Media Review: Labour Amendment Bill and the Languages Bill
On Tuesday 28 September 2021, the Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister, Monica Mutsvangwa announced that Cabinet had approved the Labour Amendment Bill and also had considered principles for the Languages Bill. This development was announced in a post-Cabinet media briefing.
Labour Amendment Bill
The Chronicle on Wednesday 29 September reported that Cabinet had considered and approved the Labour Amendment Bill, which makes provision for the promotion of ease of doing business in the labour market through streamlining of the labour dispute settlement and retrenchment processes.
The Bill is intended to align the current Labour Act with section 65 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 20) Act 2013, and international labour instruments. The Bill, also provides for the rights to fair and safe labour practices and standards.
It is imperative to note that the Bill takes care of emerging issues in the labour market such as labour broking, violence and harassment at the work place and emerging forms of employment relationships with a view to closing the lacuna in the existing legislation thus entrenching fair labour standards contemplated in section 65 of the Constitution.
The Bill has provisions which will deal with issues such as “gender-based violence” and other cases of violence and harassment at the work place. When passed into law, this Bill will go a long way in maintaining balance between guaranteeing employee rights and ensuring productivity in the workplace. The issue of dysfunctional fragmentation of unions in the various economic sectors vis-à-vis the right to freedom of association will also be provided for.
The Chronicle also reported that Cabinet had adopted the principles for the Languages Bill.
The principles of the Languages provided for issues relating to promotion of the country’s 16 officially recognized languages, in fulfillment of Section 6 of the Constitution. Among other things, the Languages Bill is intended to:
- Promote multilingualism and linguistic diversity in Zimbabwe
- Ensure the respect of language rights and/or linguistic preference as fundamental to the process of nationalism;
- Development of augmentative and alternative communication systems for people with impediments that inhibit communication;
- Recognition and promotion of languages as cultural wealth
- Establishment and maintenance of institutional structures, such as the National Languages Board, the National Languages Fund, and the Languages Database; and
- Equitable allocation of resources for the development of officially recognized languages.
The Inter-Ministerial Taskforce on the Alignment of Legislation to the Constitution (IMT) is working with the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare to align the Labour Amendment Act with the Constitution. The IMT is also supporting the coming up of the Languages Bill. The Bill seeks to promote the country’s 16 officially recognised languages, in terms of Section 6 of the Constitution.
The IMT tracks all pieces of legislation which are going through the alignment processes through an instrument referred to as the IMT Bill Tracker. A bill tracker reflects the status of laws which are being aligned with the constitution of Zimbabwe.