BY KUDAKWASHE TAGWIREYI/VARAIDZO MUDEWAIRI
TEACHERS unions yesterday pleaded with the government not to bar some of their members from conducting census because they failed to report for duty on school opening day last month citing incapacitation.
Early this week, the Primary and Secondary Education ministry ordered the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStats) not to consider “striking” teachers for the 2022 census exercise scheduled for April 7 to 30.
Teachers will be drafted in for the exercise when schools close on April 7. The assignment comes with allowances, which for the poorly-paid teachers are a shot in the arm.
According to government, 54,6% of the country’s 150 000 teachers were at work by February 16 after schools opened on February 7, meaning around 82 000 educators are ineligible for census duties.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general Raymond Majongwe said the decision on who to employ should be made by ZimStats.
“As far as I am concerned, it is up to ZimStats to choose who it wants to employ because this responsibility should not be based on any precedence,” he said.
Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz) president Obert Masaraure said the move exposed “government’s disregard for teachers’ welfare”.
“The retribution will demoralise teachers and further cripple the education sector. You cannot punish teachers who declared incapacitation by denying them other sources of income.
“Government is encouraged to sober up and act responsibly. If it escalates repression, we will be forced to escalate the fight for a living wage,” he said.
Around 50 school heads and 32 teachers were suspended after failing to report for duty, citing incapacitation.
The Artuz boss added: “We have gathered intelligence that the system has vowed to punish Artuz members. Given this context, it is clear that we have a responsibility to make the employer choose between concession and escalated repression. To date, we have made a concession that our teachers report for duty twice a week, we expect the employer to make one concession, just allowing our members to work for those two days without facing harassment,” he said.
Primary and Secondary Education ministry spokesperson Taungana Ndoro denied the harassment allegations.
“We have not harassed anyone, we have not victimised anyone. Let them implement a comprehensive response strategy in enhancing the provision of accessible, affordable, quality, relevant, inclusive and wholesome education for all Zimbabweans,” Ndoro said.
On the ZimStats issue, Ndoro said: “Teachers can make their recommendations, but the ministry makes policies. Government maintains that teachers who were not reporting for duty will not take part in the census.”
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) on Wednesday filed an urgent chamber application at the High Court seeking and interdict to render suspension of teachers null and void.
It cited Primary and Secondary Education minister Evelyn Ndlovu and the Public Service Commission as first and second respondents.
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