite hectic states of perpetual protestations by labour as they seek to secure and ring-fence their eroded interests.
Government must create the institutional framework that safeguards society’s interests at the individual/household level. The toil (both physical and mental effort) which workers devote in the productive matrix of society has undeniable annuity factors into the country’s investment capacity. That is, current productive efforts by workers in a given job directly contribute towards that company/entity’s and the country’s future growth and investment potential. Stated differently, there is a positive hysteresis factor; a positive self-propelling multiplier factor arising from each current productive effort by labour which forms the basis and reason for consideration of one’s length of service when determining severance packages. Under these considerations, engraving two weeks pay for each year worked into our laws would be an unacceptable diminution of the pivotal role labour plays in the wealth-creation process for our nation.
It must be noted that most companies do fail as a result of successive extractive dividend policies by their directors which only benefit shareholders at the expense of the inter-temporal sustainability of the productive entity into the future. The end result of such extractive dividend policies is that companies are left shaky, with slim prospects of robust future growth, leading to current labour levels becoming unsustainable. Companies that have a culture of building organic
internal reserves have capacity to withstand headwinds that may arise from market-wide systematic risks.
It is for this reason that in adjudicating any waivers on payment of packages the law must prescribe that considerations be done on an employer’s history on dividend policy; variety of assets on the balance sheet, and key decisions by the employer (in the case of Government as the employer) falling outside the control of workers. There must be a shared burden of responsibility between workers and the employer.
Positives in the Bill
The Bill’s transitional provision that this contemplated law be retrospectively effective from 17th July, 2015 is very welcome. The Bill also outlaws child labour by elevating the age cluster of labour from thirteen (13) years to sixteen (16) years.
The last point is to do with constitutionality of the provisions we legislate. Certainly, the issues around the validity of freedom of association and trade unionism that are embedded in our Constitution, we need to fine tune the Bill to ensure that there is consistency. Equally important, the gender issues within the Constitution, do we save money by saying women on maternity leave should not be paid. In my view, that will not be constitutional because it is a constitutional right to have freedom to form the family unit. Therefore, we need to just ensure that our laws are consistent with the constitutional provisions. Thank you.
*MR. CHIBAYA: Thank you Mr. Speaker, for according me this opportunity to add my voice. I want to touch on an issue which has not been touched in this House. Mr. Speaker, this Bill is not clear about the worker whose employment has been terminated not according to the law. A worker who has been dismissed unlawfully from work, what damages are they entitled to?
Secondly, looking at our workers in this country for those who would have worked for many years, then all of a sudden their contracts are terminated and given two weeks salaries per year. What we are saying as a nation is that we no longer want workers. A worker who will have worked for such a long time and is only entitled to two weeks salary per year, it is very unfair and that’s labour market flexibility and is anti-worker.
Many people will be nearing the age of retirement then they are given those meagre benefits. I do not think it is fair. I plead through you Mr. Speaker that our Minister looks through the report of the
Committee, that they should take it seriously and that the worker should be entitled to one month’s salary per year. If they can support that, it is okay and is now between the employee and the employer, but as our Minister, I think you should amend the law so that those who are chased away from employment should get at least one month’s salary for every
I know as our Minister who listens very attentively, showing signs of listening to what we are saying. Madam Speaker, – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Sorry, Mr. Speaker. I was focusing on the Minister, so am really sorry, please forgive me. Minister, if you can help us that all our labour laws should be aligned to the Constitution which we are using right now. I do not see us facing the same challenges as we are facing right now.
In conclusion, I would want to say to our Minister, if we can leave those trade unions to do their work and watch from a distance without interfering with the work of the trade unionist, I think we will have done our work very well. Let me say that when we leave this House without rectifying the Bill, I think we will be in trouble with the people that we represent. So we should all unite so that the worker is given a reasonable package because if we leave this room within two weeks, I think we will be in trouble.
I would like to thank our President, Cde R.G. Mugabe for handing over the Chairmanship of the SADC to Khama. I thought he was going
- SPEAKER: Order, the final comment made by Hon. Chibaya is derogatory of the Head of State and the Standing Orders are very clear on that one. As a long serving Member of Parliament, you are aware that the Chairmanship of SADC or AU is rotational upon expiry
of one year, so there is no question there of someone sticking to a position. I ask you to withdraw that statement.
*MR. CHIBAYA: Thank you Mr. Speaker, I withdraw my statement.
- MGUNI: Mr. Speaker Sir, the leaders that always care for the people – that generation is fading slowly and going away. I therefore thank the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe who called us in today with the people in mind. He has the people in his mind, so let us applaud him.
If we look at this Bill on Number 5, it says “any employer who wishes to retrench one or more employees is to give a written notice of his or her intention to the Works Council”. I heard Hon. Khupe mentioning that the Bill must allow freedom on the workers and the councils of which this Bill complies with, because it stimulates talks between the Works’ Council and the employer to come to an agreement before any third party comes in. Although the Minister mentioned the tripartite alliance, the Minister is the rightful representative of Government to make the tripartite alliance and Parliament, because the Minister is an MP also. So, she must go there representing the laws as a legislator and representing the Government. Therefore this Bill is flexible to the two negotiators, the employer and the employee. I really plead with the people who did not notice this to take note of that.
We also note that Hon. Khupe rightfully said we need to deal with the causes and not the symptoms but the causes of all these things are sanctions. Therefore, we need to deal with these sanctions that are suppressing every company to function properly in Zimbabwe. That is where we have to start from before we go to any other matter. Yes, the Bill may not have covered all our expectations but as a fundamental document that wants to rectify the problem that has risen just recently, it is adequate enough for us to approve this Bill and then we follow the rules of amending as we go on, because we have to protect the workers that have lost their jobs. I want to thank you Sir.
*MR. TARUSENGA: I only have one point that I want to talk about. Our problem began when we opened the Second Session of Parliament, when we had the issue of the Export Processing Zones being introduced into our economy. This issue goes hand in hand with the issue of employees who do not enjoy their rights fully. What I would want to say is how it affects our nation. If we follow that route, our nation loses a lot, but our Bill right now is trying to fix the problems that have arisen and maintaining the things that are there. The people who were dismissed will not get much money but what happens is that our Government will lose a lot from such kind of attitude and behaviour. About 25,000 workers lost their jobs. They are the ones who used to bring revenue to the Government at 22.5% that we get from workers as pay as you earn, that means that the US$246 minimum salary that came up as per the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe salary survey. As you know 20% is contributed towards pay as you earn, the Government loses a lot of money, of approximately US$1.2 million. In my constituency, as an example, there is only one clinic. So by allocating US$100 000 per clinic about 12 clinics could be built in my constituency.
Another problem that I want to talk about concerns disposable incomes from these 25 000 people who were dismissed from their jobs. That is considering that after statutory deductions the employee would take home US$180, then the value added tax at 60%, the Government would realize has revenue would amount to US$4.5m. That means value added at US$4.5m would result into US$675 000.
Therefore, I was saying to myself if this money could be used in my constituency to people with children on BEAM at US$30 per month for each child that means this money could be used to pay fees for 22 500 children per term. However, this is impossible if we legislate laws that make our Government lose so much money. I would like to thank the Speaker for allowing me to make this contribution that speaks on the effects of not growing the cake. This is all I wanted to prove to the people that such moves could make our Government lose a lot of money.
