The Zambia Federation of Employers (ZFE) has threatened to drag Minister of Higher Education Brian Mushimba to court for failing to appoint a Board at the Technical Education, Vocational and Entrepreneurship Training Authority (TEVETA).
ZFE President Myra Ngoma said the minister and his predecessor had failed to appoint a board for the Authority to enable industry stakeholders such as ZFE and its affiliate provide an oversight role in skills development and promotion of Entrepreneurship in the country.
Mrs Ngoma said it is a constitutional requirement that the minister of Higher Education should put in place a board at TEVETA, which has not been done for the last four years.
The Federation of Employers however commended government for acquiring a commercial farm for the Zambia Air Force (ZAF) to engage in agricultural productivity.
Mrs Ngoma urged President Lungu to extend the initiative to the Zambia National Service (ZNS) for acquisition of and management of state farms on behalf of government for mass production of agricultural products.
The Union leader speaking at celebrations to mark International Labour whose theme was “Promoting Industrialisation through Productivity, Decent Work and Sustainable Economic Growth amidst Covid 19”, said such a development can assist in addressing the high levels of unemployment among youths in the country.
Mrs Ngoma appealed to President Edgar Lungu officiated at the event to ensure that the Tobacco and Nicotine Bill under the Ministry of Health should be withdrawn from parliament to accommodate for wider consultation.
She said the bill in its current format caters only for the health and safety reasons and ignores the economic benefits of the crop especially that under the 7NDP, Tobacco has been listed as a cardinal crop to drive the country’s agricultural diversification agenda.
Mrs Ngoma pointed out that the effects of the Covid 19 have adversely affected the labour market and economy and that it would take time to turn around things.
She disclosed that according to a study conducted by SADC and ILO on the impact of Covid 19 on the labour market, it will take no later than the year 2025 to get back to the pre-covid socio-economic conditions of 2019.
The ZFE Leader said such a scenario spells doom for employment in Zambia and the SADC region hence the need for government and stakeholders to explore ways of creating employment.
Mrs Ngoma further called for increased budgetary allocation to the Ministry of Labour for the promotion of the productivity policy in the country.
And Zambia Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU) President Chishimba Nkole praised government’s response, handling and management of the Covid 19 pandemic in the country.
Mr Nkole said at a time when other countries were locking down their economies, President Lungu took the interests of workers and ensured that the country’s economy continued operating normally without affecting the socio-economic welfare of Zambians.
The trade union leader however bemoaned the high levels of poverty and unemployment in the country with the cost of living being high for most Zambian homes.
Mr Nkole said the gap between the rich and the poor, especially the worker keeps widening amidst increasing exploitation and abuse of workers’ rights.
He said there is need respect the rights of workers and a need for decent work and conditions of service if productivity is to be achieved.
Mr Nkole urged government to cushion the plight of workers with increased social protection programmes and improved working environments and protection of workers’ rights.
And ILO Country Director for Zambia, Malawi and Zimbabwe George Okutho observed that the Covid 19 pandemic has devastated the Zambian economy especially the tourism sector, among others and the labour market.
Mr Okutho observed that many workers had lost employment while enterprises have had their productive capacity curtailed.
The ILO Director however commended government for the social protection programmes it has put in place to mitigate the impact of the Covid 19 pandemic.
Mr Okutho said the financial stimulus package for Small and Medium Enterprises and the emergency Cash transfer for vulnerable households and persons has helped to bring some relief to Zambians.
He said the theme for the 2021 Labour Day celebrations of “Promoting Industrialisation through Productivity, Decent Work and Sustainable Economic Growth amidst Covid 19” resonates well with ILO conviction that industrialization must promote import substitution, increase productivity and respect human dignity.
Mr Okutho urged government to tackle youth unemployment, expansion and extension of social protection to vulnerable Zambians, enhance skills development, promote uptake of renewable energy and promote social dialogue among stakeholders.
And Minister of Labour Joyce Nonde assured that the tripartite partners will work to ensure that there are less job cuts in the country amidst the ravaging Covid 19 pandemic.