Petros Zivengwa Correspondent
President Mnangagwa recently successfully launched the Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF), making it a historic event which took 20 years to see the light of day after its proposal in 1998. The President also signed the TNF into law (Act No.3 of 2019) in a bid to capacitate the forum with a full potential to amicably solve political, economic and social differences using a “round-table approach”.
Indeed, this is a positive step in the right direction towards attracting investors and walking the talk of “Zimbabwe’s is Open for Business” mantra primarily in the context of encouraging the culture of dialogue, negotiations and mutual relations between Government, business and social partners.
TNF basically creates a level ground where the government, business, trade unions, and other social parties can deliberate on issues pertaining to political, economic and social challenges bedevilling a country.
The launch of the forum and the decision by Government to sign it into law embraces the global standards of labour particularly the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention on Tripartite Consultations as well as chapter VI Article 33 of the United Nations Charter, which also identifies negotiations, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, or other peaceful means as best methods of conflict resolution.
Addressing delegates at the official launch of the Forum in Harare, President Mnangagwa reiterated that differing positions and perspectives were permissible, but however, castigated a militant attitude, which he said provided a conducive environment for conflicts.
“In the Second Republic, let us shun the culture of militancy, disharmony and demonstrations.
“We must develop greater understanding of each other’s perspective because each one of us has a duty, like one writer says, “most problems would disappear if people talked to each other more instead of talking about each other,” said the President.
The President’s remarks came at a time when social media was awash with messages purportedly from trade unions and opposition leaders encouraging the public to engage in violent protests as the ultimate solution to the economic challenges currently felt across the country.
But violent protests do not bring solutions to domestic problems nor attract sympathy and investors from the international community.
Instead, it brings agony, destroys public and private properties
similar to what the country witnessed in August 2018 and January 2019
respectively, when properties were destroyed and goods worth millions of
United States Dollars were looted.
This kept the country on the global spotlight, with negative coverage coming from the global media.
Political and economic analysts have constantly warned that violent protests hinder the brand of the country as one of the tourist destinations with loads of investment opportunities.
Most African countries notably Somalia, Mali, Libya, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Sudan, South Sudan among others have been plunged into war zones characterised by endless cycles of ethnic conflicts, insurgences and terrorism owing to the culture of violence instigated by foreign actors and embraced by their citizens in the course of their history.
While the United Nations and African Union have tried to pacify the conflicts and create roadmaps for sustainable peace in these countries, scientific researches into these problems reveal that conflict recurrence remain the order of the day.
Taking this into perspective, Zimbabweans should take a leaf from such developments and realise that the culture of violence and barbaric actions can lead the country to unprecedented levels of disharmony and hardships, which in many cases may be difficult for the international institutions such as UN and AU to solve.
One prominent scholar in international relations Colonel Dr Sadiki Maeresera reiterated in one of his writings that since national interests are the primary motivating factor for any country’s interactions with other states, the mandates of international institutions are affected heavily by the interest of the nations who influence them particularly the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) permanent five members.
As such, it takes Zimbabweans to shun the culture of violence and embrace the TNF as the panacea to the current economic and political problems.
Contrary to what has been published in other circles of the media that the TNF outlaws demonstrations, strikes, protests and Government’s device to silence the general populace, the TNF clearly spells out that all these destructive means of expressing disgruntlements are not forbidden, but should be the last resort after negotiations and other peaceful engagements.
Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister, Dr Sekai Nzenza said TNF was only a mechanism to facilitate dialogue between the Government and various stakeholders in the broader political, social and economic landscape.
“There is a misconception of TNF, but let me categorically make it clear that Government cannot stop people from going on strike, but there should be negotiations first and in the event that such negotiations fail to bring desired results then we should see people going on strike and staging demonstrations as provided for in the constitution,” said Dr Nzenza.
She added that once the members of the TNF were well coordinated, her ministry would meet regularly to discuss socio-economic problems and pass them to Cabinet for further deliberations.
In an interview, Retired Brigadier General and Chiredzi South legislator Honorable Kalisto Gwanetsa said TNF acknowledges that conflict is inevitable in any society and stresses the need for concerned parties especially Government, civic society, labour and business to deliberate on their differences and reach common ground before such differences spill into hostilities and violence.
“TNF is a step in good direction towards cultivating sustainable national peace and good diplomatic relations because differences are inevitable in our day to day lives, but there should be a round-table where these differences are discussed and a common ground reached without bloodshed or destruction of property,” he said.
He added that in diplomatic cycles, negotiation has the power to yield the domestic and foreign policy aspirations of a country easily compared to other forms of diplomatic negotiations.
The Government needs to embrace the founding principles and make sure that the political and economic trajectories of the country are followed in the best interest of the public and any other stakeholders.
The European Union also entered into historic diplomatic negotiations with Zimbabwe as Government intensifies re-engagement efforts with erstwhile friends.
If peace and stability in the country is anything to go by, TNF is the way to go!