Friday, October 06, 2006

Zimbabwe News Update: Government Denies Assault on ZCTU Leader

Zim denies trade union's assault claims

Harare - The Zimbabwe government has denied claims by the main labour union that more than a dozen of its members were assaulted in police custody following foiled street protests last month, it was reported on Friday.

Members of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) were injured while trying to resist arrest by jumping off police vehicles, Deputy Home Affairs Minister Reuben Marumahoko told parliament on Thursday.

No one was assaulted in the police cells and the police used minimum force, the state-controlled Herald newspaper quoted the minister as saying during a debate.

On Tuesday a Harare magistrate dismissed an internal police investigation that exonerated the alleged perpetrators of the assaults and ordered a probe by detectives from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) instead.

Magistrate William Bhila also postponed the trial of 31 ZCTU protesters until October 17, as several of the union members were still nursing injuries including fractured arms, fingers and bruises - they allegedly received in police custody.

The ZCTU had called the September 13 protests to push for higher wages, greater access to anti-Aids drugs and an end to Zimbabwe's worsening economic crisis. The brutal behaviour of the police has provoked widespread criticism both in Zimbabwe and abroad.

Last week the UN country team in Zimbabwe said it viewed with profound dismay the apparent condoning of the police action by the authorities here.

Top government officials, including President Robert Mugabe have said they were satisfied with the way the police behaved.

Published on the Web by IOL on 2006-10-06 11:37:59

Labour, business urged to shun confrontation

EMPLOYERS and workers should work together and not adopt a confrontational attitude so as to overcome the country’s economic challenges, an expert has said.

Opening the Employers’ Confederation of Zimbabwe (Emcoz) negotiating skills workshop, International Labour Organisation senior specialist, employers’ activities for the sub-regional office for Southern Africa, Mr Hezron Njuguna, urged employers and their workers to negotiate to resolve conflicts.

"Workers and employers should not fight against each but fight for the viability of the enterprises which they work for," he said.

"The two parties cannot divorce themselves from each other for it will be costly and damaging for their enterprises."

Mr Njuguna said it was time the two parties negotiated with each other sincerely and come up with initiatives to keep companies solvent, adding that participants should take advantage of the workshop to refine their negotiating skills.

He expressed confidence that Zimbabwe would recover from the economic challenges it faces as other countries had faced similar problems and had overcome them.

Mr Njuguna said the ILO would continue to support Emcoz and employees in ensuring that both parties work together for the benefit of the country’s development.

Emcoz senior vice-president Mr David Govere said it was imperative to recognise that the three constituencies — Government, labour and business — played an equally important role in wage negotiations.

"It would be folly to think that one constituency is more important than another, let us put away our AK47s and just talk," he said.

He said the parties should show a great degree of empathy based on the understanding of the difficulties facing each participant.

Mr Govere said the need to acquire negotiating skills was made even more urgent as the country faces the spectre of an inflation rate of up to 4 000 percent in 2007.

The training consultant, Mr Petros Mandaza, said negotiations were crucial as they avoided court hearings and strikes by the labour force, a situation that would further damage the productivity levels of companies.

He urged both employers and workers to be aware of the legal framework and implications when engaging in negotiations.

The workshop, which ends today, aims to provide participants with the theory and practice of negotiations and to identify issues for negotiation.

New Ziana

‘Zim must resolve challenges to integrate into regional economy’

ZIMBABWE needs to resolve its economic challenges quickly so as to enhance its capacity to integrate into the regional and global economy, Finance Minister Dr Herbert Murerwa said on Wednesday.

Dr Murerwa said the economy was faced with many challenges hence the need to improve foreign currency inflows, tackle inflation, create employment, increase capacity utilisation in industry, increase productivity in the agriculture sector and, above all, reduce poverty among the people.

"Failure to address these challenges limits our capacity to integrate in the regional and global economy," the minister said.

He said the ravages of inflation and the resultant price instability had eroded the people’s purchasing power.

He was speaking at the official opening of a Zimbabwe Economic Policy Analysis and Research Unit (Zeparu) workshop, which is running under the theme, "Zimbabwe Economic Policy Management in a Globalising World".

The minister called on participants to the workshop to identify practical policy options that would enable the Government to tap into the economies of other countries for the nation’s development.

The current set-up in the international economy was such that countries depended on each other through technology, investment and trade as well as finance, he said.

"The ability of a country to extract gains from other economies to a large extent is a function of how the country manages its economic policies," he said.

"It is therefore my wish that during the deliberations of this conference, participants will identify practical policy options that will enable Zimbabwe to extract such gains."

The two-day workshop, is being attended by stakeholders from both the Government and the private sector, as well as economists and academics, and seeks to provide stakeholders with a platform to discuss policy challenges facing the economy and measures to address them.

Zeparu seeks to build sustainable indigenous capacity in the area of macro-economic policy analysis and management for use by Government institutions responsible for the various aspects of macro-economic policy formulation and implementation.

Its core activities are policy analysis, research and training.

Since its launch two years ago, the unit has carried out a number of research and training activities, with some of the work being commissioned by the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Economic Development, Ministry of Agriculture and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

In addition to research, Zeparu is contributing to the continuous capacity building efforts in Government ministries and department as well as the University of Zimbabwe economics department.

New Ziana

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