PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s underfire government has ordered provincial education directors to name teachers who failed to report for duty since the reopening of schools in September, as it moves to dock their salaries.
BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA
Most teachers have not reported for duty since schools reopened for examination classes on September 28 after a six-month COVID-19-induced closure, demanding a review of their salaries.
Several meetings called by government and teachers’ unions have failed to break the impasse, leading pupils to engage in drug abuse and sex orgies due to lack of supervision as teachers dig in.
Primary and Secondary Education minister Cain Mathema has, however, insisted that all is well, although his deputy Edgar Moyo confirmed the chaotic situation in schools this week, adding that it might get worse when the remaining classes report for lessons on Monday.
After shooting down the teachers’ demand for United States dollar salaries, government on November 6 directed provincial education directors (PEDs) to provide names of striking teachers.
“The Public Service Commission has requested details of teachers that have not reported for duty since the opening of Phase 1 classes on 28 September 2020 in the format prescribed in the template provided,” Primary and Secondary Education secretary Tumisang Thabela said in a circular directed to PEDs.
“While provinces and districts have been submitting attendance statistics for teachers and learners to the command centre, these did not have names. In view of the above, provincial education directors are, hereby, directed to submit the details of teachers that have been absent from duty for the period September 28 to November 6, 2020 to head office through their respective human resources directors by end of day on Wednesday November 11 for the onward transmission to Public Service Commission,” she said.
Thabela’s circular followed a similar order from Public service Commission secretary Jonathan Wutawunashe in a letter dated October 26.
“The commission has, however, noted with concern that from September 28, 2020 to date, some teachers in schools that have Zimsec [Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council] examinations classes have not been reporting for duty,” Wutawunashe wrote.
“The commission is, therefore, directing the ministry to take appropriate action against those teachers who are not reporting for duty on the basis of the public service regulations as well as the ‘no work, no pay’ principle.”
Wutawunashe added: “Please submit a schedule of all the teachers who have been absenting themselves since September 2020 to the commission by November 13, 2020 to ensure that appropriate action is taken.”
But teachers’ unions yesterday reacted angrily to the order, which they said was an intimidatory tactic.
“Unfortunately, it is an intimidatory tactic they are using to the unsuspecting educators who are toiling under poor salaries,” Zimbabwe Teachers Association chief executive Sifiso Ndlovu said.
“We will support a process which seeks to capacitate teachers to go back to work so that we can resolve the crisis in education and resolve it for the benefit of the public.
“This is public education that is suffering. So in our view, there is no teacher who has failed to report for work because they want to, but (cannot) because the employer has failed to meet their side of the budget.
“To make matters worse, they have even used a discriminatory approach to workers. They are treating other civil servants differently, especially the security forces, and teachers have to be treated as the lowest rank.”
Progressive Teacher’s Union of Zimbabwe president Takavafira Zhou said: “What the PSC directed is unlawful, we are guided by the law. Teachers have nothing to fear, they have a good cause on why they are not reporting for work. We don’t have the money.
“We notified the PSC that teachers are incapacitated and they have not yet responded to our notification.”
Government has also ordered over 1 000 nurses to undergo disciplinary hearing after they failed to report for duty citing incapacitation.
Cabinet recently approved plans to replace striking doctors and nurses with health professionals from the security forces.