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Economy

SONA fails to inspire restless civil servants

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PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa (pictured) yesterday failed to provide convincing solutions to Zimbabwe’s deepening economic crisis at a time teachers have declared incapacitation while millions are facing hunger.

Mnangagwa’s State of the Nation Address (Sona), came amid growing tensions in the civil service, which has seen teachers refusing to report for work, demanding better salaries and personal protective equipment (PPE).

In his address, Mnangagwa failed to provide a solution to the teachers’ strike, which is threatening to derail the school term, already interrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We will redouble efforts to ensure that syllabi are completed and examinations proceed smoothly, in a safe, secure and stable environment, for both teachers and learners,” Mnangagwa said.

His address was a lukewarm response to the teachers, who for his intervention yesterday as the salary impasse continues.

“Your Excellency, in light of the prevailing situation in the education sector and teachers’ incapacitation, we want to plead with you to intervene and save the education sector from total collapse and capacitate teachers so that they can report for duty,” a joint petition by teachers’ unions reads.

The petition was signed by representatives of the Zimbabwe Teachers’ Union, Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe, Amalgated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe, Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Democratic Teachers’ Union, Zimbabwe National Teachers’ Union and Zimbabwe National Educators’ Union.

The teachers urged the gove for their situation to be treated with urgency.

“We are very much aware that you are a listening President and we have no doubt that you will accord us the attention we highly anticipate,” the petition reads.

Teachers are demanding US$520 per month before they can resume work. Teachers take home the equivalent of US$50.

Without dwelling on specifics on how his government will handle the teachers’, health and civil service, Mnangagwa said his government will do its best to address their issues.

“Government takes note of the legitimate calls for better working conditions by our teachers, health workers and public service in general. We will do our best to ameliorate their concerns and improve their plight,” Mnangagwa said.

Mnangagwa’s administration has been under pressure to fulfill its 2018 election promises, which it has repeatedly failed to attain.

Pressure has also been mounting within the government, with civil servants, who are among the least paid, demanding better salaries.

The Apex council, the umbrella body of all civil servants had also been vocal ahead of Mnangagwa’s address, demanding solutions to the growing crisis.

The 76-year-old blamed the country’s problems on sanctions, saying they are an albatross to economic development.

Despite the government’s failure to implement the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP) of 2018 which expired this month, Mnangagwa is bullish on economic reemergence under a new economic blueprint, National Development Strategy.

“Our Transitional Stabilisation Programme has delivered and there are causes for optimism. My Government is indeed encouraged by the economic stability , evident since the launch of the foreign exchange auction system in June,” Mnangagwa said.

Mnangagwa also announced several legislative reforms and announced that the government would soon tighten the screws on non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

He said some NGOs were deviating from their mandate, hence the proposed Bill to regulate activities.

“The conduct of some non-governmental organisations and private and voluntary organisations who operate outside their mandates and are out of sync with the government’s humanitarian priority programmes remain a cause for concern,” he said.

Legislation governing the operations of NGOs would be reviewed during the third session of the ninth Parliament.–Staff Writer

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