Incorporate worker rights: Zuma

South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma has called on African governments to play a critical role in setting up appropriate development policies and incorporating worker rights in their constitutions.

South African President Jacob Zuma outlined a new policy for development.
South African President Jacob Zuma outlined a new policy for development.

Zimbabwe is one of the many African countries bedevilled by a high unemployment rate and brain drain, while the suppression of worker movements has become commonplace.

Opening the 12th African Regional Meeting of the International Labour Organisation here, Zuma said:

“To many people, the idea of decent work in Africa may seem like a pipedream given the history of our continent, which has endured periods of slavery, colonialism, neo-colonialism and forced labour.”

He added that the New Partnership for Africa’s Development would chart a new path of development and progress.

“This path should naturally not leave the African workers behind and as South Africans, we ensured that we include worker rights in the Constitution of the Republic. The inclusion of worker rights in the Constitution was not by accident. It was due to the pivotal role played by the labour movement in our country, in fighting colonial oppression and apartheid and the labour movement decided that there could be no freedom on the shop floor without political freedom. The workers of our country therefore earned their place in the Constitution of the country.

“Many African countries have experienced an under-utilisation of labour, an outflow of skilled labour, low levels of development of manufacturing activity and a reliance on resources,” said Zuma, in apparent reference to Zimbabwe.

He also rallied support for the informal sector and bridging programmes between the informal and formal sectors, moving towards improved social security for the African people.

“When we look beyond our borders to the continent, stimulating employment will also require the creation of a supportive environment and such a supportive environment includes the development of proper infrastructure,” added Zuma.

He praised the regional integration of SADC-East African Community and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, which will create a market of 26 countries with a combined population of nearly 600 million people and a total GDP of approximately $624 billion.

“One of the greatest spin offs should be jobs and an improved quality of life,” he said.

The theme of the ILO conference was “Empowering Africa’s Peoples with Decent Work’’ and Zimbabwe was represented by Minister of Labour and Social Services, Pualina Mpariwa, officials from the department, the National Social Security Association, the Employers' Confederation of Zimbabwe and the ZCTU.

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