Zimbabwe teachers- most of who have declared incapacitation due to poor salaries- have described Ambassador Cain Mathema as the worst Education minister the country has ever had since attainment of independence in 1980.

The teachers made a scathing attack on Amb Mathema after he told the state media that a total number of 10 000 ‘qualified but unemployed’ teachers are on standby, waiting to replace those that have downed tools, citing incapacitation and lack of personal protective equipment (PPEs).

“We have at least 10 000 teachers who are unemployed and if the crunch comes, we will be left with no option but to quickly employ some of those teachers. Schooling has to go on and we will employ if there is need to,” Ambassador Mathema told the state media on Tuesday.

But the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe has dismissed Mathema’s insinuations, saying there was no way the 10 000 teachers on standby could be able to replace the 120 000 teachers who have been on industrial action since schools reopened Monday this week.

“The worst Education (minister) since independence now has a voice. 10k teachers to replace 120k teachers who can’t report to work (because) they don’t have money. Zim also has 10k schools. Govt puts 10 000 teachers on standby,” said the Ptuz in a Wednesday morning tweet.

The country’s teachers have been up in arms with their employer, demanding payment of salaries in United States dollars plus a Covid19 risk allowance to cushion them from the deadly pandemic.

Meanwhile, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services minister Monica Mutsvangwa told journalists in Harare last night that the Government has established Sentinel Surveillance Centers in the pursuit of protecting both learners and teachers from the scourge of the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking at a post-Cabinet media briefing in Harare last night, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Senator Monica Mutsvangwa announced the establishment of Sentinel Surveillance Centres to protect teachers and learners.

“Following the decision to allow for the phased re-opening of schools, Cabinet noted that the dissemination of Covid-19 standard operating procedures has laid the foundation for the establishment of Sentinel Surveillance Centres,” said Minister Mutsvangwa in a post-cabinet briefing to members of the media last night.

“The centres will assist in monitoring adherence to Covid-19 protocols and promote a safe learning environment. Every school has been linked to a specific health team. This strategy will ensure active rapid response at local level,” she said.