Cross posted from Border Jumpers, Danielle Nierenberg and Bernard Pollack.
While in Harare, Zimbabwe, we met with the Labour and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe (LEDRIZ), an initiative of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) which started operating in September of 2003. The research institute’s primary objective to develop, through research, well-grounded policy positions designed to influence development processes and outcomes at the national, regional and international levels. This is particularly important in the context of globalization where national policy is increasingly giving way to regional and international developments. In this regard, the ability to anticipate developments will help in designing proactive policies that respond promptly to external challenges.
LEDRIZ shared with us the training and research materials and documents they use in training programs throughout the country around the “8 Socio-Economic Rights.’ Rather than directly endorsing political candidates, ZCTU advocates for democracy and good governance in Zimbabwe. LEDRIZ is strategically positioning itself to be part of every major economic policy debate in Zimbabwe, an impressive feat given the tight autocratic rule President Mugabe maintains over the country. In addition, LEDRIZ is fighting hard to establish progressive policies such as opposing the privatization of public utilities, providing support for the informal sector, protecting workers’ pensions and their ability to retire with dignity.
In establishing an aligned research institute, the labor movement in Zimbabwe is following the examples of the US, European, South African and Namibian trade unions. Such a research think-tank is particularly helpful in an economy like Zimbabwe’s which has experienced a wrenching brain drain, undermining capacity. The main strength of LEDRIZ is that it is a member of several national, regional and international networks such as the Alternatives to Neo-liberalism in Southern Africa (ANSA) which it coordinates; the African Labour Research Network (ALRN); and the Global Union Research Network (GURN), launched in January 2004 under the coordination of the ILO Bureau of Workers’ Activities and the International Trade Union Council (ITUC).