After losing 6 months schooling to covid-19 Zimbabweans to lose even more to familiar foe
1 October 2020

BY: Nomusa Garikai


School and colleges were closed at the outbreak of the corona virus in March and are supposed to reopen this week, after six months. I remember missing a week or two of schooling and can only imagine what it would be like to lose six months. I share the anger and frustration of the students and the nation at large at the news schooling will NOT restart because of an outstanding issue – teachers’ wage dispute. 

What is infuriating is that the teachers’ wage dispute was on the table before the March corona virus lockdown; government has had the last six months to resolve this matter. Government is only now offering teachers “a cushioning allowance in the week ending October 2”.

“There are fundamental errors in that statement,” Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Takavafira Zhou said.

“Teachers have not requested for a cushion, they have requested for the restoration of their purchasing power to 2018 salaries pegged at US$550.

“This is what the teacher has presented to government. If government is now presenting another offer subject to what teachers have not requested, this is misfiring. What teachers want is that government must address their dispute of right.”

Some teachers are being paid as little as US$30 per month! There is no questioning that this is is not a living wage. 

There is no denying that we must get the children back to school; they have lost six months of formal education already and, like everything in this life, they will never recover that lost time. Never!They cannot turn back the clock; none of us can. The last thing they wanted is to be losing even more schooling time! 

The quality of education in Zimbabwe has suffered greatly because of decades of under funding; schools are in poor state of rot and decay and the teachers are poorly paid. In the last two decades, many schools and colleges, especially the government owned institutions, have barely managed to produce 5% pass rates. 

We cannot provide adequate funding to our schools and colleges and pay the teachers a living wage as long as the country’s economy remains in a mess. 40 years of gross mismanagement and rampant corruption under this Zanu PF dictatorship have led the country’s economy in ruins. 

Our failure to revive the economy and with it our education system will only drag the nation even deeper into the economic abyss. What hope is there of reviving the economy with a poorly educated citizenry? 

Whilst it is clear that Mnangagwa and his Zanu PF cronies have no clue what to do to revive the country’s economy. Sadly, it is also crystal clear the party is determined to continue rigging the elections and, if need be use wanton violence, to retain the de facto one-party dictatorship that has ruled the nation these last 40 years. 

Zimbabwe is stuck with a corrupt and incompetent Zanu PF dictatorship that has remained in power these 40 years because it rigged the elections. Stop the regime rigging elections, this is the soft underbelly of the beast, and you end the dictatorship. 

During the 2008 to 2013 GNU, Zimbabwe had its best chance ever to implement the democratic reforms designed to take away Zanu PF’s carte blanche powers to rig elections. Sadly, Morgan Tsvangirai and his fellow MDC leaders sold out and failed to get even one reform implemented. And to add insult to injury, MDC has since been participating in flawed and illegal elections giving the vote rigging Zanu PF some modicum of legitimacy. 

To get another chance to implement the reforms; we must show that MDC and the rest in the opposition camp who continue to participate in these flawed elections no long represent the ordinary people. A tall order, given many MDC supporters are naive and gullible. They, even now with all the benefit of hindsight, still fail to understand what the 2008 GNU was about and hence fail to see how the MDC leaders sold-out. 

Deny Zanu PF the modicum of legitimacy from the participation of credible opposition in the flawed elections and the party will be forced to once again accept the need for implementing reforms. It was the international community’s, including SADC and AU, refusal to accept Zanu PF’s legitimacy following the 2008 rigged elections that forced Mugabe to sign the 2008 Global Political Agreement, agreeing to the need for democratic reforms. 

Mnangagwa and company rigged the 2018 elections, the regime is illegitimate and must step down. The modicum of legitimacy Zanu PF is enjoys is derived from the opposition participation in the flawed and illegal elections. Nelson Chamisa and his MDC friends are corrupt, incompetent and sell-outs. They have lost political credibility. 

Zimbabwe is facing a serious existential crisis and desperately needs to implement the democratic reforms to end the curse of rigged elections and bad governance. It is intolerable that the nation should be held to ransom by a vote rigging ipso facto illegitimate regime, Zanu PF, plus its discredited political partner, MDC; who are blocking the reforms.