MRS. MISIHAIRABWI-MUSHONGA: Thank you very much
Mr. Speaker Sir. Like everybody else, let me just be short and to the point. Mr. Speaker, this particular Bill that we are talking about is about justice and fairness and I think everybody agrees with that in terms of the principle of what we are discussing. My only problem with it and I know that the hon. Minister is a Christian, so I am not going to go through the entire document that I had written here for her, but I am going to give it to her so that she can go and read.
When we go to Proverbs 12:18, it speaks about the words that we give, that they either can break or they can heal. What I find missing hon. Minister and with due respect, that even as we are talking about the 20 000 to 25 000 of these workers that have been fired, the majority of those are actually our Government workers. Hon. Minister, you are sitting here and you yourself are the Minister of Media, Information and Broadcasting Services. It is ZBC that has fired these workers, so what is it that is happening between us as Government? How do we as
Government inflict a particular pain…
- SPEAKER: Order, order. Will the hon. member address the
MRS. MISIHAIRABWI-MUSHONGA: I am sorry Mr.
Speaker. I usually forget to look at your eyes. It is Government that has the largest number of those workers and the reason why I am raising this is in connection with the exemption clause. Why the exemption clause is problematic is, for example, if you look at ZBC, NRZ and all these parastatals, if you were to audit them they would declare losses. So for example, a person from NRZ will go with this exemption clause and basically say what do you want me to sell - the train wagons that are by
So it means that even though we have included and we seem to have dealt with the workers, we really have not dealt with the fundamental issues, which is why Hon. Khupe’s point is critical in that whilst we can spend a lot of time debating this particular Bill and talking to these issues, this is not the issue. The issue is the economy. We can and I will repeat what I said earlier on Mr. Speaker, we can do whatever we do now so that we can have a good feeling and it is okay. We can walk out there and can be seen as the people who are standing for the workers, but if we do not deal with the fundamental issues, it is a problem.
If I go back to Proverbs 12:18 that I gave to the hon. Minister, I would have thought that in her remarks as she was starting, the first thing would have been to apologise, to say I am sorry. We are sorry that it took us 35 years to get where we are today. We are sorry that as a Government, we are the ones that are inflicting a lot of pain on the workers. We are sorry that we have not done enough as far as the TNF is concerned because this would have been a consultative process and we would have been far off better than what we are today. That we spend a whole day debating why and where and changing provisions and things like that, is as a result of that we were caught napping. We were caught napping on the job and we need to start taking responsibility. The one mark of leadership is to take responsibility. In asking Government to take responsibility, I too am taking responsibility. I am taking responsibility that I sat as a Cabinet Minister from 2009 to 2013 and at that particular point in time, we may have said it but we did not address it. So all of us should take responsibility, but the first point is to say I am sorry Mr. Speaker but I did not hear it being said.
Mr. Speaker, in conclusion again, Hon. Khupe picked on it. The companies that we are talking about are minimal. The companies we are talking about are a very small percentage, so we are hiding behind the skirts of a few companies instead of addressing the fundamental issues. So even if we address this and I can assure you hon. Speaker ; if the Lord gives us the grace to be alive, we are going to sit here and we are going to see a real reeling of an economy. We are going to see a complete stopping of this economy. Yes it is bad, but we have not seen the worst because we refuse to deal with what the issues are. Hon. Mashakada brought to this House an issue around the economy. When we were raising it in this very House no one wanted to listen. In fact, people wanted to shoot down that particular issue, but it was the one addressing the fundamental issues. Today, we should not be sitting here and having this particular conversation; we should have dealt with it a long time ago.
Just a few issues of clarification hon. Minister; perhaps you could indicate in your response, issues to do with accessibility and affordability to justice because I am concerned that we are still going to have court challenges and I am concerned that if we have not dealt with the issue when it goes to the labour court, employees will not afford to have a lawyer. So, we will still have employers with top notch lawyers who will be able to argue their cases. So perhaps, that issue would be important to raise. What is it that we can do? I do not know, but I am asking her where it goes.
The second issue is the practicability of what we are doing today.
Let us assume the President ascends to this Bill on Thursday and on a Friday, it is law. What does it mean for the 20 000 to 25 000? Do they merely walk back into these companies and say, “hallo I am Priscilla I am back”. These people made the law and they will sit. Mr. Speaker, if it is okay and that is what is going to happen, I will applaud this House because we would have done a historic issue and I would love to see them going back to NRZ and ZBC, sitting there and no one raising an issue. Mr. Speaker I do not know about Choppies, I have never been to
Choppies and I cannot speak on behalf of Choppies – [Laughter] – [MR
MPHOKO: No! Choppies did not fire anyone]-
- SHAMU: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir, for providing me this opportunity to contribute to this debate and in that vein, congratulates the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Services for having ably steered this Amendment Bill through this House. Let me take this opportunity of expressing our profound gratitude to His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Commander-in-Chief of the
Zimbabwe Defence Forces and also the First Secretary of the Party,
ZANU PF and its President and in that vein …
- SPEAKER: Order! There is nothing wrong with whispering to your neighbour. Please can the hon. member be heard in silence? The hon. member in a red tie, I cannot recognise your name properly, please also observe the rules.
- SHAMU: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir, before I was interrupted, I was saying in that vein, I would also like to thank the Central Committee of ZANU PF. I would also want to thank the Politburo of the party and also the National Consultative Assembly which met two weeks ago to debate on issues concerning this country and especially focusing on the issue of the workers in Zimbabwe. ZANU PF gave direction to us all on what needed to be done. I would like to pursue an ideological angle with regards to what His Excellency espouses. He speaks of us being called upon always to speak the truth, the truth based on facts and those facts giving birth to realities.
I want to say Mr. Speaker Sir, through this Bill, the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Services and indeed some of the colleagues who have spoken before me have endorsed that vein of thought through which we shall see born out of this Bill, measures that will help to make sure that this country overcomes the economic difficulties that we are facing today. I say so because when you talk of labour, you are not only talking of the social aspects of life but you are also talking about the economy. Our economic recovery can really be achieve through upholding common objectives, there is need for unity of purpose. Sound economic needs to be underpinned on sound political decisions. This decision that has been taken not only by ZANU PF as a party, but through its Government, Cabinet and its Cabinet Minister, is living testimony of the truth of that vein of thought. I believe that in this manner, we see a future full of success, greatness for Zimbabwe and indeed an opportunity for us to be able to exploit our human and natural resources, God-given as they are for the benefit of our country.
Recently, we had the Chinese National Development Reform Commission in Zimbabwe and among other issues discussed about, you could see a vision of massive job opportunities in this country. This is where Zimbabwe is headed to in a few months from now. Why do I say so? They spoke of development in the dualisation of major roads, rehabilitation of national railways, water and energy. Those are all job creating projects. It is not all gloomy. In fact, what it speaks to is a vision that we have all shared and is now being seen to be a living reality that our economy and country can indeed survive as a people without the West, hence our Look East Policy is now paying dividends. The economy is on the rebound.
In conclusion Mr. Speaker Sir, in supporting this Bill, I would like once again to emphasise the fact that unity of purpose is necessary but may I call upon the Minister to ensure that workshops are held not only for our workers, but also employers so that they are educated on the various laws that govern labour issues in this country, peace and harmony prevail in order for us to fulfill the goals of our objectives. I thank you.
