August 12, 2020

Covid-19 to claim a million jobs in Zimbabwe

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Takudzwa Chihambakwe

The coronavirus pandemic is set to leave a third of Zimbabwean workers unemployed by the end of 2020. According to the 2019 Labour Force and Child Labour Survey conducted by ZimStats, only 2.9 million people are employed in Zimbabwe in both the formal and informal sector. This means that close to 960 000 workers will lose their jobs.

The situation is similar to what is obtaining on the global labour market with a recent report by the International Labour Organisation (ILO Monitor: COVID-19 and the world of work. Fifth edition Updated estimates and analysis) stating that at least 340 million full time jobs will be lost in the last quarter of 2020.

“Our estimate is that probably a third of jobs in the formal sector will either be lost or redundant or people will not be fully employed by year end,” said Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe (EMCOZ) president, Dr Israel Murefu. 

“This is because we have restrictions for example in operating hours. If you are working a shift it will be very difficult to run beyond the set deadline of 3pm unless one has been granted authority.

“These restrictions will make demand for labour to fall and also as capacity utilisation drops, the demand for labour also falls.”

According to the aforementioned ILO report, factors driving the decline in working hours vary from country to country. In some countries as highlighted by Dr Murefu, shorter working hours are a driver as well as being employed but not working.

Continued Dr Murefu, “I think you will be aware that some companies have just asked employees to stay at home. Some with capacity are paying those employees but those that may not have capacity would have to make arrangements with their unions to say maybe workers go on unpaid leave for some time and then when the situation improves you can then come back.

“So when I say a third I am looking at people that may totally lose their jobs or others that may be working intermittently or are not fully occupied in terms of having employment. But remember, these are estimates based on the reports we get from members of EMCOZ. We will get more refined data from ZimStats.”

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