Dialogue and Not Illogical Threats Can provide a Panacea to the Impasse in Schools
7 November 2020
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7 November 2020

By Dr Takavafira Zhou| We note with deep concern the unbridled arrogance of Public Service Commission (the employer) and Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education (as line ministry) through circulars dated 26 October and 6 November, respectively. The circulars call for the submission of schedule of all teachers who have been absenting themselves from work between the 28th of September and 6th November and threaten to take appropriate action in terms of Public Service Regulstions as well as the “No work no pay” principle.

Fundamentally it is not a crime to be absent in terms of Public Service Regulations. Rather it is a crime to be absent without a good cause. Worse still teachers have not been absent from duty as this gives a wrong impression that they had capacity to be present. Teachers have been and are still grossly incapacitated and therefore have no capacity to report for work. They, therefore, have a good cause for not reporting for work, which cause has been communicated to both Public Service Commission and line ministry by individual teacher unions, as well as the United Front of Teacher Unions. Therefore in terms of the law, both the Public Service Commission and Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education have no locus standi (legal standing) to take any punitive action against teachers. Worse still they have not even bothered to respond to communiques directed to them by individual teacher unions as well as by the United Front of Teacher Unions. In light of the foregoing, the dual threat must be viewed at best as a fantasy and at worst a desperate attempt to drive teachers to schools now that all students must be in school by next week.

Our humble submission to all teachers is that its game on next week as our incapacitation enters a decisive phase. We will no eat threats. No amount of threat and brutality can drive teachers to schools. Only the capacitation of teachers is an antidote to real incapacitation faced by teachers.

To school heads like teachers under your management, you have tested positive to poverty. You must never assist the Ministry to compile names of incapacitated teachers. Let the Ministry do it alone. We dont want to find ourselves fighting legal battles against our colleagues who are shimmering in poverty as the rest of teachers.

We applaud parents who have added their voices to the call for the capacitation of teachers. We call upon all other silent parents to rise up and applify teachers’ voices in order to build a credible education system.

We remind Public Service Commission and Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education not to be trigger happy and unnecessarily threaten professional teachers who have done so much with so little. Dialogue, logical disputation and clear presentation of facts is what we expect from the employer and line ministry. Sadly, we have only noted poverty of leadership, selective forgetful, and cold and calculated educational vandalism. We want to warn you that any unlawful punishment of any teacher would attract action from all teachers. A threat to one teacher in Zimbabwe, is a threat to all teachers in Zimbabwe. We would be ready to defend our members by all democratic and legal means possible. It is however, our hope that Public Service Commission and line Ministry would mellow down to a more constructive approach permeable to reason and facts rather than raise a legal lacuna and walk the path of destruction that would neither help the teachers, pupils, the education system and nation at large. Needless to point that professional positive criticism from unions must nourish leadership. Cross pollination of ideas is better than self pollination.

To the gvt we reiterate our long held view that well paid teachers in health and safe schools, is a must for quality public education. Incapacitation of teachers is real, pay us a living wage and you will see us in schools.

Teachers are a vital cog of national development and must be well paid and supported by gvt in order to be more dynamic and innovative, let alone be agents of a skills revolution under Agenda 2030. We are indeed managers of the world’s best asset, viz, children and must not be treated as if we are of no account. Any threats will be resisted with equal and opposing force. As professionals we must be broadly consulted and our input must inform educational innovations and changes. We are eager to make meaningful contributions to the creation of a credible and veritable system of education in Zimbabwe, but must be treated as professional workers and not slaves. Pay us well.

Venceremos

Dr Takavafira M. Zhou (Ptuz President)