- MARIDADI: I am going to talk about the social aspects of what has been happening in the past one and half months or so ever since the landmark court ruling. It is quite suspicious that when the Minister of Finance and Economic Development came to this House, he spoke about 40% reduction of the Civil Service salary bill and following hard on that pronouncement is this avalanche of workers being dismissed without any compensation. I wish to also talk about the attitude of the Executive. The Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Services who is also the Acting Minister of Information came out in the media and said Government was against firing of employees and yet ZBC and Zimpapers were terminating workers on exactly the same conditions that the Minister was saying Government was not happy about.
If you look at ZBC and Zimpapers, they have terminated the jobs of shop floor employees. Management has been left intact. The memorandum that accompanies this Bill seems to suggest that retrenching or sacking of employees seeks to promote productivity and competitiveness in the local industry. So, it suggests that when you fire employees, then the company becomes competitive because the salary bill has been reduced. I was looking at both Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation and Zimbabwe Newspapers, if you look at their salary bills, top five employees of Zimbabwe Newspapers earn the equivalence of about 65% of the company calculated on costs to the employer.
Looking at their perks alone, the first thing that Zimbabwe Papers pays before even paying salaries at the beginning of the year is school fees of the senior executives’ children. Each executive is entitled to four children who go to a private school. One executive would have one son who goes to Peter House at US$5 000 per term, another son who goes to St Georges at US$3 600 and daughter who goes to Chisipite Senior at US$3 600 per term.
So, at the beginning of the year this executive in school fees alone walks away with US$12 000, that is the equivalent of salaries of about
24 middle level employees per month. That same executive’s salary would be US$10 000 but there are so many perks that are hidden in there which are not taxable; holiday allowance, entertainment allowance, a company car. One of the representative allowance benefits et cetera, one can get in a company is a company car because it is serviced by the company, fueled by the company and you have a company driver. Those executives have not been touched, in all these companies that have retrenched.
Once upon a time, I was vice chairman of Zimbabwe Broadcasting
Corporation Workers’ Committee, and I was saying if a company is not performing, do not look at the cleaners, look at the chief executive. The company does not fail to perform because of the cleaners; it fails to perform because of the chief executive. I would have wanted the Minister to say Zimbabwe Newspapers; if you are going to retrench you have to retrench the chief executive first, the company is failing to perform because the chief executive is not giving leadership and proper strategic direction that ensures sustainability and competitiveness.
Mr. Speaker, when I was doing form one my Mathematics teacher told me, ‘if you want to pass your Ordinary level Mathematics you must know easy equation.’ For you to be able to know easy equation there is a presupposition that you must know division, addition, subtraction and multiplication, the law of BODMAS When you are doing equation, there is one which is called quadratic equation, when you are solving a quadratic equation you are given two statements. You are given a first statement, you must solve it as a hypothesis, when you get a result, you juxtapose it in the second statement and then you get an answer.
What is important is that when you get the second answer you say, therefore, the answer for the first statement is this one. Let me come to why I am saying that analogy. Before I give that analogy, when I was coming to debate this, I was listening to the radio, I am a D.J and once a
- J., always a D.J. I was listening to Oliver Mutukudzi’s album which
he produced in 2005.
- SPEAKER: Thank you Hon. D.J.
- MARIDADI: Yes, thank you –[HON. MEMBERS:
Laughter] – the album is called Nhava it was produced in 2005. On that album there are 9 songs, and I thought they were very instructive for purposes of my debate. There is a song which is called Ninipa which means please be humble. There is a song which is called Rizere mhepo which means full of air, full of nothing. There is a song which is called Tiregerereiwo which means please forgive us and that is what Hon. Misihairabwi-Mushonga was saying. The Minister should have at least apologized to the people of Zimbabwe.
Now, there is a song on that album which I want to talk about, it says Handiro dambudziko “that is not where the problem is”. You have a headache, but the headache is only a symptom, there is an underlying disease inside you. Why we are debating this Mr. Speaker, I do not even want to leave this podium before I talk about leadership. So, I say because of leadership ineptitude that is why you have retrenchments, you have an economy which has been informalised to the tune of 85%, you have a bloated executive. The United State of America with a population of 320 million has only 15 ministers, our country with a population of 15 million, 4 million of whom are living in the diaspora because of the economy conditions back home, has more than 60 ministers, deputy ministers, provincial ministers and all that.
If you are serious about cutting costs Mr. Speaker, let us start with the executive, the Cabinet that is where the problem is. I am saying we have debated everything and therefore, the problem we have is a problem of leadership is. We can talk about everything else until the cows come home. If the leadership of this country remains stuck in the past, and remain with their heads buried in the sand, we have a problem. Leadership must come up and start to give direction. Mr. Speaker. His
Excellency, the President when there was this avalanche, all he said is;
‘The law is in ass’ that is what he said.
- SPEAKER: Time up.
- MARIDADI: They need provide...
- SPEAKER: I will extend it.
- MARIDADI: Thank you Mr. Speaker. I want to rewind – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections] – Mr. Speaker, what I am saying is that time has come for true leaders to stand up and give this country direction. Lastly, I would like to congratulate the President, for handing over power of SADC to President Khama.
- SPEAKER: Hon. Maridadi, are you contradicting the
Chair’s ruling against Hon. Chibaya.
- MARIDADI: It was a genuine congratulatory message because I saw it on television. I am genuinely congratulating the President. The time had come for him to hand over the power on rotational basis and I am congratulating him. As a patriotic
Zimbabwean I felt I would congratulate – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections] –
- SPEAKER: Hon. member, the Chair is very much schooled in the language of English. You are being very sarcastic. In terms of Standing Order Number 93(d), you are trespassing in terms of not respecting the authority of the President. We cannot allow sarcasm in this House. I ask you to apologise.
- MARIDADI: I apologise to you Mr. Speaker and I apologise to His Excellency. Thank you.
- T. J. DUBE: Hon. Speaker, I think this debate resembles a people representing the bourgeoisie and the proletariat; the proletariat being the workers and the bourgeoisie being the employers. We need to examine that we are not partial in what we are debating because whichever way we go, it will affect us tomorrow. The fact is that we know that there has been a spate of closure of companies in the past few months. What has been the cause of this? The cause of this is that the employers had no leeway; they had no other way except to close the companies instead of making their companies go forward that is finding a way to assist their workers to remain at work. So, now it means that as long as we look at the workers problems only and the proletariat side, we still come back here and find that we need to make more solutions before we can find a real solution and more efforts before we can find a solution. What I mean is that I have been working on the side of an employer myself and I know the problems the employer has and how the worker feels. If we really do not look at both sides equally, we will find that more closures of companies will take place before this year comes to an end. We must be very careful in all our deliberations because if we only look at the workers side, the employer will be forced to close his company because there is no lee-way for him, no other way he can do business.
We are not just looking at salaries that must be given but we are looking at the whole company. Will the company ever continue to exist if the owner feels that he has no option but to close it because he is not able to meet the requirements of the law? At the same time, we must know that since we have passed this law in retrospect, it is now becoming law. The lawyers will tell me that if you pass a judgment, then in future it will be used as a reference that whatever they do, they will come back and say in such a year Parliament passed this law and in retrospect, it became a new law. It supersedes the law that was passed by the Supreme Court. Thank you.
