Reflections on the constitutionalising of individual labour law and labour rights in Zimbabwe

Authors James Tsabora, Tapiwa Givemore Kasuso

ISSN: 2413-9874
Affiliations: Lecturer, Midlands State University, Gweru, Zimbabwe; Lecturer, Midlands State University, Gweru, Zimbabwe
Source: Industrial Law Journal, Volume 38 Issue 1, 2017, p. 43 – 62


The adoption of the 2013 Constitution of Zimbabwe provides an interesting opportunity to explore the potent symbolism and practical significance of constitutional labour rights that, until now, have been conspicuously absent in the Declaration of Rights. The fact that the labour rights framework is a closely contested space characterised by conflicts and tensions suggests that the constitutional entrenchment of labour rights in the 2013 Constitution can only be welcome. There is therefore a strong basis for the contention that the adjudication of labour disputes on the basis of indirect constitutional interpretation and the application of traditional civil and political rights such as freedom of assembly should be abandoned as they have proven unhelpful in the development of labour law jurisprudence in Zimbabwe. This article argues that constitutional entrenchment of labour rights elevates such rights to human rights, and further provides a sound foundation for their broader enjoyment and protection. Accordingly, judicial interpretation of constitutional labour rights, it is proposed, should ensure progressive development of the jurisprudence around these rights, and move away from the previous pedantic approaches to interpretation. The clarion call is that only through such progressive interpretation can the various tensions, conflicts and disputes that necessarily characterise the labour rights system be resolved in the broader interests of society.