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President Robert Mugabe yesterday disclosed that at least 9 000 people have lost their jobs since the controversial Supreme Court ruling that gave employers the leeway to terminate contracts after giving three months’ notice.
Mugabe told delegates at the inaugural Small To Medium Enterprises International Expo in Harare that labour laws will be reviewed because the ruling had “created problems for people”.
“If the law is going to create problems for the people, that law must be amended,” he said.
“We do not want to see people on the streets and do not like people being fired from work. We are going to look at the law because the law is an ass.”
Mugabe said although most companies were in distress and had found a suitable legal way to cut labour expenses, caution had to be exercised in doing so.
Companies have laid off hundreds of workers in the aftermath of the Supreme Court ruling a fortnight ago that gave employers a cheaper alternative to retrenchments.
Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa also told the National Assembly yesterday that government was exploring a “faster way” of dealing with the crisis.
He said Labour minister Prisca Mupfumira was seized with the matter, but did not elaborate.
“If the minister was here, probably she could have told you of a legal way which is fast, that’s what you are asking, which we are pursuing to solve the issue,” he said.
“But I can tell you that indeed we are seized with the matter and we are at an advanced stage in the process.”
However, Mnangagwa said Mugabe would not use the presidential powers to stop the job losses.
In Gweru, Industry minister Mike Bimha told the ongoing Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries annual congress that the massive job cuts after the ruling were a sign the labour laws were affecting business operations.
“Since the Supreme Court judgment a lot has happened and we have seen many companies sacking workers,” he said.
“To me, it is a reflection that we had taken too long to reform our Labour Act and that such laws are rigid and not flexible for business.”
Bimha said many companies were collapsing because they were failing to sustain labour costs.
“In some instances you have a company going down and you have a scenario where workers who are retrenched are being awarded hefty packages,” he said. “Where does the money come from? There should be flexibility when things are going down.”
The minister said the government had the responsibility to make sure that workers were not victimised.
Before the Supreme Court ruling, companies were retrenching in droves as they tried to stay afloat amid the collapse of the economy. By Tatira Zwinoira/Xolisani Ncube/Stephen Chadenga. source-newsday
photo-Furious Mugabe-Daily Mail