A team of three Cabinet ministers is today expected to meet teachers’ unions to address their concerns as part of Government efforts to improve the welfare of civil servants.

Primary and Secondary Education Minister Cain Mathema, his Public Service counterpart Professor Paul Mavima and Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube will be leading the Government delegation at the meeting in Harare.

As they seek to address teachers’ concerns, the Government is aware of illegal private lessons being conducted by striking teachers, and this will also be on the agenda.

Minister Mathema yesterday confirmed the meeting with the main item of addressing teachers’ concerns, but noted:

“As Government, we are, however, aware that some teachers are not reporting for duty and instead they are conducting private lessons charging parents US$5 per subject. It is illegal and as we seek to address teachers’ concerns, they must also desist from such activities.

“In that meeting, we will also discuss the issue of teachers who are doing these private lessons. Parents need to be careful of such activities and what I can say is that, Government is addressing it.”

The meeting is part of Government efforts to address the welfare of its workers.

Last week, Treasury paid a 40 percent cost of living salary increase to cushion civil servants while waiting for the completion of negotiations with unions over pay and other employment terms.

“Government is committed to the welfare of its workers,” said Minister Mathema.

“Negotiations are still ongoing and we are all waiting for the finalisation of these talks. But as the negotiations are going on, Government maintained the US$75 Covid-19 relief allowance.

“Over and above that, Government also paid a 40 percent cost of living adjustment to its workers.

“We are aware that teachers have their concerns which need to be addressed and Government is looking into that. But what is not allowed is for teachers to hold parents and learners to ransom, demanding an extra fee for doing their work. That is not allowed and we will not allow it to happen.”

In ensuring safety to citizens following last week’s reopening of schools, the Government has distributed face masks, sanitisers and disinfectants to all public and independent schools.

The phased reopening for the majority of schools started last week on Monday with the resumption of exam writing classes — Grade 7, Form 4 and Form 6.

Next on October 26 are next year’s examination classes — Grade 6, Form 3 and Form 5 — and then a fortnight after that, on November 9, everyone else goes back to school.

Minister Mathema said his ministry had put in place measures to guarantee the safety of both learners and teachers.

“Government availed $600 million to improve sanitation for schools, and I am happy to report that to date no learners have tested positive for Covid-19, a sign that we are doing well in terms of adherence,” he said.

“President Mnangagwa is a listening President and as his ministers we continue seeking advice on how we can best proceed with lessons during this pandemic.

“Like I said, closing schools indefinitely is not a solution and we will continue with measures directed by health authorities so that we do not have a spike in cases,” said Minister Mathema