MDC's labour laws vital for middle class revival

HARARE - Sober and realistic perspectives are premised on the fundamental belief that a well-oiled and functioning economy hinges on the existence of a vibrant participation of the middle class on the economic life of a country.

There is not a concretely agreed definition of a middle class but it is generally that socioeconomic class between the working class and the upper class, usually including professionals, highly-skilled labourers, and lower and middle management.

 The coming of independence in 1980 ushered in a new era for this class which had a better status and became a role model and source of reference for parents who desired their children to admire and emulate the life of a local teacher, lecturer, nurse, accountant and secretary living nearby.

 Though lucrative, it was never going to last following the then Zanu PF-government’s authored policies that alienated the working class and skilled labour force through awkward policy frameworks, politics of patronage and rampant corruption.

As such this special class which is a key driver to a sounding economy was reduced into untold levels of pauperism reminiscent of the slave trade era.

 The constant clashes of President Robert Mugabe and the labour under the crusade of the firebrand Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions during Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and the late Gibson Sibanda’s leadership marked a turning point of the country’s political history.

In short the ignorance exhibited by the then Mugabe-led government on the crucial role of the middle class cost the party quite a fortune to the extent that in 2008 it was saved from being relegated to the political peripheries by a whisker.

 It is against this backdrop that the mainstream MDC has come of age and demonstrated wisdom in incorporating a provision of labour policy under its Social Service Cluster which among other noble intentions will see a rejuvenated resurgence of the critical economic sector of the middle class.

 In its policy document the party makes it clear that the role of labour in building Zimbabwe’s economy has not always been recognised. It needs humbleness and tolerance at times to accept reality that the dedicated labour force of this country has been alienated and reduced to some insignificant aspect of government business.

 This explains why the Zanu PF government without proper execution strategies at hand embarked on a land invasion exercise that saw thousands being displaced and subsequently losing their jobs, income and source of livelihood.

 It was through this ill-timed policy that Zimbabwe’s economy was forced down the precipice never experienced by any other country even at war. Jobs form the epicentre of security in human life.

 Jobs are the starting point and any empowerment project that seeks to uplift the living standards would firstly start with job creation. That’s where the indigenisation model of Zanu PF has lost the plot and will not meaningfully materialise except of course exposure of scandals, looting, plundering as well as extortion.

 The MDC recognises that a sound labour policy is crucial for building and sustaining a strong economy. In that regard the party makes its commitment that its government will ensure labour harmony and that every citizen has an opportunity to participate fairly in the labour market.

 There is no doubt that the provisions of work and labour enshrined in the new constitution were largely inspired by the MDC’s policy as has clearly been espoused in the new constitution which stipulates in section 2.13 that, all State and governmental institutions and agencies at every level must adopt reasonable policies and measures, within the resources available to them, to provide everyone with an opportunity to work in a freely chosen activity, in order to secure a decent living for themselves and their families.

 Rationally this can be made possible through full employment; just, equitable and satisfactory conditions of work, particularly with respect to adequate remuneration and equitable opportunity for promotion.

Such pledge coming from a party that remains crucial at this critical transition trajectory is welcome.

 The middle class can only sprout firstly if conditions to be employed are created. It is the duty of any serious government to create employment for its citizens.

A government that takes the nation for a ride by hiding behind its finger through enactment of opaque policies like the current indigenisation model of Zanu PF risks becoming unpopular.

 A serious empowerment model must never be hinged on counter-productive emotions of the past.

A sound policy simply seeks to be the panacea to people’s problems.

The empowerment policy of Zanu PF is obsessed with counter-productive colonial history.

Three decades after independence, we cannot continue riding on a delusional history of believing that our erstwhile colonisers are sabotaging our endeavours of development.

 A party that has been in power for two and half decades alone cannot at this moment craft policies that appear as if they intend to make erstwhile colonisers suffer instead of alleviating poverty.

What matters is food on the table, jobs for college and university graduates, sons and daughters who want to contribute meaningfully for the entire reconstruction of this country.

The MDC’s Jobs, Upliftment, Investment Capital and the Environment (JUICE) provides a promising approach to sustainable, inclusive and people-centred development.

It positions Zimbabwe as a national cake where the entire masses should all benefit contrary to the current scenario where a few cabal of political mongers continue to loot unashamedly the national wealth.

 Juice makes it clear that the biggest challenge that confronts the economy today is unemployment. Millions of youths face a bleak future with rising joblessness; which is a result of the growth stagnation of the economy.

Critical policy interventions are therefore necessary. Creation of jobs will automatically mean that the society we live in increasingly becomes safer.

It means scourges of HIV/Aids will be curbed as it has a lot to do with poverty. A sound labour framework will see the entire disappearance of youth militias who have been used by cunning politicians who exploit innocent youths’ desperation for employment.

 A society with lucrative employment is a conduit of democracy and peace. There won’t be conflicts, only constructive arguments on how best our country can be developed.

The MDC policy thrust on labour has set aside policy interventions aimed at making their policy framework a reality. Among the interventions is sustainable employment creation, which has Juice as its major source of reference. The party also aims at ensuring labour market policies.

 This will be made possible through promotion of and activation of training programmes to increase skills among the workers in partnerships with the private sector.

Such a policy will be put in place to promote the advancement of equal opportunities for all groups, including women, youth and people living with disabilities. Previous realities point to a situation where the people living with disabilities were considered as unproductive people viewed only as charity cases.

 The prowess and educational position of Zimbabwe in Africa and the rest of the world remain meaningless without employment creation.

We can’t have a country with the highest literacy in the continent failing to create employment.

It is a clear indicator that something is absolutely wrong as much as labour policy issues are concerned. - Alexander Rusero

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