PRESIDENT Mnangagwa has said the Government is considering an employment insurance scheme for workers as part of measures to mitigate the impact of global pandemics and consequent loss of jobs in future.
While addressing a virtual meeting of heads of State, labour unions and employers, that was convened by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), yesterday the President said although Covid-19 has resulted in loss of lives and livelihoods, global unity would result in success in combating the novel virus.
Zimbabwe, just like most of the world nations has not been spared by the global plague, but has put in place a raft of measures, as recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to curb the spread of the contagion, he said.
“My country, like other member states, has not been spared from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Zimbabwe recorded its first Covid-19 case on March 19, 2020, and to date has registered nine deaths and 885 positive cases.
To mitigate the impact, Zimbabwe deployed a number of strategies and interventions, key among them was the implementation of a national lockdown beginning on level 5 to the present level 2. Concurrently, an aggressive information campaign was undertaken to promote the World Health Organisation guidelines on the prevention and management of the pandemic.
The President said Zimbabwe’s number one priority was to save lives, something that impacted some facets of the economy.
“My Government took a deliberate decision to prioritise the saving of lives. The lockdown measures saw the closing down of non-essential industries, businesses and our informal sector. This had dire consequences and far reaching impact on workers and employers alike. Strategic decisions and actions to maintain the long-term stability of employers while cushioning employees from the pandemic’s adverse effects on livelihoods then became necessary.
“It is against this backdrop that our national taskforce on Covid-19 began robust dialogue and engagements to receive recommendations from our tripartite negotiating forum with regard to workplace interventions on Covid-19. I am pleased that some of the key interventions that my Government is promoting include the following; protection of frontline staff and workers in general through the provision of protective personal equipment, mandatory social distancing, the wearing of masks as well as hand washing. Protection of critically affected economic sectors through a relief fund. Consideration of an employment insurance scheme to mitigate loss of jobs during situations similar to this Covid-19 period,” he said.
Since the first reported case of Covid-19 on March 19, Zimbabwe has taken measures that experts say helped in mitigating the impact of the flu-like plague and rolled out an $18 billion rescue package to help distressed companies, individuals and small companies.
The President told the conference, that was chaired by ILO director-general Guy Ryder, that Zimbabwe is prepared to adopt and implement recommendations from the international labour organisation so as to assist workers, who have been adversely affected by the pandemic.
“My Government welcomes this global summit and looks forward to the adoption of concrete proposals to enable us to implement recovery plans from Covid-19. We further stand ready to join the ILO in the implementation of agreed measures and proposals,” President Mnangagwa said.
The global summit that was held under the theme, “Building a Better Future of Work” comes at a time when the Government has rolled out cushioning allowances for its employees and is also engaged in negotiations with workers and employers under the tripartite negotiating forum.