MONTHS after the Zimbabwe State Universities National Joint Council (ZSUNJC) petitioned Higher and Tertiary Education minister Amon Murwira over poor salaries and miserable working conditions, the minister has reportedly finally decided to appear before Parliament.
There is definitely something wrong with the sluggishness the minister is treating the plight of higher and tertiary education workers who include hard-to-find lecturers. Two months into 2023 after ZSUNJC members raised their concerns way back last year, one has very little choice, but to call out the minister over this issue.
Honestly, given the state of Zimbabwe’s education sector that is currently tottering on the brink of complete chaos as teachers and lecturers leave in their droves for greener diaspora pastures, we would have thought that the minister would have responded to the petition in haste.
But nay, on Wednesday when we are told Murwira will appear before Parliament, the minister will present himself to merely “respond to the issues raised in the petition”, yet the matter needs prompt action.
Murwira’s lethargic response to the concerns of workers under his ministry leaves a lot to be desired and it, unfortunately, mirrors the manner the entire government machinery has been responding to concerns by civil servants.
The issue of civil servants’ welfare has virtually been ignored by government to the point that the workers have been frustrated into leaving employment, and the majority who have chosen to remain behind are busy engaged in corrupt activities to make ends meet since their wages are barely buying enough basics to last them half a month.
We have previously heard that semesters at universities and colleges are now taking longer to be completed simply because of a serious shortage of lecturers and yet Murwira can afford to take his sweet time to act on concerns raised by the few workers who are still dedicated to prop up the country’s higher and tertiary education sector.
Lethargy is a serious tumour that is fast gnawing and destroying government as an institution and the massive flight of experienced and talented civil servants for mainly the diaspora is testament to this.
- Cars up for grabs in batteries competition
- Africa should be better prepared for Europe’s security funding shift
- Sadc PF wants right to health enforceable
- AG’s report shows growing impunity at the heart of govt operation
A weak civil service, operating with an inexperienced workforce that is poorly paid and working under pitiable conditions, is the last thing the country needs, especially as Zimbabwe is hoping to achieve upper-middle-income status by 2030.
It is, therefore, critical that ministers should respect the government workforce by promptly responding to its concerns, instead of literally ignoring its plight and taking forever to address pressing matters that have a serious bearing on the country’s present and future socio-economic development.
The welfare of higher and tertiary education workers, as well as that of other civil servants in general, has to be looked into with urgency because it has detrimental effects on government’s overall capacity to fulfil its mandate to nation Zimbabwe.
As it is, given the lethargy across virtually all ministries, the Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare ministry’s mission to “ensure the provision of quality human resource services to line ministries with a view to enhancing service delivery” has become a ludicrous proportion when the quality human resources are being frustrated into resigning daily by ministers who couldn’t care less.