- MAJOME: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir for this opportunity to debate this very important historical Bill that has caused Parliament to be summoned from its recess. Mr. Speaker Sir, firstly, we must start at the very beginning and I want to support what was said by other hon. speakers, especially Hon. Khupe. For us to solve this problem that has caused our workers….
- SPEAKER: Hon. member, Standing Order Number 106
says, we should avoid repetition, and if it has been said then it has been said.
- MAJOME: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir, but I need to preface my points on that issue because I have been bringing my points in light of that. Mr. Speaker Sir, in order for us to solve this problem that has hit our workers, we need to address the failure of Government to promote a policy framework for job creation as well as preventing job losses, this is the reason why we have been summoned back to Parliament. This year 2015, when a worker loses their job, the crisis is all the more because there are no jobs for them to look for and we must really solve that.
The second problem we have and it is indeed a spectacular failure in that instead of creating 2, 2 million jobs, we have losses that have caused us to be summoned. The second failure that this Bill as well as what our measures will do, is to also address the other cataclysmic failure of the Government, that is to provide a policy framework for social security that affords a safety net for those who are unable to work or who have lost their jobs to be caught it. So, my debate of the Bill and the specific clauses are in that light.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I also want to urge the hon. Minister as she considers the other measures that she will take in terms of employment also demonstrate that the Government is indeed sincere and is genuine about protecting the rights of workers. It is not a secret that the
Government is under a lot of pressure from the International Monetary Fund and is on a staff monitoring programme. Government is required to reduce its wage bill and the Hon. Minister of Finance and Economic Development told us in the Mid-Term Fiscal Policy Review. I want to implore the Hon. Minister that she reassures me because I am suspicious that what the Government has allowed to happen is an experiment on the private sector to see the public reaction if private sector employees lose their jobs so that it tests the waters and sees that when it decides to jettison members of the public service, it will know what to do. I implore through you Mr. Speaker Sir, the hon. Minister to demonstrate that the Government is sincere.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I would also want to acknowledge, because in preparation of my contribution, I have consulted Harare Westerners through a platform that I use on Face book, where I tell them what is before Parliament and get to know their views. I want to say that the predominant sentiment was that we must indeed pass this Bill so that we stop the uncertainty and fear that is in a lot of the few employees who are still in employment that their jobs will be lost. My specific contributions to clauses of the Bill, I also informed by those comments that I am grateful for and that I acknowledge.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I want to attend to specific clauses and respectfully request the hon. Minister to re-look at them so that we sharpen the Bill and ameliorate millions from suffering. Firstly, I would like to urge the hon. Minister to attend to Clause 4 so that she indeed proposes a certain fixed period or either a formula for setting a fixed period by which an employee who stays on short a contracts can be regarded to have been fully employed so that we do not leave it to uncertainty as well.
Secondly, I would like to draw the hon. Minister’s attention to the need to attend to Clause 4, in particular sub-clause A, B which seeks to provide that an employer can only terminate a contract if there is a mutual agreement between the employer and the employee. I wonder what happens if an employer, for example, refuses to accept because this is a double edged sword. What happens if an employee wishes to resign and the employer says – no you cannot resign? I want to urge the Minister to look at those provisions because sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, because it is designed to ensure that the employer cannot dismiss an employee but it must apply both ways. There should be avoidance of violating Sections 52 and 53 of the Constitution that protect people from slavery, servitude and forced labour. I would want to believe that there is need to attend to that.
I would also want to suggest that in terms of Clause 4, that one month’s salary in every 2 years has caused an outcry, as well as the issue of making the payments retrospective for those employees who were released. I want to propose a solution that the hon. Minister can consider and this can be done. This is to say that while the employers indeed might be suffering and they might not have enough money but the lack of a severance package and one month’s salary is too little. The hon. Minister has means at her disposal in terms of something called the National Social Security Authority and an Act that she administers which empowers her in Section 3 to set up any scheme and also in Section 23 that the National Social Security Authority looks at the public interests.
I want to implore the hon. Minister to make up for that loss and the suffering that will be done by setting up a special fund for those 22 000 or so workers who have been jettisoned because of the Zuva Petroleum judgement so that they are covered and so that at the end, workers get meaningful compensation for job losses, severance pay and we also avoid pushing the retrospectivity on employers.
I also want to suggest that on Clauses 11 and 12, the registrar with the Minister must not look at the administrative issues so that they do not get an excuse to interfere with the functioning of Employment Councils and Trade Unions for undefined reasons.
Mr. Speaker, I suggest that in Clause 14, the very issue of public interest should be removed as a consideration for registering a collective bargaining agreement because it is prone to abuse. It can mean anything and can be political.
In Clause 15, I want to implore the hon. Minister to use this Bill to give the Labour Court full and competent powers to even execute judgements and be a fully-fledged court of law. I want to believe it is possible Mr. Speaker Sir.
I also want to suggest in Clause 16 that we maintain the principle of protection of the law in the Constitution. The words ‘unfair labour practices’ must be used as an ‘alleged or a suspected unfair labour practice’ until an employer is found to have indeed committed it because that would be a bias against the employers.
This Bill must be fair so that we play our role as Parliament to promote employment as is required by the Constitution in Section 14 that we, as Parliament and others, must create and promote employment. Those are my humble submissions, let us address the root causes. I thank you.
- ANASTANCIA NDHLOVU: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I
would like to thank you for affording me this opportunity to very briefly add my voice to the debate and as I do that, I am supporting that this Bill passes.
I would like to thank the hon. Minister and also the Government in general for summoning us to sit to address this issue. I am sure the reason we are here as Members of Parliament is to make laws for the peace, order and good governance of our beautiful country. So I do not see anything wrong with us coming and correcting any mishaps so that there is no anarchy in our country.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I think it is the role of this august House to defend all the gains of the liberation struggle and one of those gains is what we saw happening in 1985 when Hon. Shava was the Minister of Labour, the coming in or the birth of the Labour Relations Act, the first one in post independent Zimbabwe.
Some will say that when the labour laws where enacted in our country, they were to protect the black majority workers from the employers who were largely white then. Now, some will therefore say that today most employers are black. While that may be true, I am of the view that we need to be able to strike a balance in a manner which is able to promote and sustain harmonious industrial relations at the work place and at the same time be able to inspire increased productivity.
Also even more importantly, be able to attract foreign direct investment. So, I think that we need to take a more holistic approach and deal with this issue without emotions for the good of the country and the people we represent here.
While there have been chaos in the past three weeks or so, we must not forget to applaud the progress that Government has made with regards to employer/employee relations and issues of industrial relations in general from 1980 to date. Of course, it is not possible to have a smooth running, but what is important is that where we see any shortfalls, we immediately and quickly come to fix them. We must therefore, applaud ourselves, stop the blame game and move as one united front in defence of the rights and freedoms of the workers in our country.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I however would like to urge the hon. Minister as she takes note of the comments that have come out of this debate to also probably see how our labour laws can protect the workers in the agriculture sector. Our economy is mainly agro-based and the salvation of this economy, in my view, is agrarian but our labour laws do not do much to protect the workers in that sector so that is one of my comments.
