Speech given by Ms Vimbai Nyemba at the launch of Labour Law in Zimbabwe

Speech given by Ms Vimbai Nyemba, President of the Law Society on the occasion of the launch of Labour Law in Zimbabwe by Lovemore Madhuku

9 September, 2015

I am pleased to welcome you to the occasion of the publication of this Labour Law book.

I extend a special welcome to the author, Professor Lovemore Madhuku. We are privileged to honour you at this occasion and to celebrate the publication of this extra ordinary volume with you.

Ladies and gentlemen Professor Madhuku’s book, Labour Law in Zimbabwe, simplifies the Law of Labour and unpacks it for the students and for every person who wants to understand labour law, more so in the Zimbabwean context. I wish it had been published after the recent Supreme Court rulings but all the same it explains the intention of the Law clearly on issues of termination of Contracts of employment. The book explains extensively the relationship of employer and employee and defines the nature of such relationships.

Termination of a contract of employment is a big issue, no wonder it takes 33,10% of the whole book. From pages 87 to 274 it’s all about termination. Our Labour Courts are busy all the time with issues of termination. Professor Madhuku makes it sound simple because he says

“the starting point is to answer the following question: What is the applicable law? Put differently, is it common law or statute or a mixture of both? As a general rule, the common law applies if there is no clear statutory provision to the contrary”.

Simple isn’t it?

The book covers all aspects of the contract of employment from formation to termination. It speaks to the relationship of the parties during the course of the contract and also covers International Labour Law.

Dear Friends and Colleagues, we live in a world where the employer – employee relationship is no longer that of Master and Servant but we are in an era where the employee’s rights are respected as human rights and they are indeed human rights. The employer – employee relationship is always affected by the economic and political situation of each country. In an economically stable environment, the relationship blooms like petunia in spring time. Interpretation of the law will not be influenced by external forces. In a Country like Zimbabwe the labour laws are interpreted of course with the influence of the political and the economic challenges. When the labour laws were put in place after independence, the employer was the white man and the employee was the black man, the law then was supposed to be patriotic and revolutionary and was supposed to turn the tables upside down.

Thirty years down the line, the employer is black and so is the employee. The patriotism of the law begins to bite the law-maker who is black and now an employer. The patriotic employee holds on to the rights given after independence and the silent fight begins. All of a sudden the Courts begin to interpret the law to suite the shift of the tables and the law-makers convene in an emergency to draft a law with a retrospective effect hum, it’s a bit chaotic isn’t it?

The chaos needs to be cleared and the publication of this book comes handy to all of us as it has happened in the middle of this chasm.

Professor Lovemore, this day is very momentus indeed. It does not matter how many other books you have authored but the launch of each one of the books is like a woman getting out of the labour ward with a full-term beautiful baby girl. I am sure that’s how you are feeling today.

Norman Mailer once said,

“writing books is the closest men ever come to child bearing”.

The metaphors about writing a book I understand are usually to do with child birth, a lot of screaming and tears, the big difference is that a human baby only takes 9 months but writing a book may take much more. After labour a woman (now even men after sex transplant) forgets the pain and I am sure if we ask you how you did it you will not remember, but you cannot be sure with the professor, he may remember everything. The baby is now being let out to the whole world.

Let me also take this opportunity to thank you on your exceptional service as a Professor in the faculty of Law and for your useful comments on matters of the law. Sometimes it takes the brave to make comments that are unfavourable to the powers that be but such comments help in the development of our Country and our jurisprudence. As the President of the Law Society of Zimbabwe, I am happy that one of my members has produced such a useful book.

I wish to take this opportunity to thank those who contributed to the publication of this book and I congratulate them too for a job well done.

Once again I congratulate you Prof. on this fine book. I wish you prosperity and continued well-being in the years to come.

God bless you!!