In an embarrassingly dramatic u-turn, President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Zimbabwe Government has backed down on its earlier decision to suspend all teachers who went on strike when schools opened doors on February 7, this year, a leading teachers’ union has said.
In a statement yesterday, the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), said:
“Govt has been embarassed by teachers and was forced to back down on suspension of all teachers, but its potential to decimate divided educators remains realistic. All provinces urged the Union to allow teachers to report for work between 22 and 25 February in order to continue fighting for US$540 without fallen heroes.”
Read the full PTUZ Statement below:
Which Way Forward?: Dilemma of Teachers’ Struggle
21 February 2022
The Great Question of the Day preoccupying teachers and general populace is “what would happen in schools tomorrow?” Will teachers report for work? Will they teach? It was within this framework that Ptuz leadership sought guidance from its PTUZ members following govt ultimatum that all teachers should report for work by tomorrow. The collated evidence from the ten provinces revealed that:
The major reason behind our incapacitation struggle, viz, US$540, has not been addressed.
Our initial momentum and unity in diversity across the teacher unions divide has been riddled following some teacher unions’ romance with govt and complicity in incapacitating teachers.
That as much as solidarity from other workers in Zimbabwe was welcome it fell far short where it matters most, viz, solidarity in action that could entice govt to address the plight of all workers in Zimbabwe.
Govt has been embarassed by teachers and was forced to back down on suspension of all teachers, but its potential to decimate divided educators remains realistic.
All provinces urged the Union to allow teachers to report for work between 22 and 25 February in order to continue fighting for US$540 without fallen heroes.
Collated evidence from provinces revealed that the best protection from the employer is unity of purpose in diversity and therefore teachers must return to our terrain of conflict, viz, schools to mobilise some fighters that have demobilized, so as to continue fighting for US$540.
Members also urged PTUZ leadership to continue engaging teacher union leaders inside and outside FOZEU, parliament, Education International and ILO over starvation wages received by teachers.
Members expressed that there will never be any meaningful teaching and learning in schools until govt pays US$540.
In light of the foregoing PTUZ leadership therefore reluctantly encourages teachers to:
- report for work for a limited number of days per week until we are capacitated by the govt.
- mobilise at school level in order to continue with the incapacitation struggle.
- remain ready for a fresh full-throttle incapacitation struggle based on mobilisation levels in schools.
- notify school heads in advance the date they will be reporting for work if they are not able to report for work by 22 February 2022.
- to get organised and be ready to take party in a Petition March to Parliament within the next 14 days with our full demands.
We also urge the govt to address the quandary of incapacitation that teachers are facing as a matter of urgency.
We reiterate to govt that given the levels of high incapacitation, many teachers may fail to report for work by 22 February and such teachers must never be deemed to have resigned. At any rate, govt can only cease salary for a teacher whose whereabouts are not known after 14 continuous working days. Such continuous working days lapse on 25 February. The govt has no locus standi to cease salaries of incapacitated teachers whose whereabouts are known. At law, only teachers that are absent from work for 30 continuous days can be deemed to have resigned.
Teachers and pupils are the best assets that Zimbabwe must treat well and with dignity. Govt arrogance and failure to address teachers’ challenges remain puzzling. As teachers, we must once again unite as brothers and sisters against incapacitation or else we will die as fools.
Dr Takavafira M. Zhou, PTUZ President
Raymond Majongwe, PTUZ SG