Business Eswatini and TUCOSWA to hold “Dialogue for Jobs”

Business Eswatini and TUCOSWA will, on the 10th and 11th May, hold a bipartite event dubbed “Dialogue on Jobs”. This is an event in which the Business Eswatini and the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA), as apex bodies of employers and employees respectively, will engage on a broad range of economic and labour-related issues with a view of finding common solutions to mutual challenges.

The purpose of the dialogue is premised on the need to strengthen the partnership between business and workers at all levels especially in areas of mutual interest. Having taken note of the current difficult situation in the country especially when it comes to jobs as well as the glaring skills mismatch in the labour market, the bipartite have seen the pressing need for a dialogue on these important issues with the intention of arriving at a consensus on the said issues.

“Organized business in Eswatini through BE already have a well-established Bipartite Forum with TUCOSWA which dates back years and we meet as and when issues need to be discussed. This time BE has activated the agreement paving the way for the two partners to sit together in one room and explore options on creating a productive environment for the workforce through social dialogue. BE is one-minded with TUCOSWA in believing that open communication and information sharing, consultation, and negotiation are important factors in creating a harmonious labour space.

Our economy desperately needs jobs as unemployment is at its highest owing to the impact of the pandemic and social unrest. To address these matters expeditiously, BE is of the opinion that the conversation must begin at the shop floor level, between employers and workers.

Participation in the dialogue will be by invitation only. The event will be moderated by a highly reputable specialist with extensive experience in the field of labour law and social dialogue. That being said, Business Eswatini would like to thank the ILO for underwriting this event and for the support they are providing in terms of resources. This organization has been a reliable partner to BE and we are most grateful indeed.

On another note, we would like to thank our members who have come out to show resounding support for the dialogue. Not only did they support us privately, but they were willing to even do it on various public mediums.

Some of them include:

Dr. Sipho Nkambule (CEO) – Eswatini Cane Growers Association

We would like to thank Business Eswatini and TUCOSWA for collaborating in this groundbreaking manner. In the work environment, there will always be issues that crop up from time to time which need to be addressed. We are very happy to see organizations which are at the helm of wealth creation working together to find solutions in the labour space and to lay a firm foundation for the future of the business sector.

The agriculture sector, like most industries, is compelled to adopt technology at a fast pace which calls for us to proactively formulate forward-looking plans and strategies to keep pace with these changes and their consequences. Most of these changes dictate that we need to adapt in order to stay relevant and competitive. Technologies are being improved everyday forcing us to address the issue of skills development and upgrade. We are happy that there will also be discussions on how to reskill, upskill and multi-skill our employees. It is our sincerely held principle that development should always strive to strike the delicate balance between wealth creation and sustainable livelihoods for the people of Eswatini in an inclusive manner. We trust that the outcomes of this dialogue will help to improve productivity and ultimately fast-track the economic recovery and development.

Kudos to both Business Eswatini and TUCOSWA for this event and wish them very well as they try to look for solutions of the present and the future.”

Ms. Daphne Mhlanga (Plant Manager) – Afrisam Eswatini

As AfriSam we would like to express our appreciation to Business Eswatini (BE) and TUCOSWA for the engagement. As members of BE we fully support the BE’s objectives of job preservation, enhancement and creation. We are aware of the desperate situation caused by unemployment and AfriSam has been committed to making a meaningful impact and positively contributing towards the growth and development of Eswatini and its citizens.

We have a broad range of social responsibility programs geared towards providing concrete solutions in the communities in which we do business. Our programs span from education and health to youth development. However, these programs can only go so far to uplift the communities in which we operate. We are thus looking forward to the dialogue and trust that it will have a positive effect.

We are hopeful that some forward-looking solutions will be found and that our employer-employee relations will grow from strength to strength.”

