Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Business Editor Victoria Ruzvidzo
ZIMBABWE should relaunch in earnest the social dialogue process as one of the key strategies that will ensure sustainable economic regeneration. The process, which was dealt a severe blow last year as mistrust grew between Government, business and labour, would urgently need revisiting. One of the key proponents of the tripartite talks, International Labour Organisation regional director Dr Tayo Fashoyin said it was critical that social dialogue resumes, stressing that political harmony in the country would provide an effective platform for re-engagement.
"Our work (social dialogue), could be greatly helped if we could have a political framework that encourages dialogue. That would automatically change the mindset of all stakeholders," said Dr Fashoyin.
In this instance, the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between Zanu-PF and the two opposition MDC formations on Monday, laid a basis for a favourable political climate.
The next two weeks would be telling in terms of the country’s future.
The tripartite partners in the dialogue process would need to be re-energised so they could go back to the drawing board.
ILO is a tripartite organisation that has largely been instrumental in shaping negotiation between Government, business and labour, it has co-sponsored a number of workshops in this regard.
Zimbabwe got close to signing a social contract when last June three protocols-Prices and Incomes Stabilisation, Foreign Currency management where signed but hardly a week after, the process collapsed as developments in the economy left each party suspecting the other of having hidden agendas.
Since then, there have not been much effort to resume dialogue. The political and economic terrain has largely not created room for effective negotiation.
But Dr Fashoyin said the ILO and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have been working behind the scenes to keep the dialogue flame alive in anticipation of a more conducive environment.
"The developments that led to the collapse of talks were a major setback but as ILO we never gave up. We did not see an alternative. We have continued to press on the tripartite partners to go back to the table.
"We continue to rebuild trust. But once the political environment is stable all parties will come together. The good thing is that they all appreciate the importance of dialogue," said Dr Fashoyin.
Social dialogue began in earnest in1998, culminating in the drafting of the Declaration of Intent.
However, the ILO boss was quick to say that a social contract was not a panacea in itself but would need to be supported by various strategies.
"I, as an individual believe that there is potential for this economy. It is a very important economy in this region," he said.