Labour bod­ies hail SEZs Bill re­jec­tion

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Business Chronicle - Busi­ness Edi­tor

LABOUR bod­ies yes­ter­day ap­plauded Pres­i­dent Mu­gabe for throw­ing back to Par­lia­ment the Spe­cial Eco­nomic Zones (SEZs) Bill so that it can con­form to pro­vi­sions of the coun­try’s labour reg­u­la­tions.

The Pres­i­dent re­jected the Bill, which is ex­pected to un­lock in­creased in­vest­ment, and sent it back to Par­lia­ment af­ter ex­press­ing reser­va­tions about a clause that seeks to sus­pend the Labour Act whose ef­fect would have ex­posed work­ers to se­ri­ous abuse by em­ploy­ers.

Par­lia­ment now has to meet again next week to con­sider reser­va­tions ex­pressed by the Head of State.

Zim­babwe Fed­er­a­tion of Trade Union (ZFTU) pres­i­dent Mr Wil­fred Mak­warimba said the Pres­i­dent’s stance shows his ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the wel­fare of work­ers.

“We had writ­ten to the Pres­i­dency com­plain­ing about this Bill. We queried why Par­lia­ment ap­proved it like that as we felt com­pro­mis­ing the Labour Act was not the an­swer.

“So our Par­lia­ment wanted to pro­tect for­eign in­vestors at the ex­pense of our work­ers. Luck­ily the Pres­i­dent has re­jected it and it’s a plea­sure to us. It shows Pres­i­dent Mu­gabe is worker con­scious,” said Mr Mak­warimba.

He said Par­lia­ment should ad­mit it erred in ap­prov­ing a Bill that works against the coun­try’s laws for the sake of pleas­ing for­eign­ers.

“We can­not make a law and com­pro­mise it our­selves. That’s not rea­son­able. In­vestors who come here need to ad­here to our laws and not want to im­pose theirs.

‘‘As work­ers we were wait­ing to see how His Ex­cel­lency would han­dle this and we thank him for pro­tect­ing work­ers.

‘‘We’re ex­tremely happy about that. It shows Pres­i­dent Mu­gabe is a good leader,” said Mr Mak­warimba.

Zim­babwe Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU) pres­i­dent Mr Ge­orge Nki­wane also heaped praise on Pres­i­dent Mu­gabe.

“This is an ex­cit­ing devel­op­ment and that’s what we ex­pected as work­ers. If work­ers com­plain, a good Gov­ern­ment should re­spond pos­i­tively,” he said.

“That Bill was go­ing to sub­ject work­ers to slav­ery by in­vestors and we can­not ac­cept that. We held meet­ings with stake­hold­ers on that and we agreed to op­pose this and gladly the Gov­ern­ment has shown pre­pared­ness to ac­cept our reser­va­tions.”

The SEZs Bill be­comes the first pro­posed law to be re­ferred back to Par­lia­ment by the Pres­i­dent dur­ing the life of the Eighth Par­lia­ment.

The Speaker of the Na­tional Assem­bly, Ad­vo­cate Ja­cob Mu­denda, had an­nounced that the Bill was await­ing the Pres­i­dent’s as­sent af­ter it sailed through both the Na­tional Assem­bly and Se­nate.

The Clerk of Par­lia­ment, Mr Kennedy Chokuda, con­firmed that Pres­i­dent Mu­gabe re­ferred the Bill back.

It is un­der­stood that Pres­i­dent Mu­gabe cited sec­tion 56 of the Bill, which he said was not con­sis­tent with sec­tion 65 of the Con­sti­tu­tion as it sought to sus­pend op­er­a­tions of the labour laws in spe­cial eco­nomic zones.

Sec­tion 56 of the Bill pro­vides as fol­lows: “The Labour Act [Chap­ter 28:01] and the In­di­geni­sa­tion Eco­nomic Em­pow­er­ment Act [Chap­ter 14:33] shall not ap­ply in re­la­tion to li­censed in­vestors op­er­at­ing in a spe­cial eco­nomic zone.”

SEZs are ge­o­graph­i­cal ar­eas ad­min­is­tered by one over­sight man­age­ment body of­fer­ing spe­cial in­vest­ment and trade in­cen­tives to firms that es­tab­lish them­selves in the des­ig­nated zones.

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