AFTER years of haggling between teachers and the government, the authorities are issuing fresh threats of dismissed if educators continue with their ongoing industrial action.
Farirai Musekiwa (59) says she will grudgingly comply and attend class at her school in Epworth, near Harare, just to avoid the potentially nasty repercussions.
Musekiwa says this will be done to protect her job that is on the line following a chilling warning by President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the Public Service Commission (PSC) that teachers, deputy school heads and heads who continue to absent themselves from class citing incapacitation will be deemed to have resigned if they did not show up by February 22.
The PSC was not done with its threats, adding that those who report for duty but will not be teaching will also suffer the same fate while those in government houses will immediately be chucked out.
According to the PSC, unemployed trained teachers, university and college graduates in the sciences, engineering, technical, vocational areas and other disciplines interested in joining the teaching profession should register at the nearest district education offices as the recruitment process will begin soon.
But Musekiwa, with over two decades’ experience in public service as a teacher, says although the government’s threats will force teachers to go to work, they will neither be silenced nor give 100% effort, and this will affect the students.
“It’s so sad that we as teachers cannot even help ourselves even though everyone knows the money is not enough for our needs. We have families who look up to us and we cannot cope,” she said.
“We are suffering and have nothing left, but only hope that things will work out for our good. A lot has changed, our hearts are not up for what we signed for as teachers, to serve the country and all we spend time doing is to look for money by doing this or that. Now these threats are adding to our problems as we thought dialogue was the only way out for us and the government.”
A snap survey by The NewsHawks revealed that teachers have been reporting for duty and working in the wake of threats by Mnangagwa and the PSC — but morale remains very low. Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) president Takavafira Zhou said the forcing of distraught teachers to report for duty by the PSC was a waste of time.
“Command-and-control tactics do not capacitate teachers. Government would do better by investing in binding collective bargaining and social dialogue that bring industrial harmony and productivity. Sticking to an archaic, rusty and moribund Statutory Instrument 141 of 1997, when we now have section 65 of the constitution is not only ludicrous hallucination of the worst order, but also puzzling,” Zhou said.
“Ordering teachers to report for work and providing a panacea to challenges faced by teachers are two different things. Unless government provide US$540, there will be no meaningful teaching and learning in schools.”
Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) president Obert Masaraure said his organisation on Sunday filed an urgent High Court application challenging the PSC move, arguing it was unconstitutional.
“The teachers will not be bullied by the ungrateful employer. They will stay home until grievances are addressed. The solution to the incapacitation crisis is genuine dialogue between employer and employee and such dialogue should lead to the restoration of pre-October 2018 salaries for teachers,” he said.