I also would like to congratulate the Minister for progress made to date in as far as the Tripartite Negotiation Forum (TNF) is concerned but I want to urge her as I congratulate her to move with more speed and bring the TNF Bill to this august House. I believe that social dialogue has a big role to play in solving the challenges that we face as a nation. I would like to urge that part of labour reforms process should also include moving with more speed in as far as finalising and concretising issues of social dialogue in order for us to have a social contract are concerned.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I will not repeat what the other hon. members have said but as I stress the importance of the social dialogue, I would like to urge all parties to the social dialogue to be more sincere recognising that the hon. Minister when she addressed us said that the employers’ representatives did not turn up for the consultations. They only submitted written submissions two weeks later and that shows a lack of commitment and seriousness on their part.
I would like to thank you Mr. Speaker and all the hon. members who have supported this Bill in a progressive manner and say that, it is not too late to correct this mess. I would also like to salute and thank the workers of this country for remaining resolute despite the challenges that we are facing.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I therefore also want to urge them to always remember why and how we ended up in that mess. One hon. member said that the Government of the day is not sincere in protecting the workers. I do not agree with that, we need to be sincere and honest with each other. The reason the workers have suffered in this country, the reason there is no productivity at the work place is because of the challenges we face as a country and mostly to do with the illegal sanctions imposed on this nation. – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections] –
Mr. Speaker Sir, I would like to thank you and urge all hon.
members to remain truthful to the cause of why we are here and urge everyone to support the passing of this Bill. I thank you.
- PARADZA: Thank you Mr. Speaker. First and foremost, I would like to thank the Minister for her quick reaction in coming up with this Bill and also His Excellency, the President for summoning
Parliament in such short notice for us to come here and debate this Bill.
I have sad news about this bad law that we are amending today. I am happy that the Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development, Dr. Made is here. The sad news is that a certain Grain
Marketing Board (GMB) employee by the name of Garaba who is from Chiweshe, upon receiving his letter of termination last week after having worked diligently for 18 years, took poison and died yesterday. As we speak, his body is lying in a mortuary at Howard hospital. This is how bad this law is for those who think otherwise. So, officially he is the first known victim of this bad law. We do not know of others whose cases have not been reported. The other issue which I want to raise is that this gentleman was not receiving his salary from GMB for a couple of months. He has now received a letter of termination, to say can you go home without any terminal benefits. He does not know when he is going to receive his terminal benefits and so forth. I was hoping that in this Bill, can the Minister indicate or give a directive to say if any company that wished to retrench, must, with immediate effect give that person his/her terminal benefits?
I want to borrow a little bit from Hon. Maridadi when he was talking about Chief Executives. These are the people in most cases, who are running down these companies through bad management, but the victim is the shop floor worker. It is happening across the board, no matter it is in the private or public sector. They protect themselves through board or management. That aspect must be looked into Mr.
Speaker. Turning around to the issue in the media industry, for the past
30 to 35 years, they have not had anything which we call Employment Council. We had the union which is the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ), but no Employment Councils and no Retrenchment Boards.
So, what we have is a media at that level which is fragmented. I would want, through you Mr. Speaker, for the Minister to consider making it mandatory for the media industry in particular, to have an Employment Council so that when we are negotiating retrenchment packages, they have at least somewhere to take their issues to. What we have is that each media house has its own rules. We have Zimpapers, ZBC, Alpha Media and Associated Newspapers, and all these have retrenched. These workers are not going to get any relief because of the work of these Employment Councils or Retrenchment Boards. I saw that in the Bill, there is a new section which is set to substitute Section 12 (c). It talks about getting some relief or negotiations through these particular councils, whether it is a Works Council, Employment Councils or Retrenchment Boards, but this does not exist in the media industry.
The core business of the media is used. We have boys and girls up there and their job is to write, gather and disseminate news. That is the core business of the industry. The good thing is that the Minister who happens now to be the Acting Minister of Information can look into this, make sure this is corrected and take this opportunity to correct that anomaly. Thank you Mr. Speaker.
- SANSOLE: Thank you Mr. Speaker for giving me this opportunity to contribute to this important debate on the Labour Amendment Bill. Thousands of people are now out of employment as a result of a law which is not new, a law which has been with us for a long time. The major problem is that employers have won, taking advantage of the law and abusing it. The law is not meant for retrenchment. It is meant to regulate the relationship between the employer and the employee. So, if applied on a one-on-one basis where a relationship between an employer and the employee is no longer sustainable, there is nothing wrong with the law.
However, if it is abused and used for retrenchment purposes, then it gives way to the disasters that we have at the moment, where it has brought about extreme suffering to a number of workers who found themselves out of employment. I say abused because there is the politics of the employer and the employee having an unsustainable relationship which needs to be terminated. But, how does an employer wake up one day and have an unsustainable relationship with 50, 100 or 300 employees at the same time? Obviously, it is being abused.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I want to touch on the right to terminate employment on three months’ notice and also to touch on Section 5, which talks about the retrenchment packages. As I have said, the right to terminate employment on three months’ is meant to be reciprocal in the sense that the employee can also give the employer three months’ notice to terminate employment when they want to leave. We must also be careful that we do not let laws which are not balanced. Let us try and find the balance between the interest of the employer and the employee and the interest of the investor and the employees. Let us not come up with rules which scare away investors.
As long as the law is not abused, both parties will be protected. In this case, one party has abused the law to the detriment of the other which is a very unfortunate and undesirable situation. I want to say that employers on the one hand view employees as people in whom they invested money. Therefore, they feel short-changed when an employee all of a sudden, decides to walk away, hence employers have taken advantage and decided to terminate employment contracts at an alarming rate that we have seen.
On the issue of compensation, the compensation that is proposed is inadequate as already been pointed out. There is need to review that upwards with one month pay for every year served being the barest minimum that can be paid to anyone. This is because employees will have put in long years of service into an organisation. There is also a provision on Section 5 (4) which empowers the Retrenchment Board to propose a payment plan in installments. I think that is not an unreasonable proposition. While we are trying to protect workers, I think we should encourage employers to pay reasonable packages. One way to encourage them is to avoid coming up with laws which make it impossible to meet such payments.
So, I think the proposal to allow an employer to pay over a period of time is an eligible proposition for as long as the period is reasonable. I also feel that, in addition to the payment of a retrenchment package, there is also need to consider relocation because once the employment contract is terminated, an employee does not necessarily continue to reside in the area in which they were employed. They have to relocate to their homes and there is need for them to get compensation in order to be able to do so. We have seen cases where workers have been dismissed and they struggle to raise money so that they travel to their homes and the situation is undesirable.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I would like to propose that we look at a situation where we try and find a balance between the interests of the parties concerned, particularly taking care of the workers’ plight because of the power dynamics between the employer and the employee. The employee is in an inferior bargaining position naturally compared to the employer. Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.
- MACKENZIE: Thank you very much Mr. Speaker Sir for
giving me this opportunity to add my voice to this Bill. Mr. Speaker Sir, it is my view that when all the members come to this august House to discuss issues like this Bill, we must be united. I do not agree with what Hon. Maridadi was saying. He was talking of retrenchment, starting off from the directors. It is my view that ZANU PF and MDC must be very serious on matters to do with the people of Zimbabwe.