Ms. Zinhle Matsebula (MD) – Lifespan Diagnostics  

The bipartite dialogue initiative has come at the right time where there is a glaring need to address the havoc left by the most recent developments in the country which caused economic stagnation and a high incidence of unemployment. As a company whose passion is to reverse the rife unemployment rates especially among the youth, we are very grateful to BE for the engagement between employers and employees and we have our fingers crossed that it will yield some great outcomes.

As a business sector we are not coping with the rate at which unemployment is growing, hence the need to look at collective solutions to arrest this alarming problem. The job summit will benefit both employers and employees as it will provide a level ground for both parties to unlock the economic dilemmas we need to deal with collectively and harmoniously.

From this dialogue, I also hope the engagements will promote mutual respect among both stakeholders concerned and limit the number of disputes in the workplace.

Our hopes are very high and we are excited about an initiative of this nature.”

Stay tuned for more details in the coming days.

Business Eswatini Hold Successful AGM

Business Eswatini hosted an extraordinary annual general meeting at the Hilton Garden Inn on Wednesday. Members of this apex private sector representative body were updated on critical issues impacting the business environment in the country.

Critical decisions on the mandate of the Organisation were thrashed out as well as the added responsibilities which members had to pursue. The event was well-attended and delegates went out waxing lyrical about the organization’s achievements in the past two years.

The President of Business Eswatini, Mr. Andrew Le Roux, led the proceedings supported by his vice presidential incumbents in Fikile Nkosi (Nedbank), Bheki Maziya (RES) and Mvuselelo Fakudze (Std Bank) who are responsible for the Trade and Commerce, Industrial Relations and Social Policy and Finance portfolios respectively. The CEO, E. Nathi Dlamini facilitated the programme alongside the president.

In his opening remarks, the president highlighted the importance of unity especially at a time when the country was divided. He further encouraged members to be active participants in the country’s policy direction and to weigh in on matters of economic development. He lamented the fact that the business community had not been able to meet as frequently as they had wanted and heaped most of the blame squarely on the effects of the pandemic and the unpalatable restrictions it attracted. He said that as a result some compliance lapses arose. He, however, stressed that Business Eswatini should always be a standard bearer for corporate governance. He articulated some of the gaps which creeped in as a result of the pandemic amongst which included the failure to convene regular meetings as per the organization’s constitution. The president further decried the fact that Business Eswatini’s priorities had to be frequently shuffled from time to time in order to concentrate on the issues that were deemed to be urgent, especially the response to the pandemic and pressing legislative issues.    

The members were updated on new developments which the president said would shape the future landscape of business. Some of the hot topics covered included the need to ensure a conducive tax environment, support for labor-intensive industries such as the textile industry and cross-border topical issues including harmonization of border processes and transport and logistics issues of licensing and violence.

On Industrial Relations, new developments were primarily on the setting up of a coherent and sustainable social security fund, the employment legislation issues and training and localization matters which remained unresolved to date.

The members endorsed the secretariat’s decisions on a wide array of matters and further expressed satisfaction with the organization’s progress of advancing the private sector’s interests.

Another important issue that was deliberated on included the board’s term of office where the members had to debate on whether or not to go for another process of elections or extend the current board’s term. To this end, the membership endorsed a proposal to have the current board continue to serve because if they were to step down, the organization would be left without a board until the next election cycle which is a situation that they said would be untenable especially against the obtaining backdrop of an extremely volatile trading landscape. The view was that the board had done well in managing market challenges and navigating a complex environment in the country on behalf of members.

 They expressed confidence on the leadership of the president and his team and went further to applaud their collective work ethic and their ability to uphold common values and consensus. Their institutional memory and acquaintance with the topical issues of the day was counted as a much needed strength. E. Nathi Dlamini BE’s CEO took time to happily congratulate the new team. He said; “On behalf of the management team and staff of Business Eswatini, I would like to congratulate the board of directors and to thank them for agreeing to continue in their current roles. We are well aware that most of them, including the president, had wanted to take a break, but on the secretariat’s behest, they agreed to carry on nonetheless.”