President Emmerson Mnangagwa should not ignore the plight of the country’s incapacitated teachers if he does not want to be remembered for destroying the country’s education system, striking Zimbabwean teachers have said.

In a joint statement released Saturday, unions representing the country’s teachers said they were worried by Mnangagwa’s recent utterances in which he threatened them with salary cessation in the event that they continued with their downing of tools.

Since schools reopened for the Third Term after a Covid19 induced six-month hiatus two weeks ago, Zimbabwe teachers have been on strike, citing incapacitation due to low salaries and poor working conditions.

The striking teachers, who have been demanding the restoration of the pre-2018 US$540 monthly salaries for them to return back to their workplaces, expressed shock at Mnangagwa’s pronouncements last week that Government would cease their salaries in the event that they continued with the strike.

The unions said they were ‘worried that (the President had) made remarks threatening teachers on industrial action before seeking engagement and remaining indifferent’ to their plight.

“President E. D. Mnangagwa should not ignore the plight of teachers. We don’t want to believe that he would want to be remembered for destroying the education system of this country,” partly reads the joint statement from eight of the country’s nine teachers’ unions.

Although the Government contends that about 27-30% of the country’s teachers have been reporting for duty since September 28, the incapacitated educators contend that they were about to reach the ‘Armageddon of our incapacitation struggle’ with more teachers joining the strike.

“It is only through meaningful engagement, improved salaries, eradication of discrimination among government workers, assurance of health and safety of teachers and pupils during this Covid 19 period, and harmonisation of labour laws that teachers’ return to schools can be guaranteed,” the statement reads.

Added the teachers’ unions:

“Once government brings a meaningful offer, teachers are ready to report for duty thereafter. We, as teachers, want a separate collective bargaining board where we can then articulate the education specific issues unlike the current scenario where the education sector is bundled up with everyone else”.

Read the full statement below:

Joint statement by all teachers’unions in Zimbabwe: Teachers’ Incapacitation

11 October 2020

▪️ Now that we are about to reach the Armageddon of our incapacitation struggle as witnessed by more teachers joining the action and schools being deserted;

▪️Worried that His Excellency, President E. D. Mnangagwa made remarks threatening teachers on industrial action before seeking engagement and remaining indifferent to the plight of the teachers;

▪️Observing that the $600 million meant for Covid-19 purposes did not filter into the schools as evidenced by acute shortage of PPEs and other Covid-19 abatement items in most of the schools;

▪️ Aware that Government is still acting in denial about the situation in our schools as evidenced by their threats to fire teachers or cease their salaries and pretending that the school system is functioning normally;

▪️Shocked by some acts of ‘benevolence’ in the form of food handouts by some misguided elements who want to hijack the teachers’ incapacitation for personal aggrandizement.

Therefore, we, the undersigned teachers’ representatives, do hereby reiterate that:

▪️No amount of force or threat can capacitate teachers who have all tested positive to poverty. The employer should swallow her pride and do the right thing.

▪️The nation should know that teachers in all public schools are not at work because the government has failed them and will not succumb to any threats. Where there are incidents of teaching taking place, it is just cosmetic.

▪️Teachers are not for charity but professionals who are only crying for dignified treatment, reasonable salaries and befitting conditions of service.

▪️It is only through meaningful engagement, improved salaries, eradication of discrimination among government workers, assurance of health and safety of teachers and pupils during this Covid 19 period, and harmonisation of labour laws that teachers’ return to schools can be guaranteed. Once government brings a meaningful offer, teachers are ready to report for duty thereafter.

▪️We, as teachers, want a separate collective bargaining board where we can then articulate the education specific issues unlike the current scenario where the education sector is bundled up with everyone else.

▪️Teachers should remain resolute and focused on our demands. All pusillanimous tendencies should be a thing of the past going forward.

Teachers should encourage those who are still reporting for duty to join others in showing government that we deserve better.

▪️Teachers are not against parents and students. In actual fact, what teachers are simply saying is that it is very dangerous to entrust the future on learners in the hands of a frustrated, poorly remunerated and stressed teachers. Once the impasse is resolved, teachers will do everything possible to help their learners.

▪️ President E. D. Mnangagwa should not ignore the plight of teachers. We don’t want to believe that he would want to be remembered for destroying the education system of this country.

Jointly signed by:

ARTUZ – Chere R. (0775643192)
PTUZ -Zunde L. (0772198868)
TUZ – Phiri R. (0772680952)
ZDTU – Tasaranarwo F. (0773816324)
ZIMTA – Sibanda N. T. (0772803254)
ZINATU – Nyawo M. (0774013500)
ZINEU – Chinosengwa C. (0715815347)
ZRTU – Fambai F. (0775226380)

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