Godfrey Marawanyika/ Shakeman Mugari
BUSINESS leaders and labour yesterday snubbed a National Economic Consultative Forum (NECF) meeting on price stabilisation, a move that once again throws into question th
e relevence on the forum to economic revival.
The meeting, addressed by Labour minister Paul Mangwana, was poorly attended. Only 64 instead of 228 invited delegates came. Most stakeholders sent junior officers as observers. There were also a number of reserved tables that remained vacant throughout the meeting which lasted the whole day.
Acting Finance minister Herbert Murerwa was one of the prominent absentees from the meeting despite being invited by the forum. He had been expected to make a speech.
The Zimbabwe Con-gress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI), and Zesa Holdings also did not attend despite having been invited. The three organisations are key economic players who were expected to contribute to the discussion on prices and wage increases.
There were no bankers or hoteliers and institutional talking heads who had become a common sight at what has now labelled a national talk show. However, the government-backed Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions did attend.
Addressing the few delegates at the meeting, Mangwana said the tripartite negotiating forum (TNF) would continue with or without the ZCTU’s participation.
“Considering the urgency with which we have to address some issues of our economy, the TNF has to continue with those who can participate in the national interest,” he said.
“I am happy to say the TNF agreed that we should proceed and leave the door open for ZCTU to rejoin,” he said.
The ZCTU has said they will only re-join the TNF sometime in September. The ZCTU pulled out of the TNF in April last year after government unilaterally increased the price of fuel without the consent of the social partners.
“We did what we did because as government we look at the broader framework when designing a national framework,” Mangwana said. “As government we should protect the farmers, unemployed, and everybody, that is why we did what we did (increasing fuel) and as government everything rests on our shoulders.”
NECF spokesperson Dennis Rwafa failed to explain why business leaders and Zesa officials failed to attend the meeting.
“We sent invites to them and they did not turn up for the meeting. We don’t know why they did that,” Rwafa said.
“But I can assure you they would have been grilled in the meeting had they come.”