BY BRENNA MATENDERE
Teachers’ unions that are saying their members are incapacitated and cannot continue reporting for duty are now pursuing a political agenda to destabilise the education sector, Primary and Secondary Education minister Paul Mavima has said.
Speaking to NewsDay yesterday, Mavima said government was sincere in its drive to improve the welfare of teachers, but their unions were throwing spanners in the way.
“Government is very sincere in terms of improving remuneration of teachers. However, the problem is that some unions are now pushing a political agenda. Every time we have come up with an offer to increase salaries, they have never appreciated. They continue to reject the offers,” the minister said.
Mavima also claimed that an assessment carried by the Education ministry revealed that 95% of teachers had reported for duty since beginning of third term despite claims by unions that the educators have stopped reporting for duty as a result of incapacitation.
“We have some unions with only 98 members who are speaking against the government. However, some unions like Zimta [Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association], who have 60 000 members, are co-operating with us. Right now as we speak, an arrangement with Zimsec [Zimbabwe School Examination Council] has already been made for examinations to be conducted and teachers will be paid,” Mavima said.
Last month, teachers told Zimsec that they would only invigilate the Grade 7, “O” and “A” Level final examinations after receiving invigilation allowances.
Contacted for comment, Zimta chief executive Sifiso Ndlovu said his organisation took the decision to dialogue with government to avoid confrontations.
“We believe that dialogue is the one which will give us the results instead of protests and that is the direction we are taking. We have not asked our members to boycott supervising November examinations and if other unions have taken that position I cannot speak on their behalf,” he said.
The Zimta leader, however, said teachers were now incapacitated due to devalued salaries.
“Our members, yes, they have been incapacitated since January, but we have not called for protests and, in fact, those who are going to teach at schools are doing so out of sacrifice and dedication. Our expectation is that the employer should, therefore, take that into consideration and improve remuneration,” Ndlovu said.
However, Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz) leader Obert Masaraure and Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) president Takavafira Zhou roundly slammed’s Mavima’s utterances.
“Artuz remains non-partisan but committed to fighting for a fair share of the national cake for the education sector. There is absolutely nothing partisan with condemning the stealing of
$6 million meant for teaching materials and, indeed, it is above board to demand a living wage for our teachers. The political agenda being pursued by Mavima and his elite cabal is inimical to the collective aspirations of the working class. Their agenda is to preserve the national cake for themselves and condemn everyone into extreme poverty,” Masaraure said.
Zhou weighed in, saying: “Any assertion to that PTUZ is pushing a political agenda is at best a fantasy , analytically vague and vacuous, an attempt to find politics behind every rubbish bin in Zimbabwe … teachers cannot accept 60% salary increment in a country where basic commodities and fuel prices have gone up by 2 000%.”
Zhou said the examination deal alleged by Mavima was fake.
“PTUZ is not privy to Zimsec and teachers’ agreement over the conduct and marking of November examinations … It is, therefore, clear that minister Mavima and Zimsec are deliberately snubbing PTUZ for reasons best known to them,” Zhou said.