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Teachers’ strike: Prof Mavima confident of a settlement

Prof Paul Mavima

The Minister of Public Service, Labour, and Social Welfare, Professor Paul Mavima has expressed confidence that the government is working on modalities to end the logjam with teachers who have downed tools countrywide in protest over poor salaries they claim have incapacitated them to go to work.

Professor Mavima made the remarks in an interview with Spiked Online Media after a salary negotiation meeting held by teachers unions and the government that reportedly yielded no positive results as teachers demand payment above the poverty datum line.

“While we note the demands of the teachers, we as government are doing everything in our capacity to reach an agreement. You will realise that as the government, we are open to dialogue and are doing best to improve the salaries for our teachers and the rest of the civil service as evidenced by the cost of living adjustment payout as well as the COVID-19 allowances. We are sure that very soon we will break this logjam,” Prof Mavima said.

However, Mr. Obert Masaraure, the President of the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) insisted that the only incentive to take teachers back to work is the restoration of the USD520 salary.

“Professor Paul Mavima and Minister of Primary and Secondary Education Ambassador Cain Mathema said they do not have the capacity to respond to our demands, therefore they will submit our demands for discussion in the cabinet meeting on Tuesday 6 October. But however, we told them that we will only report for duty when our demands are met. We are glad that the Public Service Minister clearly said no teacher will be fired for being incapacitated,” Mr. Masaraure said.

October 5 is World Teachers’ Day (WTD), a day set aside to commemorate the past historic global status of teachers, set benchmarks regarding the rights and responsibilities of teachers, and their participation in educational decisions through social dialogue and negotiations with responsible authorities.

Dr. Takavafira M. Zhou, the President of the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe bemoaned the fact that instead of commemorating such a day, Zimbabwean teachers were mourning the demise of the teaching profession.

“This year’s theme is ‘Leading in Crisis, Reimagining the Future.’ Apart from the unprecedented crisis of COVID-19 pandemic which has called for new pedagogical paradigms and technological innovations, we must certainly lead in the crisis of incapacitation and reimagine a better future with teachers regaining their leadership roles as a vital cog of sustainable development.

“Henceforth we urge all teachers to demonstrate their incapacitation by their absence from schools. The 40% awarded as COLA was a further insult to teachers and would further widen discrepancies between teachers’ salaries and other government workers as 40% of $3600 and 40% of $20000 are fundamentally different in quantum,” Dr. Zhou said.

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Byron Adonis Mutingwende