Minor Sues Own Teachers Over Strike
31 August 2021
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A pupil at Mafuko Primary School in Gwanda district, Matabeleland South province has approached the High Court seeking an order interdicting public schools teachers from striking over poor salaries and working conditions.
Teachers’ welfare issues have come under the spotlight as schools reopened yesterday following a Covid-19 induced long break.

Examination classes resumed face-to-face lessons yesterday while the rest of learners are returning to the classroom next Monday.

The minor Amohelang Ulukile Dube (9), who is being represented by her grandmother, Ms Senzeni Nyathi, through her lawyers Ndove and Associates, filed an urgent chamber application at the High Court in Bulawayo.

The applicant wants a court order barring teachers from interrupting learning through embarking on an industrial action.

In papers before the court, the Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta), Zimbabwe Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions, Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ), the chairperson of the Public Service Commission, Dr Vincent Hungwe, Primary and Secondary Education Minister Cain Mathema, Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Professor Paul Mavima and Minister of Finance and Economic Development Professor Mthuli Ncube, were cited as respondents.

The application follows recent threats by teachers not to resume work in the event that their demands for better working conditions are not met by the Government. They are demanding that Government pays them US$550 or its equivalent in local currency.

In her founding affidavit, Ms Nyathi said the actions of the cited teachers unions and their members to refuse to take up classes over salary grievances and working conditions coupled with the non-intervention of the Government, constitutes a violation of the children’s right to education as enshrined in sections 75 and 81 of the Constitution.

She wants the teachers’ unions together with their members interdicted from boycotting classes with all teachers being directed to report for duty within 48 hours of the granting of the order.

“I further seek ancillary relief to the effect that the Government be ordered and mandated to provide teaching staff to ensure that there would be no interruption of teaching services or classes at all public primary and secondary schools in Zimbabwe so that the children’s right to education is not violated,” said Ms Nyathi.

The applicant said in the event that teachers refuse to comply, Government should be directed to take all measures to ensure that there is no interruption of classes at all public schools.

Ms Nyathi said learners have lost the whole academic year due to the stalemate between the Government and the teachers unions over salary issues.

“Sometimes, at Mafuko Primary School, there would be a skeleton staff throughout the entire term. Such skeleton staff normally resorts to an undesirable scenario whereby different grades are combined and taught by one teacher and this compromises the quality of learning as the level of competence between different grades is not the same,” she said.

“At times, the whole school is left with only one teacher who will not afford to teach all the grades. The Government seems to be indifferent to the plight of our children in the schools as they have done nothing to remedy the situation.”

Ms Nyathi said the impasse between teachers and Government is affecting learners throughout the country. -Chronicle