Absenteeism and Incapacitation Are 2 Different Things: Govt Must Urgently Address
25 October 2021
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…Poverty Facing Teachers…
By Dr Takavafira M. Zhou | We note with deep concern a communique dated 14 October to all Provincial Directors, and from Perm Sec of the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, Mrs Thabela, over the purported teachers’ absenteeism. The communique claims that PSC has observed that “some teachers are not reporting for duty since schools reopened on 6 September 2021. In line with the ‘no work, no pay’ principle, members who absent themselves from work should not receive their salaries for the period they were absent.” The Perm Sec called for the submission of names of teachers who allegedly have not been reporting for duty to Head Office urgently.

For the record there are no teachers who have deliberately been absent from work. Rather teachers have always wanted to report for work daily but are incapacitated. To assume that teachers can report for work daily after receiving $23000 is ludicrous hallucination of the worst order. The starvation wage that teachers are currently getting is even less than one fifth of the average US$540 teachers were getting prior to October 2018. The principle of ‘no work, no pay’ can only be properly applied after the restoration of US$540.

PTUZ

What teachers have been doing is operating on a balance sheet taking into cognisance their incapacitation and students’ interests. In pursuant of this teachers are reporting a minimum of once a week and a maximum of twice a week. What the Perm Sec must do is to engage teachers before ordering for the victimisation of teachers over false allegation of absenteeism, when practically teachers are incapacitated. It is clear PSC has lost touch with reality of teachers’ salaries. Sadly, instead of realigning PSC’s misconception the Ministry of Education seem to be dancing to its malodorous misconception and homelitic bellicose. Taungana Ndoro, even thinks there are Unions urging teachers to absent themselves from work, when in reality it is incapacitation that has riddled teachers’ intention to report for work daily. A survey of transport cost, the exorbitant prices of basic commodities, utility bills, school fees, medical costs, NSSA contributions, etc, would show that teachers cant make ends meet. Teachers are not necessarily down on their knees but in the terminal ward.

Any attempt to punish teachers, without addressing their plight will attract resistance from teachers and the ‘no pay (US$540), no work’ principle. Action and reaction are equal and opposite. As Ptuz, we want to make it categorically clear, without any equivocation or smbiguity, that teachers are tired of the so few earning more than $214 000 attacking poor teachers for doing so much with so little. They will resist cold and calculated educational vandalism by PSC and some Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education officials by all means necessary. We appeal to the new Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Dr Ndlovu, and President Mnangagwa to urgently intervene on behalf of teachers and save our education system. However, should they fail to intervene, teachers must be flag bearers of their own independence. Life is too short to spend it in misery. PSC and line Ministry must never underestimate the power of hungry and angry teachers in their numbers. Teachers are even clamouring for a total shut down of schools, but as responsible leaders we have been knocking at every gvt and Ministry door in order to save our education system. Two parliamentary Portifolio committees even confirmed the poverty and misery of teachers, and we wonder why gvt has not implemented their proffered recommendations. The Minister of Public Service, Prof Mavima has been lying that negotiations are ongoing where there is virtually no negotiation taking place, even with the defective Apex Council, which has also become a liability to civil servants in general and teachers in particular. We have been channelling teachers’ pent up anger to meaningful direction hoping the gvt would restore their purchasing power parity. The pressure from educators is just too strong, and unless gvt intervenes urgently, we should not be blamed for any eventuality. The gathering clouds of a United Front of all Unions, and all teachers in schools across the Union divide are fast spreading. It’s clear that the anger and poverty may ‘rain soon’ and some people will get wet. Responsible officials must provide a solution rather than bank on threats and so called ‘no work, no pay’ that ultimately has no traction and is defective.

Teachers of Zimbabwe Unite. You have nothing to lose but the chains of poverty, and a status to restore from grass to grace, and a mother of all professions to protect as a vital cog of sustainable national development.

Venceremos

Dr Takavafira M. Zhou, Ptuz President