n South African Journal of Labour Relations - Designed to fail : the social partnership experiment in Zimbabwe : forum section

Volume 34, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0379-8410
  • E-ISSN: 2520-3223



This paper reports on the attempt by the tripartite parties in Zimbabwe to launch a social partnership for consensus building on labour market and socioeconomic development issues. The paper argues that the key elements for meaningful social partnership, such as shared views on the causes of the prevailing social and economic crises, and consensus on how to resolve them, were absent. Corporatist structures, such as the Tripartite Negotiating Forum, did not advance the social partnership; rather they highlighted the unilateral tendency of the government and the devotion to sectoral interests among the social partners. Consequently, the attempted social partnership of the period 1998-2008 was doomed. One major explanatory reason for this was the overarching governance deficit that gave little space for interest mediation and tripartite consensus as distinctive attributes of social partnership.

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