Letters to the editor: Let us all embrace peace, tolerance

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Kwekwe-rally-violence

IT is everyone’s responsibility to guard against the disease of violence so that Zimbabwe remains a peaceful country.

COTRAD calls on the youths to abstain from all forms of political violence.

We encourage them to mobilise community members to register to vote and vote peacefully.

COTRAD also urges the political parties to mobilise their support in a peaceful manner.

Section 67 of the Constitution is clear that every citizen has the right to join and participate in the activities of a political party of their choice and campaign freely for a political party or
cause.

The general principles of the electoral code of conduct for political parties and candidates encourages them to promote tolerance in which political activities take place without fear of intimidation or reprisals.

Political parties must accept that others have the right to present their political principles and ideas in a peaceful environment.

COTRAD is currently embarking on peace-building activities through community working together platforms (nhimbe) and sports for peace tournaments in to spread the gospel of peace.- COTRAD


No need to pay incentives to teachers
I DON’T have a soft spot for Primary and Secondary Education ministry spokesperson Taungana Ndoro.

However, I am a social commentator with an inveterate bent for incisive analysis. Human nature is such that no person is wrong all the time and similarly no person is right all the time. Apropos a comment on Taungana’s Press statement in the media not so long ago regarding incentives for teachers.

Taungana is absolutely correct: Teachers are salaried civil servants. Who are they to be incentivised?  And for what reason, anywhere?

If their salaries are not enough, the same applies to the salaries of university lecturers and professors and factory workers, police, soldiers, pensioners and everyone else in the country, including the parents. It is a socio-economic problem that we have in the country.

Are we going to incentivise the health workers so that they can take care of the sick?

School authorities, who are asking for teacher incentives from the parents are living in a fictitious world. They are saying that incentives motivate teachers. This is utter nonsense.

It is said that incentives make teachers perform better, with commitment. This is glorified blackmail.

Let us recall that it was former Education minister David Coltart (a lawyer by profession) in the government of national unity, who religiously championed the teacher incentivisation concept. Zimbabweans of my age and awareness will know that Coltart grew up in a segregated society where there were two parallel educational systems and where blacks earned wages whereas whites earned salaries.

How on earth can parents be able to pay incentives to teachers when they are unable to pay school fees in the first place?  Those school authorities who say incentives will make teachers perform better are day-dreaming.

If I were a teacher, I would decline the incentives while openly campaigning against it as a moral evil, unpardonable transgression.

School authorities that push for teacher incentives are out of touch with the economic reality prevailing in the country.

Quality education comes from professionalism by educators. It comes from well-remunerated teachers who enjoy commensurate conditions of service. Incentives for teachers have a negative long-term effect as they do not enhance pension at retirement. In fact, incentives stand in the way of salary negotiations between employer and employees.

Parents are being punished as they must pay fees, charges and levies and then incentives for salaried teachers. The government long transferred the financial burden of running schools to parents. The parents can’t cope anymore. The parents must pay towards feeding programmes at schools and yet 85% of them are unemployed. The whole education system in the country exists as if it is run by small children in kindergarten.

Learners cannot be expelled from school for non-payment of incentives. Schools, which insist on payment of incentives, are breaking the law and the government cannot remain recumbent.

Teaching is like any other trade or profession and is like a calling. Deep down our hearts there is a calling for us to train for a specific type of work and remuneration is a secondary consideration and is necessitated by socio-economic circumstances.

Apart from the illegality of it, incentivisation is a travesty of democracy. Teachers have a right to go on industrial action, but school authorities cannot say parents must pay them in order for them to report for work. This is satanic. It is barbaric and is an archaic practice fit for the oligarchy and dictators who ruled in the dark ages.- Martin Stobart


 

For Putin, absolute power corrupts absolutely
RUSSIA President Vladimir Putin’s apparent fear of Nato expansion, through especially the deployment of additional United States anti-nuclear-missile defence systems, further into eastern Europe is typically perceived by the West as unmerited paranoia.

Surely, he must realise that the West, including Nato, won’t initiate a nuclear-weapons exchange.

Then, again, how can he — or we, for that matter — know for sure, particularly with the US?

For example, while former US President Ronald Reagan postulated that “Of the four wars in my lifetime none came about because the US was too strong,” who can know what may have historically come to fruition had the US remained the sole possessor of atomic weaponry.

There is a presumptive, and perhaps even arrogant, concept of American governance as somehow, unless physically provoked, being morally/ethically above using nuclear weapons internationally.

After President Harry S Truman relieved General Douglas MacArthur as commander of the forces warring with North Korea — for the latter’s remarks about using many atomic bombs to promptly end the war — Americans’ approval-rating of the President dropped to 23%.

It was still a record-breaking low, even lower than the worst approval rating points of the presidencies of Richard Nixon and Lyndon Johnson.

Had it not been for the formidable international pressure on Truman (and perhaps his personal morality) to relieve MacArthur as commander, could/would Truman eventually have succumbed to domestic political pressure to allow MacArthur’s command to continue?  After all, absolute power can corrupt absolutely.- Frank Sterle Jr