Tinashe Sambiri|Former Zaka Central MP, Harison Mudzuri has urged civil servants to unite in the fight for decent working conditions.
Mudzuri is the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe national coordinator.
According to Mudzuri, the victim mentality is crippling the civil service.
Below is his full presentation…
THE VICTIM MENTALITY CRIPPLES THE CIVIL SERVANTS IN ZIMBABWE
By Mudzuri Harison (PTUZ National Coordinator)
When faced with danger or discomfort, animals resort to three means of survival: Fight, Flight, orFreeze. When fight is the option animals confront the danger head on. When flight is the choice taken animals resort to fleeing- running away or avoiding engagement. When freeze is chosen, the animals stand still and fake death- hoping the danger will go away.
Just like animals, human beings also use the three types of responses to danger or discomfort: fight,
flight and freeze. Teachers and other civil servants in Zimbabwe, being humans, have the same options when responding to the discomfort of working for the government of Zimbabwe due to poor salaries and poor working conditions.
Teachers now earn a salary that is way below the poverty datum line (PDL). Their work load is
monstrously and frighteningly big and burdensome; we have new subjects introduced without
consultation, we have CALA, we have RBM, and stressful pensions given to teachers on retirement. You
could easily argue that teachers are the new beasts of burden, the government’s donkey, the Benjamins
of Animal Farm. But unlike that Benjamin, teachers should not accept inordinate burden without
With these unbearable working conditions, the Zimbabwean government is even surprised how
teachers have endured to this far. The parents and other concerned stakeholders have even been
surprised how teachers have been coping with this inhumane and degrading treatment. A circulating
joke, which is a bit real, says that teachers and other civil servants should actually be investigated for
continuing to report for duty, and actually surviving, with so little which has to cover so much.
That being the case, the majority of the Zimbabwean civil servants have resorted to flight or freeze.
Using the flight mode of response, the government workers have left their jobs and sought alternative employment or become self-employed. This does not solve the problems in the sector. The pension benefits they will receive after running away from their noble profession are a reminder that the
discomfort still remains.
Of those that do not choose to run away, the majority choose to freeze. In this mode, the civil servants resort to do nothing about it. They have accepted their fate. They believe that their fate was determined long back by some god or other supernatural being or by their government. They believe that they are victims of the system and as victims they cannot change anything. According to them, if anything is to change it depends on the mercy or generosity of the government.
These are the civil servants, teachers included, who would say to themselves, “We have tried
negotiations, strikes, incapacitation, petitions, and litigation and nothing has changed. This government will never listen to us, so it is better to just work and forget about improved working conditions.” As some would tell you, under the guise of wisdom, a teacher should have many projects that make
him/her survive as well as fend for the family. But the unstated truth in that statement is that it is the responsibility of government to cater for the remuneration of its employees.
These types of civil servants would have resigned to fatalism and victim mentality. They are like a timid child who closes his/her eyes when a snake is about to bite him/her. Closing of eyes does not remove the danger at all but gives the snake ample time to strike as it pleases.
What then is helpful? What should these civil servants DO?
They MUST take charge and not leave their needs, interest and survival to chance. They must be masters of the destiny. If they don’t demand or fight for better salaries and for better living conditions no one, not even a good Samaritan, will come to their rescue.
No matter how docile and pacified they become, no matter how tolerant they become, no matter how many of them leave their jobs, and no matter how ‘quiet’ and passive they are, their living and working conditions will not miraculously improve.
This has nothing to do about teachers being the largest group of the civil servants, it has nothing to do with nurses and doctors, neither has it anything to do with those in the security sector. It has everything to do with every government worker in Zimbabwe.
Come together and demand what you deserve. You are your own liberators.
Unite and fight one war with one objective and one mission.