THE Special Economic Zones (SEZs) Bill sailed through committee stage on Thursday despite protests from opposition legislators, who argued that the Bill had an adverse clause, which contravened labour rights.
Source: SEZs Bill sail through despite protestations – NewsDay Zimbabwe May 16, 2016
by VENERANDA LANGA
The Bill was brought before the National Assembly by Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa, where clause 56 proposes to exempt investors licensed in the zones from the provisions of the Labour Act, as well as the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act.
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions has already raised its concerns over the same clause.
Mufakose MP Paurina Mpariwa (MDC-T) noted with concern that Chinamasa had brought a Bill that could inflict more suffering on Zimbabwean workers.
“I note with concern that we want to put aside the Labour Act simply because we want to please investors at the expense of our own human beings,” she said.
“What it means is that workers in the SEZs have no rights at all, and as MPs, we have a duty to protect and serve the voiceless people who cannot represent themselves by crafting user-friendly laws.”
Leader of the opposition MDC-T in the National Assembly Thokozani Khupe called on government to prioritise workers’ rights despite its desperation for foreign direct investments.
“What it means is that if the Labour Act is not going to apply in SEZ, workers will be hired and fired, given low wages and made to work longer hours,” she lamented.
The only Zanu PF legislator who said the clause was against workers’ rights and ultra vires section 51 of the Constitution was Bikita West MP Munyaradzi Kereke.
“Where every other protection given to the worker by the labour laws has been stripped off, it violates, without doubt in my mind, section 51 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe,” he said.
Despite the protestations over the clause in the SEZ Bill, Chinamasa refused to remove it.
“For now, this Bill has passed through the Parliamentary Legal Committee (PLC) and it means there is no violation of the Constitution,” he said.
MPs had to vote for the passage of the clause, and committee stage of the Bill sailed through after all the 75 Zanu PF MPs present outvoted the 22 opposition MPs in the House.
The Bill was referred to the PLC for further scrutiny.