Misihairabwi-Mushonga says Parliament is hoodwinking workers


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Movement for Democratic Change-Ncube legislator Priscillah Misihairabwi-Mushonga yesterday accused Members of Parliament of trying to be populist by ignoring an adverse report on the Labour Amend Bill by the Parliamentary Legal Committee saying their move would not benefit workers.

“We put that Parliamentary legal Committee because we believe that it should be able to advise us but if we are now sitting here and say we do not want because we want to be populists – more power to you like I said. But, as far as I am concerned, it is a war that we have not won and we are lying to the majority of those who are suffering – the workers,” she told Parliament.

Misihairabwi-Mushonga said by bulldozing the bill through, it would be challenged in court and workers would lose.

“Let us not box ourselves but let us learn to think outside the box. I would have thought that what we would have done today is to say that the Minister and the Parliamentary Legal Committee perhaps need to sit down and say, how do we begin to address this because it is a real issue that we have 20 000 people who were fired.

“So what we should be doing now is, what is possible under these circumstances and how do we redraft this to put it in a context where there is some relief that we can give to these people that have been fired. We try and do that by pretending that you are going to override. Like I am saying, I have no problem going with this, knowing pretty well that the issues of access and affordability to justice are a problem. You are going to get these workers going back to the same Supreme Court,” she said.

 

Full contribution:

 

MRS. MISIHAIRABWI-MUSHONGA: Thank you very much Madam Chair. I think what we need to do as we consider the Parliamentary Legal Committee Report, is not to mix issues. There are issues of the merits which are in the Bill which we need to debate.

There is no-one who is arguing. I do not think that even the Parliamentary Legal Committee is arguing against the issues of justice  and fairness around the workers. Let us separate that. What the adverse report is talking to is the issue of retrospectivity. That is an issue that we need to deal with, not necessarily for ourselves because we can all go home and sleep and hope we have done well when we know that at the end of day, there are going to be court challenges to which that very worker that you are claiming you are going to be defending is going to sit in that court.

I am sad the Hon. Chinamasa is not here, each time we have debated issues here, the issue of saying you cannot come up with a law that is retrospective has always come up. I am surprised that today because we want to be populists and pretend to be doing something when we know we are not. Let me refer you to the Constitution, Section 70 (k), whilst it is talking about the issue around criminal law but it is very clear and states, ‘not to be convicted of an act or omission that was not an offence when it took place;’ I cannot beat a wife today when there is no law against beating wives and then come back and say, because now we have a law you can beat up a wife. It is obvious and clear. In my opinion, let us not create a situation.

No one from the Parliamentary Legal Committee including some of us that are talking about this issue of rule of law is talking about the merits of the Bill. When we get to the merits of the Bill, we are very clear it is an issue of justice and fairness. Let us go there, but let us not mix up the issue of justice and fairness with the issue of rule of law. For anyone who is a lawyer, to come up here and want to justify that you can generally do that- I understand that some people are saying, ‘we have done it in other circumstances.’ Doing a wrong thing does not mean you justify doing it. If it was done wrongly during the land reform and we fast tracked something, it does not necessarily say – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

THE CHAIRPERSON: Order! Order, hon. members. Order in the House. Order! Please, order! Order, hon. members. Order! Can the hon. member be heard in silence? If you have something to debate on, you will have your chance. – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.]

MRS. MISIHAIRABWI-MUSHONGA: It is only the Madam Chair who can get me to sit down not anyone. The part that I am trying to buttress and emphasise is that we cannot do something because it was done before. If we passed things because we did not follow the procedure, it does not necessarily mean that we have to continue to do exactly the same thing even if we know that it is wrong. Madam Chair, the Constitution is a product of this very Parliament. It has never been different from any other Constitution because other constitutions, members do not participate in coming up with that Constitution. How do you justify coming up with a Constitution and you become the people who violate that very thing that you have come up with?

So, let us not box ourselves but let us learn to think outside the box. I would have thought that what we would have done today is to say that the Minister and the Parliamentary Legal Committee perhaps need to sit down and say, how do we begin to address this because it is a real issue that we have 20 000 people who were fired. So what we should be doing now is, what is possible under these circumstances and how do we redraft this to put it in a context where there is some relief that we can give to these people that have been fired. We try and do that by pretending that you are going to override. Like I am saying, I have no problem going with this, knowing pretty well that the issues of access and affordability to justice are a problem. You are going to get these workers going back to the same Supreme Court. Madam Chair, some of us know that one of the fundamental problems which we were going to raise when we were dealing with the merits of the Bill is that, it has raised some of the issues that we have raised before.

If anyone was to go back, what we have now is a Supreme Court ruling – the Zuva Supreme Court ruling. If you were to go back and  have the people going back to a Constitutional Court – because as we are sitting in here, we are having people arguing on this particular point. So, whether you accept the issue of the adverse report or not, it has become a legal contentious issue. If anything becomes contentious, it means that somebody is going to have to arbitrate and somebody will have to make a decision and we know that that decision will have to be made in the same courts. We have four people who sat during the time of the Supreme Court and they will probably add five more to make up the Constitutional Court and the chance is that the workers will not win this particular war.

So, in fact we have done nothing but like I said, if people want to pretend that they are doing good and have a good night’s sleep and pretend that they have done well for the workers, more power to you.

But, as far as some of us are concerned, we should be able to listen to our legal people. We put that Parliamentary legal Committee because  we believe that it should be able to advise us but if we are now sitting here and say we do not want because we want to be populists – more power to you like I said. But, as far as I am concerned, it is a war that we have not won and we are lying to the majority of those who are suffering – the workers. I thank you.

 

(248 VIEWS)

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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