Which Way Forward?: Teachers are their own Liberators
23 October 2021
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By Dr Takavafira Zhou| Today is pay day for teachers – a day of agony and anguish among teachers in Zimbabwe. On such a day Ptuz leaders are inundated by teachers’ voices calling for Union action in order to get a living wage. But unless we analyse our weaknesses and strengths, the trajectory of mourning starvation wages will continue. As much as Ptuz deplores and denounces gvt’s lackadaisical approach in addressing teachers’ legitimate demands of the restoration of their purchasing power parity of salaries pegged at US$520-US$550, it is prudent for teachers to fight for their status restoration. The days of divine intervention are over, and teachers must define and defend an alternative way forward that can lift them from grass to grace.

Those that cant swim across a narrow river cannot suddenly find energy to swim across the ocean. If teachers are serious we must see such seriousness by following the current Ptuz modus operandi in toto. Teachers suggested a minimum of a day and maximum of two days work and Monday and Tuesday as alternative working days. Other teacher unions also suggested alternative way forward. Until there are no teachers in schools on Wednesday to Friday it would be difficult to listen to any mouths opening or whatsApp bravado currently pushing leaders for what is termed “total shut down.”

Teachers are their own liberators. Even slaves fought for their emancipation. When real poverty (ngwavaira teteguru venhamo) sinks deep among teachers, we will unite and deliver a coup degrade (final blow) against poverty and penury. None but teachers can change the current parlous state in the education system. Our concerted and unflinching pressure on the arrogant employer, PSC, would force the employer to concede to our legitimate demands and check commandist unilateralism epitomised by the so called ‘no work no pay’ when in reality teachers are incapacitated, let alone burdensome CALA and forced invigilation of public examination when teachers have no contract with Zimsec. The passivity and complicity of some teachers to the current starvation wages in Zimbabwe may certainly deserve a special case study as it baffles logic and common sense.

As Ptuz, we remain ready to lead, but only when we have enough brave teachers ready to liberate themselves, and not cry babies. We cannot continue to agonise and expect a miracle to improve our plight. But if we organise and unite across the union divide, we will emerge victorious. We are everything, yet we count for nothing. We either have to unite as sisters and brothers and fight a liberative struggle, or perish as fools. Teachers must walk their talk and talk their walk. Waiting on the touchline to watch a game you should be playing, and expect positive results has no traction. Let’s be part of the solution and not part of the problem.

Venceremos

Dr Takavafira M. Zhou, Ptuz President