By Alois Vinga
THE Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has made a clarion call for Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube to place job creation at the heart of the 2023 National Budget set to be tabled before Parliament today.
Despite the official unemployment rate in the country hovering at around 20%, the country’s citizens are more worried about the quality of jobs under which they are being classified by using internationally accepted broad definitions which for instance considers a person who has earned US$1 within a seven days period as employed.
As a result, labour is worried about the depletion of formal decent jobs and the rise of survivalist informal work which has left the majority of citizens being paid wages which are way below the poverty datum line.
Confirming the desperate situation confronting workers in the country, the 2nd Quarter Labour Force Survey published by the government-run Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZIMSTAT) shows that 62% of the employed population earned income of less than $20 000 as of April 2022 , equivalent to US$60 on the parallel market with 2,3 million youths loafing on the streets.
“Proactive employment in the Zimbabwean context will go a long way to enhance production in the economy and promote inclusive growth by building and strengthening value chains and clusters across various sectors of the economy. The agriculture sector for instance, has unique opportunities,” said the ZCTU submission.
The labour group believes that there is also a need to promote transition from subsistence to commercial agriculture; and informality to formality in order to create decent jobs.
“Government needs to expedite the implementation of parastatal and state-owned enterprises reforms as these have remained a major albatross to the Zimbabwean economy.
“Audit reports by the Auditor General have continued to expose poor corporate governance, fraudulent activities, financial irregularities and weaknesses in the internal control systems at most of the parastatals and government departments,” said ZCTU.
Labour believes that improving the investment environment to incentivise greater job creation by the private sector can be the way to go towards promotion of employment and the urgent need to cushion workers through linking tax-free threshold to the Poverty Datum Line.
“Under high inflation, wider tax bands generate higher disposable incomes. We also propose that the maximum tax rate be pegged at 30%. Other tax incentives for retrenchment, pensions and other benefits should also be reviewed to ensure that working people have more money in their pockets,” added ZCTU.