If it is on issue of retrenchment, Hon. Maridadi, it started off with
MDC and when you retrenched, you never targeted the directors. Anyway, I do not want to dwell much on that, but I just want us to be reminded that we must be very serious when discussing these issues.
Mr. Speaker Sir…
- SPEAKER: Order hon. member –[AN HON. MEMBER: Matemba] – Hamuna matemba muno. I am correcting those who are shouting matemba, whatever that means. Hon. member, can you restrict yourself to the Bill. Please carry on.
- MACKENZIE: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir, I want to dwell more on the issues to do with the Workers’ Unions. The Workers’ Unions in Zimbabwe – I want to applaud the Minister for bringing up issues to do with the Workers’ Unions in Zimbabwe. I have discovered that the Workers’ Unions in Zimbabwe are no longer representing the interests of the workers. Most unions bargain for salary and wage increase for the workers and when the employers fail to pay up, the same unions go on to attach equipment. I really feel that there is need for the Workers’ Union to be monitored.
Mr. Speaker Sir, in Zimbabwe, we have one very satanic Workers’ Union, the Rural District Councils Workers’ Union. That union is also led by the Secretary General who is a very senior MDC activist – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections] – Last week, one Rural District Council sent a vehicle to collect medicine for the clinics and because that local authority had not paid up the Workers’ Union dues, that vehicle was attached. So most local authorities in Zimbabwe, especially the Rural District Councils are suffering because of some of these unions, especially the Rural District Council Workers’ Union. So, I want to applaud the Minister for this Bill.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I want to salute the Government of ZANU PF for being very proactive to the needs of the people of Zimbabwe – [HON.
MEMBERS: Hear, hear] – we had never had any retrenchment in ZANU PF but we have heard of retrenchment in the opposition. However, when members from the opposition come to this House, they do not want to address the issues at hand – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections] – As said by one hon. member, this Bill must give us a win-win situation for both the employers and the employees…
- SPEAKER: Your time is up. Hon. members, if the next two or three members carry on repeating themselves, I will close the debate and ask the Minister to comment. Let us add value to the debate.
- MUSANHI: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. A lot has been said, but I would like to talk about the overprotection of workers which I feel will retard a lot of progress in the industry. Mr. Speaker Sir, in Zimbabwe, it is easier to terminate a marriage contract than to terminate the contract of a lazy employee. So, Mr. Speaker Sir, it is disturbing to a lot of our investors. We have got a lot of investors that want to bring money into the country and we have always been talking of Labour
Reforms which we feel will actually help the economy to tick. Mr. Speaker Sir, it is disturbing that our colleagues across the table take this issue as a forum for mockery, yet it is a very serious issue that we are supposed to talk about in order to move our economy forward.
So, if you look across our region, the Southern African region Zimbabweans are regarded as the best employees. They produce the best. If you look at the same Zimbabwean being back home because of our overprotection of employees, he will come and he will not producing as he was doing in South Africa, Botswana or any other neighbouring state. While this is a noble idea that this Bill passes through, I feel the Minister has a lot of work to do in order for this country to sustain the industry because if we keep on protecting workers without balancing the whole equation to the employer and employee, the whole thing will be distorted Mr. Speaker Sir. I would like to thank you very much for affording me this opportunity to air my views on this issue. Thank you very much. – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.]-
*MR. MUTSEYAMI: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. What I want to say most of the things have already been said. The issue concerning all the things that have been talked about, I am pleading with the Minister that if you look at all the clauses of this Bill, there are outcries. So because of that I am pleading with the hon. Minister that she should go back and re-look at the Bill. After serious consideration I think she should amend what the concerns are then she should bring it back and we should look at it. For now that is important and one thing that we should look at is the issue of workers who are being sacked from work. What do we do concerning the workers who went empty handed? All these other things we should look at them in line with our Constitution
so that it should align with regional laws and African Union concerning workers. I think for now we should deal with the issue that workers should be protected and that if they are sacked from work they should live well. Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear,
- SPEAKER: Order, order, hon. member, nhasi matidzidzisa kureketa chaizvo.
*MR. MATAMBANADZO: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir, for
affording this opportunity to add my voice on this Labour Bill which has brought turmoil in the country.
Firstly, I would like to thank the President for having mercy on his people who lost their jobs because of what has happened, so, that the law should be amended for the protection of the workers. I have stood up for my constituency Mr. Speaker Sir, the people are lamenting that the one who caused this, did you reprimand him? The one who have caused this and there are people who have died because of this person. Who is this person who has caused this? It is a person who is quite learned. The people have said it is a matter that should be investigated. That individual, was he not a beneficiary of the Presidential Scholarship? People are really pained because of what happened and what was caused by this hon. member. He has contributed in this House but people are really pained by what he did. By representing three people and this case has led to the whole country being in shambles. Now, many people are being fired from their work places empty handed and he is the one who caused this. I have seen that if I do not say this, people from my constituency would really be angered because they have said this lawyer should be given his packages as well. If he is a lawyer with a company he should be removed and that his licence should be canceled.
People from my constituency have sent me because they are pained.
- SPEAKER: On a point of order.
- GONESE: On a point of order Mr. Speaker Sir. I believe that the hon. member is not debating the principles annunciated in the
Amendment Bill and I believe that in debating, the hon. member must not debate the individual. The hon. member must be debating the principles which are relevant to the Amendment Bill. I believe Mr. Speaker that the hon. member has departed from the principles of the
*MR. SPEAKER: Hon. Matambanadzo, you have diverted from
the debate. You should debate in line with this Bill.
*MR. MATAMBANADZO: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir for
drawing me back. but it is very painful. I want to thank the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Services that she has done her best so that workers can be given their packages. I would like to add my voice on what was said by an hon. member from the opposite side that most people who were fired are from parastatals. That was caused by them because of the sanctions that they have called for to be imposed on our country. They are also the very same people who trained these Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) to be harsh on employees. They trained them to give each other huge salaries, school fees packages and fuel allowances at the expense of employees. This has caused - [HON.
MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections]- I cannot continue because they are not listening.
*MR. SPEAKER: Sorry, your time is up.
- J. TSHUMA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir, for according this opportunity to also add my voice on this terrible debate. Needless to say, this is a very sad debate. We cannot as Members of Parliament, duly elected by these very same people, sit and be comfortable with a situation whereby the same people are going to suffer day-in, day-out. I want to thank the hon. Minister, the President and ZANU PF party for coming up fast. – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear] –
It is our duty all of us in this august House, to always first and foremost, think of the people that we represent. By so doing, this will enable us to say we have been able to come up with solutions to our problems. I want to speak very strongly about the issue of National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ). Why, because it is a parastatal that operates in my area of Bulawayo. Most of the people who are affected come from my Constituency, Pelandaba-Mpopoma.
My biggest worry is: how can a parastatal that has been paying people for the past two years want to take up the easy route of retrenching? We cannot have that. As Parliament, we cannot condone that. – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – We want a situation which is very noble and a win-win situation for everybody. Yes, let the companies win but let the employee win as well. The situation right now is that people are actually conducting criminal activities. These companies that are retrenching people are committing a crime because they have misunderstood the Supreme Court ruling. That Zuva issue was a simple matter of people who were on contract.
