On behalf of the Government of Zimbabwe, and indeed on my own behalf, I am honoured to address you on the eve of the 2022 International Workers Day.
As we celebrate this important day, we salute and pay tribute to all the workers of our motherland, Zimbabwe. It is you the workers who are building our country, brick by brick and stone upon stone, towards the attainment of our National Vision of a Prosperous and Empowered Upper Middle-Income Society by 2030.
The theme of this year’s Workers’ Day Commemorations: Restoring Workers’ Dignity is most appropriate. More so against the backdrop of the present global realities and their associated impact, which we are feeling at a local level. It is through you, our hardworking Zimbabweans, that we will achieve our goal of constructing our own roads, dams and bridges; building our own schools, clinics and factories; growing our own food and manufacturing our own clothes. Through your hard, honest work, you are bringing to reality our national development mantra, Nyika inovakwa nevene vayo/ ilizwe liyakwa ngabanikazibalo.”
Going forward, I urge the social partners to expedite the establishment of the Zimbabwe National Productivity Institute, which – among other objectives – will drive the productivity consciousness across all sectors.
A prosperous society is only possible if you as workers continue to play your part.
As a country, we commend you for your efforts that have led to the present growth trajectory in our capacity utilisation, which is now at 66 percent.
Through the hard, honest work of our workers, the Zimbabwean economy has now graduated from stabilisation to growth.
In this regard, your dignity as workers, your value, wages and salaries must be commensurate with the resultant improving macro-economic fundamentals. Employers are challenged to respect and honour the efforts being made by workers in modernising and industrialising Zimbabwe.
The workplace should be a place of harmony and fulfilment. Occupational safety, health and wellness programmes must be pursued with great vigour. It is also my expectation that workplace programmes be prioritised to prepare workers for retirement.
Meanwhile, it is encouraging that the leadership of the labour movement now values the utility of social dialogue as the most efficient vehicle for finding solutions to our challenges, including those being experienced by workers.
To date, I have met the leaders of worker organisations and openly shared perspectives with them to move our country forward guided by the national interest. As a listening President, my door remains open for more frequent engagements.
It is regrettable that prices have of late been increasing due to imported inflation. My Government remains seized with redressing the situation through comprehensive strategies to ensure that there is no through erosion of disposable incomes. The Second Republic is determined to retain the purchasing power of workers, through a viable public transport system. Government will not stand by and watch while the hard-earned incomes of our workers are stolen by “mushika-shikas” and “makoronyera”. No!
You, as our workers, deserve an efficient and affordable transport system so that production time as well as your family time is not lost in transport queues. During peak hours, workers must be transported with the greatest ease.
I, therefore, direct authorities at ZUPCO and the responsible Ministry to heed this call and bring back order in the sector.
There are no residential areas which are more important than others. All communities must be treated equally, for this is the true meaning of our hard-won independence and the current development drive that leaves no one and no place behind.
Similarly, the incidence of non-remittance of payments for medical aid and pensions for workers by organisations will not be tolerated. I call upon workers to expose situations where they notice cases of corruption and maladministration within organisations and institutions.
The new normal brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic and the Fourth Industrial Revolution requires that you, the workers continuously improve yourselves. It is now imperative that you leverage on ICTs, which have emerged as a new factor of production, to broaden your opportunities.
You must equally take up staff development programmes within your workplaces and our institutions of higher learning towards re-skilling, up-skilling and multi-skilling.
My Government is aware of the decent work deficits being experienced by those in the informal sector. The responsible Ministry is directed to quickly finalise the Formalisation Strategy towards mainstreaming the decent work principles. I urge workers in the informal sector to always engage with the responsible Ministry to speed up the formalisation agenda, while enhancing their participation in the mainstream economy.
The National Social Security Authority must accelerate the establishment and implementation of programmes for the inclusion of the informal sector in social security protection.
My Government will continue to respect workers’ rights. As such, the Labour Amendment Bill is now before Parliament, in line with our commitment to ensure fair labour standards for all workers in Zimbabwe. The Bill is expected to further restore the dignity of workers through addressing some of the emerging challenges affecting workers. I challenge the leadership across all sectors of the economy to protect and advance the interest of all our workers. The Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare should take a more focused and visible lead in the protection of workers’ rights.
Increased social protection coverage and reduced worker vulnerability, anchored on putting in place robust mechanisms that improve working conditions, must be heightened.
Allow me to also encourage those Zimbabweans in the Diaspora to continue working hard in spite of many challenging circumstances they may face within their host countries. I thus, urge you to remain resolute and focused on achieving your personal and professional goals.
As we celebrate this year’s Workers’ Day, let us remain mindful that the Covid-19 pandemic is still with us. Get vaccinated, continue wearing masks, sanitising and maintaining social distance. No one is safe until everyone is safe.
Going forward and in line with the declaration of 2022 as the “Year of Growth”, my Government will ensure that the improving macro-economic fundamentals translate to a dignified life for workers. Together, through hard-honest work, as a peaceful and united people, let us steadfastly continue on our journey towards attaining Vision 2030 and building the Zimbabwe we all want.
With these remarks, I wish you all a happy Workers Day.
God bless you. God bless Zimbabwe.
I thank you.