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Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique ministers talk labour

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Minister of labour from Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique have said the labour sector needs to be significantly revamped so that its contribution to the economies of the three countries is maximised.

The three ministers— Malawi’s Henry Mussa, Zambia’s Joyce Nonde Simukoko and Mozambique’s Victoria Diego—said low funding for labour activities, disparities in minimum wages and unregulated private employment agencies are some issues which frustrate labour engagements.

In separate interviews on Tuesday in Salima, the three officials who are having a two-day discussion on labour matters—under the International Labour Organisation (ILO)—said their three countries share the same labour problems such that it is imperative to discuss them together.

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Mussa said poor funding in the ministries of labour for the three countries has compelled the ministers who agreed to meet quarterly every year to ask the ILO to lobby for increased funding to the portfolios.

“You cannot talk about being a service provider in labour without proper, efficient service delivery. In fact issues of poor funding for labour interventions are not only common to our three countries and elsewhere too.

“So we have to ask ourselves why the national budgets for the ministries of labour is small when these are very crucial ministries in as far as economic development is concerned,” said Mussa.

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Mussa added that among others, the three countries have been faced with unregulated labour migration to countries within the Sadc region which need serious discussions.

On her part, Simukoko said while the three countries share similar labour struggles, there are areas where some are doing better which can be replicated by their colleagues.

“What is important is for us to conclude quickly and come up with a plan of action. We are supposed to sign a memorandum of understanding in the near future,” said Simukoko.

She added that setting minimum wages can only be possible if the labour sector is organised, particularly the informal sector which is key in economic growth.

Diego said a country cannot set up policies and develop if it does not take into account labour, employment and social security.

“So we believe that in exchanging our views, we are enhancing and consolidating our roles in our respective countries,” she said.

Director of ILO Country Office for Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique, Alexio Musindo, said the meeting is also significant because it looks at the treatment of workers who migrate among the three countries.

He said this means the labour ministries should be empowered by having enough resources.

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