Teachers being emotionally and physically murdered by the Zmbabwean government through denying them a decent wage.
By Dr Tawanda Wallace Mataka- In Zimbabwe it has become a curse to be a civil servant especially a teacher. The successive governments from the former President to the current have a total dislike and hatred for teachers yet they are the same people entrusted with civilizing the children and young adults in the world.
Teachers have been emotionally murdered and some in cold blood because they are presumed to be aligned to the Movement for Democratic Change led by Nelson Chamisa and previously Morgan Tsvangirayi. The punishment by the former leader was depriving them a salary adjustment.
Lives of teachers improved between 2008 and 2018 July because they were being paid in United States dollars and the economy was stable under the stewardship of Honourable Tendai Biti. Upon the establishment of the so called second republic, life of teachers has become traumatizing. At one point their salary was under US35 dollars.
This is made worse by a cruel finance minister whose dislike for teachers is sickening. This is a man whom I have nicknamed ‘Mr Surplus’. Every time he opens his mouth, he does not skip the word surplus. He has declared surpluses but teachers have no salaries that can sustain them for a week with their families. Worse still hospital bills. Teachers in Zimbabwe cannot afford specialized treatment for any ailment.
Luck are those who have a diaspora families that have decent jobs but the majority do not have. Some ministries have caring and forceful ministers who can challenge the bullish attitude of the finance minister and his secretary.
For instance the minister of higher education has fought for his lecturers and they have a decent salary and it has happened in the ministry of health. For teachers it is unfortunate and tragic that the minister, secretary and those that claim to stand for teachers seemingly are toothless.
Worse among them is a minister whom every time teachers complain about meagre salaries he threatens to fire them. The most worrying about the minister of finance, minister of education and secretary do not care about their own in Matabeleland.
They are on an overdrive to destroy the few schools left in Matabelelend by making sure teachers are frustrated and resign enmass from the region, those who are keen to develop the schools in the region are frustrated until they leave. And you ask if they will be able to listen to anyone when they cannot help in their background. Further, the language they speak when faced with teachers concerns is vitriolic.
It is full of hate and anger. One wonders if they are there to serve or they are there for their personal interests. It is my strong belief that the minister of finance is on a mission to get all that he lost when his financial institution was closed and I doubt if he pays himself using useless RTGs.
To show that the minister is not for Zimbabwe, his family does not stay in Zimbabwe they stay in one of the most stable and developed countries in the world. In that regard, can you entrust the lives of the people of Zimbabwe with that person? I really doubt.
His secretary is a filthy rich individual who worked for the most prominent bank in Zimbabwe and he has enough to sustain himself and family for a life time and my assumption is that his children attend the best schools in Zimbabwe when our own are in public schools with unpaid teachers and without infrastructure.
The killing of teachers is equals to killing the children of the marginalised. Children of the poor are being deprived education by this cabal. The result is a continual intergenerational cycle of poverty. The child of the peasant will remain a gardener and a house maid of these politicians.
The child of the teacher will never become a teacher because the parent who is a teacher cannot afford to take him through school even that school he or she is teaching because the fees are beyond his/her rich.
Teachers in Zimbabwe have become a laughing stock by maids and gardeners in our neighbouring countries because they earn better and the economies in those countries are stable. This is painful, considering the role that a teacher plays in making sure that a country is stable, it is productive and it has a running economy.
When teachers complain of meagre salaries police and soldiers are send to brutalise them and the next day they send their kids to the same classes where the teacher has been beaten and injured. Zimbabwe has turned out to be a military state that no longer values civil liberties. Teachers are now surviving on other income generating activities to survive. They go to schools to teach because of the love for the innocent children.
However, the situation prevailing is a recipe for disaster. These children who are being neglected are going to be a thorn in the flesh of future governments and the country. More worse crime rate is going to be the worst in the region or even in Africa. The police and the army shall be outnumbered and illegal fire arms are going to be littered all over.
The monies that are being deprived teachers are going to be difficult to enjoy because the number of the have nots and angry citizens will be outnumbering the haves. I am utterly surprised that whoever is advising the powers that be is not being critical to this level.
Zimbabwean leaders must behave like other sensible leaders who value the welfare of teachers for a better Zimbabwe. Countries like Germany, Tunisia, Botswana, and South Africa pay their teachers and they are listened to. Whether the system like it or not the teacher will always remain the game changer in any given political set up. It is a travesty of justice to not listen to the concerns of teachers.
The children they are teaching are very much aware and one day they shall revenge on behalf of their teachers. It may be seen as far-fetched but it is going to happen and those who are busy looting shall be made to account. Leaders occupying political offices should remember that change comes or occurs when you least expect it.
Attend to the needs of teachers so that Zimbabwe reclaim its former glory as the education hub of Africa. I salute my colleagues in the trenches of Zimbabwean education who are assisting the kids in Zimbabwe. However, their love for the kids must not be taken to imply docility. They can change and once they agree that enough is enough you will not be able to handle the situation. And do not underestimate the power of those kids in schools, they can be another 1976 South African generation. Today they are in court demanding that teachers go back to school but tomorrow they will be telling you that we will not attend classes nor write exams until you pay our teachers a decent wage.
Lastly I encourage all the teachers unions in Zimbabwe to fight jointly for the life of teachers and the children of Zimbabwe. I also would like thank those members of Parliament like Temba Mliswa, Priscilla Misihairambwi and a few others to keep on fighting for the plight of teachers in parliament. It is a well-known fact that the majority of the members of parliament want to teachers suffering so that they manipulate them continuously in their constituencies.