Social dialogue is a well-established instrument which has gained traction, especially amongst developed countries, and its use is being explored to deal with an array of national challenges, particularly in developing and fragile states. Social dialogue is enshrined in the ILO’s Declaration of Philadelphia (1944), which states: “The war against what requires to be carried on with unrelenting vigour within each nation, and by continuous and concerted international effort in which the representatives of workers and employers, enjoying equal status with those of governments, join with them in free discussion and democratic decision with a view to the promotion of the common welfare”. The ILO defines social dialogue as: “All types of negotiation, consultation or information sharing among representatives of governments, employers and workers or between those of employers and workers on issues of common interest relating to economic and social policy”.
Since independence, the Government of Zimbabwe has put in place several consultative and advisory bodies to facilitate tripartite and bipartite consultations. These structures were set up to deal with specific employment issues relating to minimum wage fixing (the tripartite Wages and Salaries Advisory Board), retrenchments (the tripartite Retrenchment Board), occupational safety and health (the tripartite Zimbabwe Occupational Health & Safety Council) and the determination of terms and conditions of employment at the sectoral level through bipartite National Employment Councils. However, the mandate of these structures is fairly narrow and restricted to specific aspects of the labour market to the extent that they do not deal with broader economic challenges facing the country.