If we look at the Labour Act itself, it has got all the provisions on how to lay off people. We must remember that we are talking of the same person who has laboured for you from day one. The same person who has given 100% commitment to your production and profit at the end of the day, then you just want to kick out that person and say you can go to hell with nothing. Aiwaka, hazviite izvozvo.
My proposal Mr. Speaker Sir is that, this Bill must be passed but we must look at a situation whereby the employer and the employee are winners at the end of the day so that we do not jeopardize the element of foreign direct investment or the investors coming in but at the same time, thinking about the lives, duty, services of those people that we represent.
I would like to urge this House to make sure that we pass this Bill as fast as possible before a lot of other people fall victim to this cruel, unnecessary and criminal activity. With these few words, I would like to thank you and say Madam Minister, congratulations. I hope we shall pass this Bill as soon as possible.
- SPEAKER: Order, order! I have exhausted the lists I had been given by either side but we have not finished the task. I will ask the hon. Minster to respond.
THE MINISTER OF PUBLIC SERVICE, LABOUR AND
SOCIAL SERVICES (MRS. MUPFUMIRA): Thank you Mr. Speaker
Sir. I would like to thank the hon. members for all the positive and meaningful contributions or comments and a lively debate. The essence of the Labour Legislation is a very important economic and social pillar which cannot be undermined. As Minister responsible for labour, I value each and every contribution that you submitted this afternoon. My Ministry will consider all the valuable contributions.
Allow me to single out the Report of the Portfolio Committee on Public Service, Labour and Social Services. The recommendations are not only meaningful, but progressive towards attainment of social justice
– [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear] – and democracy at the work place. The Bill will be fine tuned to incorporate the recommendations as emphasised by a number of hon. members. -[HON: MEMBERS: Hear, hear] – Let me express my gratitude to you Mr. Speaker and all
Members of Parliament for summoning Parliament through His
Excellency. The fact that we came in our numbers shows that we value the workers who are being thrown into the streets. I want to apologise but in a positive way to the hon. member who said we are fast-tracking things and so forth. As a legislator and as a mother, it is a crisis. When people are being put into the streets and then we say let us go the normal way, there is no normal way when the livelihood of many people is being affected. They have no money for rentals and so forth.
Mr. Speaker, it was reasonable that we requested His Excellency to summon Parliament back. It shows we are responsible legislators, representing the people out there. The overwhelming attendance, at short notice, demonstrates commitment to real bread and butter issues. We are talking about bread and butter issues. The labour market is at the moment in a crisis. In a crisis, you also look for remedies which are not normal. For that, I can apologise – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear] - the fine tuning is a process. I think the whole amendment is a process. It cannot be done overnight, there are a lot of things which have been pointed out to us which we will look at and we will fine tune. The other administrative issues will all be considered and looked into but we cannot wait and sit whilst Rome is burning.
Mr. Speaker, I am sure we are all aware of what His Excellency said at the Official Opening of Parliament; the alignment of our laws with the Constitution. We have just started the process but I believe it is just that we had to rush because of the dismissal of people in a harsh manner. I will respond to one or two of the comments, in particular singling out Hon. Chimanikire’s comments on public interests. Public interests are protected by the Minister in the interest of good corporate governance.
Mr. Speaker, if Employment Councils and trade unions are permitted to operate as they wish, there might be some disorder. Some people might abuse those offices. We are looking at union dues, we are aware that some unions have been collecting dues. There is no accountability, people just squandering dues. So, we are saying the oversight of the Ministry as far as good corporate governance is concerned, we are not going to abuse the workers. The administrator is authorised by the Labour Court, so there is transparency. Again, this process is important to ensure that workers interests are safeguarded.
There is the issue of maternity, I agree with the hon. members who commented. Yes, in the Constitution it says 90 days and in the current Act, it says 98 days, then it goes on to say three times. I agree with you, there is need to remove the qualification or the period because it is national duty. I do not think there is any need to argue about that – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear].
Mr. Speaker Sir, as Government, we are looking at ways of alleviating some of the problems these workers who have been put on the streets have. We have already started engaging other ministries including the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement for those who are interested in agriculture, how they can be assisted. They can be assisted for actual farming or small market gardening. The other
Ministry is Local Government, Public Works and National Housing.
We are engaging them on stands for urban and rural housing. The
Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises and Co-operative Development can assist with loans. We have engaged NSSA, it is within the mandate of NSSA to create a special fund to assist the retrenchees. So we have already started looking at these issues. It is not like as Government, we are just looking at the employers especially when we discuss the issue of retrospective, which I think we all agreed as a House right at the beginning. So, Government is doing something over and above what we expect what the other social partner to do.
Mr. Speaker Sir, to summarise the purpose of this Act, it is to advance social justice and democracy in the work by giving effect to the fundamental rights of employees and employers; provide a legal framework within which employees can bargain collectively for the improvements of conditions of employment; promotion and participation of employees in decisions affecting their interests at the work place. What has just happened is, it was like one sided, I am not a lawyer but I have discussed with learned people the legitimate expectation to be at work. I get up in the morning expecting to go to work, I get to work and I am told you are dismissed, having worked for 20 years at a company.
Those are some of the issues which we have to look at as legislators, to protect the people of Zimbabwe.
In a nutshell, I want to thank all the hon. members, all the deliberations, points and weaknesses. As I said, it is a process. It is not a one day thing but we will try our best to ensure that we remain united. I am seeing the spirit of togetherness. So, I want us to continue making progress so that we stop the attrition which is happening. As I stand here, people are going ahead firing people. I plead that we conclude this. We will continue reviewing and amending. I thank you. Mr.
Speaker, I move that the Bill be read a second time.
Bill read a second time.
Motion put and agreed to.
Bill read a second time.
Committee:..-[HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections]-
- SPEAKER: Hon. members, I think that the underlying statement of the Hon. Minister is to harness the attrition of the workers and the Chair wants the job done now. So, I confer with the Minister that let us go on.
- GONESE: Thank you very much hon. Speaker Sir. Mr. Speaker Sir, I think that hon. members on both sides of the House are equally committed to have the Bill debated and I think that they have already shown their commitment and the Bill has already passed through its Second Reading today. As I understand it Mr. Speaker Sir, the Senate is only sitting on Thursday and at this point and time, we are going to the Committee Stage but hon. members need time to digest. Because, when you are looking at the Committee Stage, that is when we go through the Bill clause by clause and hon. members may want to propose amendments and those amendments need time. People need to formulate what amendments they may want and they need to convince the Minister. Whilst I acknowledge and appreciate the concern that this Bill must be passed into law expeditiously, we do not lose anything by proceeding to the Committee Stage tomorrow, bearing in mind what I have already said that the Senate is only sitting on Thursday.
So, at the end of the day, even if we were to complete the Committee Stage and the Third Reading today, the Bill will only be transmitted to the Senate on Thursday and if we do that tomorrow Mr. Speaker Sir, it allows us an opportunity. The Executive had ample time to deliberate on the amendments of the Bill which they proposed to us. Equally as legislators, we need ample time to look at the clauses so that if we want to propose any changes, we can do so from an informed position. I believe that it is only fair and in accordance with our responsibilities as legislators to do justice to the clauses. So the Bill is on Committee Stage. I thank you Mr. Speaker.
