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Govt develops cold feet on teachers’ suspensions

Govt develops cold feet on teachers’ suspensions

By Philemon Jambaya

Government has made an about turn on the issue of teachers suspensions in a bid to avert a national crisis, Zim Morning Post can reveal.

The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education on Thursday last week announced a blanket suspension of all officials within the Ministry who absented themselves from duty since the official opening of schools on February 7, 2022.

Teacher unions estimated that thousands of teachers would be affected by the suspensions which government said were for a period of three months without pay.

At the same time Government is facing an urgent chamber application instigated by Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe which has been set down for tomorrow.

Sources within the Ministry of Primary and Secondary education told Zim Morning Post that teachers continued resistance despite the warning had prompted a change of heart.

However, there also now emerged manouvres to target headmasters and their deputies in a form of divide and rule tactic.

“The number of teachers on strike is so overwhelming therefore we can’t suspend them but for now we will be serving Headmasters and deputies suspension letters tomorrow as for teachers we will find a way forward to punish them,” revealed a highly placed source.

Teachers, last week, launched a crippling nationwide strike demanding to be paid US$ dollar salaries to cushion against a sharp increase in prices of basic goods and services as the local currency continues to tank against the green back.

Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general Raymond Majongwe maintained that teachers are not on strike but are simply incapacitated.

“135 000 of the 150 000 teachers have been suspended by government. We know only 10% of the teaching force were turning up for duty. Effectively, schools have closed again. Sad parents had paid huge amounts for fees,” he tweeted.

“We also call on all parents to stop sending children to school until the government starts respecting public education,” he added.

The lowest paid teacher was earning around Z$21,000, about US$90 on the parallel market, before Government recently awarded civil servants a 20 percent salary hike and other non-monetary benefits that include duty-free tax on imported vehicles, provision of transport, houses and pay tuition for their children.

A section of teachers’ unions said the increments were inadequate to lift them out of incapacitation and fell short of US$540 per month which they have been demanding for.

On Tuesday, Form One classes for 2022 felt the full brunt of the strike amid mixed turnout of teachers following last week’s suspension by the Government.

Teachers’ unions said their members would start reporting for work pending the conclusion of negotiations on salaries and benefits.

At some public schools, teachers did not report for duty, with most of them being those that were suspended for three months without pay by the Government.

“Some teachers did not report for duty today and some learners are no longer coming to school since they know the teachers are not there,” Zimbabwe National Union of School Heads (ZINUSH) secretary general Munyaradzi Majoni told State media yesterday.

“We are hoping that the meeting between unions and Government will be fruitful and teachers return to work as soon as possible,” he said.

The package offered by the Government to civil servants and teachers includes a 20 percent increment across the board backdated to January 1, with the equivalent of US$100 of this in foreign currency from next month. There is also school fees support for three children and 34 000 flats to be built over five years.

Govt develops cold feet on teachers’ suspensions