By Leopold Munhende, Chief Reporter
CABINET was on Tuesday shocked by striking teachers’ disregard for its threats to suspend them and their decision to continue on industrial action since schools opened on February 7.
Speaking to journalists after Cabinet’s first sitting in 2022, information minister Monica Mutsvangwa said education minister Evelyn Ndlovu had been instructed to ‘take stern action’ against protesting teachers to end the ongoing crisis.
Teachers are demanding a US$540 salary, better working conditions and a better Covid-19 allowance.
Their demands were last week met with threats of a three months suspension with no pay for all engaged in the strike. This was soon after they had rubbished a 20% salary hike and US$25 Covid-19 hike dangled as part of government’s lucrative package.
“Cabinet noted with dismay the reported absenteeism by some teachers and Headmasters,” said Mutsvangwa.
“Of particular concern, is the alleged barring of some teachers from attending to their work as well as attendance by some teachers without delivering lessons.
“The minister of primary and secondary education has been instructed to take stern action in consultation with the chairman of the Public Service Commission (PSC)and the ministers of higher and tertiary education and Public Service, an appropriate statement on the matter will be issued by the Minister soonest.”
As Mutsvangwa announced an impending clampdown on the incapacitated teachers to journalists, the Progressive Teachers union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) was commending teachers for their resilience.
“The PTUZ would like to commend every member who is participating in the current show of incapacitation, which for the first time has included even school heads, and informally, almost the whole chain of command of the Ministry,” said PTUZ secretary general Takavafira Zhou.
“The action was proposed by FOZEU on 1 February, with others reacting by seeming to join the incapacitation, as they usually do. On Friday, the usurpers of the Apex Council reached an agreement with government to go back to work, which we disagreed with as FOZEU on Sunday.
“While the government expected us to troop back to work, teachers have been adamant that the offer falls far short of their expectations under the economic circumstances.”
Over 90% of the country’s teachers in public schools are said to not have been reporting for work in the past week.
The few reporting for duty are not conducting lessons, a situation that has left the country’s education sector in limbo as both government and teachers maintain their demands and offers respectably.