REVELATIONS that the Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec) 2021 examinations could be plunged into chaos by teachers’ planned full-blown strike over poor working conditions, are heartrending.
Zimsec examinations are scheduled to start on November 22 for “O” Level candidates, while “A” Level and Grade 7 examinations will commence on November 29.
But, disgruntled teachers have pointed out that their October salaries have pushed them to the edge and they have realised that they need to immediately take action.
This is coming at a time when incomes have been severely eroded as the local currency takes a battering from an exchange rate that has gone haywire. The impact of the erosion of salaries has been worsened by the skyrocketing prices of basic goods and services, which are indexed on the forex parallel market rate.
“Of late, we had seen a divided reaction among teachers on calling for better wages, but this time around, they are speaking with a very loud voice. They are tired. They can’t cope with the economic crisis anymore. Prices are going up, but salaries are stagnant,” Zimbabwe National Teachers Union chief executive officer Manuel Nyawo said.
A job action by teachers will have devastating consequences on learners countrywide, who have already lost valuable learning time due to COVID-19-induced lockdowns.
This development debunks the claims by government this week that the economy is sound and on an upward trajectory.
Even Labour minister Paul Mavima recently pointed out that civil servants could no longer afford locally-based goods and did not dismiss the idea of government arranging free shopping trips to South Africa for its workers.
That a Cabinet minister makes such an admission shows the extent to which government workers are suffering and the threat it poses to the education sector.
The parlous situation is also afflicting the health sector where workers frequently down tools over poor working conditions, putting the lives of thousands of patients at risk. In a sign of cluelessness and desperation, government is considering putting in place a law that bars health workers from striking for more than three days in any given period.
Instead of grandstanding and issuing threats, President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration should find a concrete solution to its restive workers’ plight to obviate the strikes.
Failure to address this issue has dire consequences for this and future generations.