- SPEAKER: Order, order! I understand what Hon. Gonese is saying. Unfortunately, he was not here at the beginning. It was agreed and leave was given to the Hon. Minister to waiver the Standing Orders so that we can do justice to the Bill. As the hon. member is a learned friend, he can sink on his feet.
Committee: With leave; forthwith.
LABOUR AMENDMENT BILL (H.B. 7, 2015)
House in Committee.
Clauses 1 to 4 put and agreed to.
On Clause 5:
- GONESE: Mr. Chairman, which clause are you on?
THE DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: We are now on Clause 5.
- GONESE: Sorry Mr. Chairman, I think I beg for your indulgence. We were just conferring and I beg for your indulgence. I would kindly request the Chair to allow us because there were certain clauses where we have contributions and this is why I am begging for the Chairperson’s indulgence. I think we are all anxious and I just want to confirm which clause. Can we just start clause by clause?
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: We are now on Clause 5 and I
cannot start on Clause 1. You were talking when I was reading here.
- GONESE: Mr. Chairman, I beg your pardon. I am sorry Mr.
Chairman, can we go back to Clause 3. We just want to contribute.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: No, I cannot.
Clause 5 put and agreed to.
Clauses 6 and 7 put and agreed to.
On Clause 8:
- CHAMISA: We have a problem Hon. Chairman. We cannot hear where we are.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: It is because you are talking.
- CHAMISA: No, we are seated here but there is a lot of noise.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: I am saying order and can you hear me now?
- CHAMISA: Yes, Sir.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: May you sit down and then
listen to me.
Clause 8 put and agreed to.
- CHAMISA: Hon. Chair, I actually had done some consideration. My request is still on Clause 5.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: Hon. member, are you talking
to Clause 8?
- CHAMISA: No, I thought we were still on Clause 5.
On Clause 9:
- CHAMISA: Mr. Chair, I think I have the right where a member raises a point when they have not heard and I think it is only fair that we debate.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: What clause are you referring to? I am on Clause 9 now.
- CHAMISA: Clause 5!
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: No, we cannot go to Clause 5.
- CHAMISA: But why?
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: You were seated there – [MR. CHAMISA: But we could not hear you.] – If you could not hear me, tough luck. I will go ahead if you are not debating Clause 9. – [MR.
CHAMISA: Go ahead where?] –
Clauses 9 and 10 put and agreed to. – [MR. CHAMISA: No, I want to debate Clause 5.] -
Clauses 11 and 12 put and agreed to - [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – [MR. CHAMISA: No, no, if you do not want people to debate just say you do not want people to debate.]
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: We cannot go to Clause 5. – [MR. CHAMISA: We must debate the law. Do you want us to debate?] – No, I cannot go back to Clause 5 honestly. Hon. Gonese, you were all there – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – [MR. GONESE:
Sorry, Mr. Chair, you listened to me and when I sat down, my
colleagues wanted to contribute. Then the next thing you were already on Clause 7.] –
Clause 13 to 17 - [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – put and agreed to
Bill reported without amendments.
- GONESE: On a point of order Mr. Speaker. I have a point of order on the Committee Stage. We did not have a Committee for the reason that we had indicated that members from this side of the House wanted to propose amendments. Unfortunately Mr. Speaker, the Chairperson was moving at breakneck speed and did not give us an opportunity to listen to which clauses though we had made representations. What I am seeking is for the Bill to be recommitted to the Committee Stage. There were members who were raising the issue of a quorum and were also ignored. The long and short of it is that there are some fundamental clauses where members feel strongly that they want to propose amendments but that opportunity was not given. You will see that there was absolutely no debate on any of the clauses and I believe that in the interest of the people of this country and if we are sincere Mr. Speaker, we must have the Bill recommitted to the Committee Stage, which is permissible. At that point in time all the members will make proposals and if the Minister is in agreement we expect the amendments to be effected and if she is not in agreement we would also expect the Minister to explain why she does not accede to those proposals. We are being very sincere but it is only that when matters progressed there was some noise and we were explaining to the chairperson why we wanted to go back to Clause 3 which was the first clause we wanted to debate on, but the chairperson did not agree to it. I believe the people of this country expect us to do things properly.
So, my request is for the Bill to be recommitted to the Committee Stage to enable members to debate on areas they feel they want to propose amendments. I do not believe it will prejudice anyone because we have already suspended the Standing Orders and we are prepared to be here until we have done justice to the Bill in the Committee Stage. -
[HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] -
- SPEAKER: Order, order. What I find incredible is that there could not be any debate raised in all the sections that were called out. I would have understood if you had debated and made your submissions to other clauses that were called out but now there was nothing. Hon. members, I have liaised with hon. members on both sides that there are only three clauses where amendments are being suggested.
In terms of procedure, I cannot recommit again to Committee Stage. What I can appeal to the hon. members who want amendments, proposed amendments to Clauses 4, 5 and 14, to submit these through the Chief Whips. There is Hon. Gonese. The Minister has assured me that those will be taken care of as proposed.
Hon. members, there are two Houses here – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections] -. Order! That is why some of you did not get the clauses that were being called out. Now, I am trying to say I understand the indulgence that was being craved for by Hon. Gonese,
Leader of the opposition. There are only three clauses that is Clauses 4, 5 and 14 which hon. members on my left wanted to make suggested amendments. I have said the amendments can be made in writing to the hon. Minister and secondly, we have a second safety net through the Senate. The Senate can also be favoured, through the relevant Members of Parliament in the Senate, to push for those amendments accordingly.
So, with that ruling, I crave the indulgence that I now have to change my reading here. The Chairperson of Committees reports the Labour Amendment Bill (H.B. 7, 2015) without amendments subject to my ruling that the proposed amendments which did not come through the Committee Stage be given to the Minister and also be brought forward in the Senate.
- GONESE: With very heavy hearts, Mr. Speaker Sir, we have to accede to that Third Reading.
THE VICE PRESIDENT AND MINISTER OF JUSTICE,
LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (MR.
MNANGAGWA): Mr. Speaker Sir, I am a full member of the House and I have stood here to exercise my rights as a member of this House. My rights are to the extent of thinking, hon. members who have, with enthusiasm participated in this debate – although I was out of the Chamber, I was listening from my office at the entire debate and I am very grateful to the views expressed by both sides, so progressive views that I think this country is endowed by patriotic persons. I thank you.
- SPEAKER: Hon. Vice President, it was not my intention to take away your right but your contribution, I think it is well received by the hon. members and may I also recognise the indulgence of Hon. Gonese, the Chief Whip on the other side, for his statement and that the process that we have agreed upon will be exercised for the good of sanitising the Labour Amendment Bill.
Third Reading: With leave; forthwith.
LABOUR AMENDMENT BILL (H.B. 7, 2015)
THE MINISTER OF PUBLIC SERVICE, LABOUR AND SOCIAL SERVICES (SENATOR MUPFUMIRA): I move that
the Bill be now read the third time.
Motion put and agreed to.
Bill read the third time
On the motion of THE VICE PRESIDENT AND
MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY
AFFAIRS (MR MNANGAGWA), the House adjourned at Twenty
Seven Minutes past Eight o’clock p.m. until Tuesday, 25th August, 2015.