REPORTS that Zimbabwe is considering an employment insurance scheme for workers to mitigate the impact of global pandemics make for interesting reading.
In the words of President Emmerson Mnangagwa in a virtual meeting of heads of State, labour unions and employers, that was organised by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Zimbabwe, just like the rest of the world, was severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Consequently, many jobs were lost and, in our case, we are now poorer.
While the President’s statement and consideration is laudable, the feasibility to achieve that remains doubtful given happenings in the past where workers lost their employment, savings and sources of income and nothing has been done.
Think of the savings workers lost in 2008 during the hyperinflationary era, it’s too ghastly to contemplate.
Talk of the massive job losses brought about by the July 2015 Supreme Court judgment that ruled in favour of employer, Zuva Petroleum, in a judgment that triggered mass job terminations.
All that left many unemployed and without proper compensation and that is what needs to be addressed first — job security, creation of many employment opportunities to ensure people get back to the industries and Zimbabwe starts to work again.
Anything outside that can only make people think that consideration of workers insurance is mere talk and will amount to nothing outside that.
The real elephant in the room is the need to create employment, then we can talk of considering workers’ insurance.
Talk of getting priorities right.
People continue to lose jobs as the economy totters and the priority now for the government should be to create employment and then consider employment insurance schemes.
We cannot pretend to be sharing the same world vision with other nations when unemployment is around 95% in the country.
Millions of Zimbabweans who are supposed to be formally employed are in the informal sector, toiling days on end to eke out an honest living.
While Mnangagwa thinks the view to come up with an employment insurance scheme for workers as part of measures to alleviate the impact of global pandemics, COVID-19 being an example, is a noble idea, what is needed now is to have people formally employed then anything to have them benefit post-working period can be considered.
Mnangagwa told fellow leaders how Zimbabwe had acted in trying to mitigate the impact of COVID-19, mainly by providing a cushioning allowance that was set to be given to the vulnerable.
There has not been any clear feedback on who has received the facility that was to see deserving individuals receiving $200. This now clearly has been swept by hyperinflation and enough to buy only three loaves of bread.
An $18 billion rescue package to help distressed companies, individuals and small companies was also set up but we have no feedback which companies were resuscitated through the facility.
What we have before us, however, are daily cases of companies closing and jobs being lost.
The will is there and we salute the consideration but as long as there is no clear plan to create employment or opportunities first, it will be just tagging along with other countries despite that their problems and ours are clearly not the same.