By Staff Reporter
POLICE officers stormed Midlands State University (MSU) premises housing Zimbabwe School Examinations (ZIMSEC) Ordinary Level examiners and arrested two of them following a heated dispute over the payment of allowances.
The standoff could delay the release of the 2021 Form 4 and A’ Level results.
Teachers’ unions said two teachers were arrested in Gweru, where police ordered the striking markers to confine themselves to their rooms.
The Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union (ARTUZ) said the standoff began after ZIMSEC failed to pay the teachers their travel and subsistence allowances.
Initially ZIMSEC had promised exam markers US$25 per day for those staying out of residence and US$12 per day for those in residence. The money was to be paid at the prevailing official exchange rate.
Once the teachers arrived at the marking centres, however, they were paid paltry amounts of Z$9,000 for those staying in residence and ZW$19 000 for those outside residence to sustain them during the 26-28 days of marking.
“At Marymount Teachers’ College, A’ Level Geography examiners stopped marking. The examiners didn’t receive the promised 25 percent of T & S allowances. ZIMSEC has failed to pay for transport, meals and accommodation but still expects teachers to mark,” ARTUZ said.
The union said examiners were “brutalised” by police at the Midlands State University in Gweru.
Police spokesman Paul Nyathi said police were not deployed to disperse teachers but to facilitate negotiations between ZIMSEC officials and the teachers.
“The teachers were not dispersed by the police; they had a misunderstanding with ZIMSEC officials. The police were called in to negotiate between teachers and ZIMSEC officials. So far, I have not heard of any reports of two teachers that were arrested,” he said.
Nyathi said after negotiations, 150 teachers agreed to return to marking.
Rights lawyers have intervened to provide legal assistance to the two arrested teachers.
“Markers have been forcibly confined to their rooms at the Midlands State University in Gweru. In Masvingo, ZIMSEC officials have barricaded themselves inside their office. In all other centres markers are on go-slow. Does the marking session still retain its integrity, and can the results be relied upon? ZIMSEC should immediately stop this modern-day slavery,” the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe said.
A source at another marking centre at Mutare Polytechnic said markers had also joined the strike.
A ZIMSEC regional director was reportedly sent to the college to address the markers. After gathering the teachers, he asked one of them to pray.
The source said: “A teacher volunteered, it was not a prayer, it was a statement. He said ‘God the organisation that gathered us here wants to proceed by way of threats.’ He also asked God to act on their consciences so that they release money.
“Another teacher carrying mapfura (sclerocarya birrea in English or amaganu in Ndebele said he last had a meal at lunch yesterday.”
ZIMSEC spokesperson Nicky Dhlamini said: “There are no strikes that have been reported, everyone is at work. I am not aware of anyone who has stopped marking. We have sufficient markers at all our centres and they are currently marking.”