Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council (Zimsec) markers yesterday downed tools in dispute over allowances, which could delay the release of the 2021 Ordinary and Advanced Level results.
The teachers said Zimsec had failed to honour its pledge to pay them US$25 per day for those staying out of residence and US$12 per day for those in residence.
Instead, they received $19 000 and $9 500 for the 28 days of marking respectively, prompting a walkout.
In Manicaland province, a leaked video showed Zimsec officials being booed by disgruntled teachers at Marymount Teachers College who were refusing to mark the A-Level Geography paper before they were paid the outstanding allowances.
“We are aware that we owe you. The other group is owed 50%, while the first phase is owed 75%, but be assured that by the end of this week, we will make sure that everything is settled,” a Zimsec official in Manicaland could be heard telling the teachers.
At Hillside Teachers College in Bulawayo, teachers marking the O-Level History paper downed tools on Friday last week.
This was confirmed yesterday by Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) president Takavafira Zhou.
“Teachers are just asking for their share. They are not charity workers. The responsibility of running a country’s examination centre is not child’s play. Zimsec must stop forthwith treating teachers who are examiners as if they are of no account. We are aware that examiners started boycotting marking examinations last week on Friday, and that the boycott is continuing. Zimsec must urgently resolve the quandary that teachers are facing or else face the wrath of teachers,” he said.
“Teachers, who checked in for marking as far back as February 9, have not been paid their T&S [travel and subsistence] allowances. It is unfortunate that markers are not in residential accommodation. We have also received reports of examiners becoming stressed and collapsing or dying because of Zimsec ill-treatment.”
In Gweru, police had to be called in following a stand-off between Zimsec officials and teachers that were marking the O-Level Heritage Studies (History) papers at the Midlands State University.
PTUZ secretary-general Raymond Majongwe claimed that three markers were arrested in Gweru.
“This is criminalisation of people who have genuine grievances that must be taken care of. It appears that Zimsec and the government are conniving to get slave labour, and they must separate between crime and genuine cases. Police have arrested two male markers and one female marker and we are calling for their release. Otherwise we will call for everybody to down their tools,” he said.
Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi confirmed that there was a disagreement between the markers and Zimsec.
“Police were only called in to ensure that law and order prevailed. No one was assaulted or forced to do what they did not want to do,” Nyathi said.
He said after negotiations, 50 markers went back into the marking room while 150 who were mingling outside were asked to either leave the campus or go back to their duties.
They later rejoined their counterparts.
Nyathi said he was not aware of any markers who were arrested.
Primary and Secondary Education ministry spokesperson Taungana Ndoro said he could not comment as it was a Zimsec issue.
Zimsec spokesperson Nicholette Dhlamini said: “I have confirmed with teachers at Hillside and other areas, there is no strike. All teachers are marking.”