COLLEGE lecturers have accused Higher and Tertiary Education permanent secretary Washington Mbizvo of practicing gross labour and human rights abuses and defying court orders with impunity.
Members of the College Lecturers’ Association of Zimbabwe (Colaz) made the allegations when they appeared before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Higher and Tertiary Education yesterday.
The Colaz leaders said some lecturers’ marriages had collapsed while others were forced to sleep in offices as a result of some of Mbizvo’s decisions and defiance of court orders.
The said one of the affected lecturers succumbed to cancer recently after missing her chemotherapy after she was forcibly transferred from her work station and had her salary cut after she contested the transfer.
The lecturers told Parliament they had since raised the matter with President Robert Mugabe and the International Labour Organisation to have their concerns addressed.
Colaz president David Dzatsunga said in 2011, the association called for a sit-in to press for better working conditions and for doing that, most of members of the association were suspended while more than 250 were charged with misconduct.
Dzatsunga and other lecturers were forced to pay fines ranging between $80 and $200.
“We are worried by the lifestyles our lecturers are now living. One is sleeping in the office while someone is sleeping kumasowe [at a shrine] because he is a member of an apostolic sect,” Dzatsunga said.
“One of our lecturers succumbed to cancer because she couldn’t raise money after she was transferred to a new place. Before she died, she had written a letter to the ministry highlighting her predicament.
“Colaz then appealed the determinations to both the Public Service Commission and the Labour Court.”
He said Colaz had won all appeals up to date, but Mbizvo defied the court orders to reverse the transfers.
“All judges on the matter concurred that the transfers were illegal,” Dzatsunga said.
“The permanent secretary decided in his wisdom or lack of it to defy the Labour Court judgment. We felt it was unheard of that a government official would ignore that.
“We were supposed to be paid quite a lump sum of money from our salaries, but the permanent secretary decided not to honour a court judgment.
“Last year, the court ordered a penalty of $1 000 a day until the ministry relocates us.”