Public Service Minister Paul Mavima summoned teachers’ representatives to a meeting in Harare on Monday amid their demands for the government to review their salaries and an ongoing strike.
Two weeks ago, all nine teachers unions vowed not to return to work until President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s under-fire administration agreed to pay them in USDs as per their 2012 agreement.
They said they were not moved by threats of dismissal uttered by Primary and Secondary Education Minister Cain Mathema who has said thousands of teachers are on standby to replace those who have refused to go back to work.
In a statement, Zimbabwe National Teachers Union (ZINATU) chief executive Manuel Nyawo said its members would not return to work unless the government meets their demands and accused Mathema of causing anarchy and discord.
“We wish to start by thanking the listening, passionate, forthcoming, action-oriented, sympathetic, focused, and objective Hon Minister Professor Paul Mavima for the gesture he has extended to all teacher unions for a meeting with him tomorrow (Monday). He never at any point directed threats of dismissals on us when he was Education Minister.
“However, we wish to very sadly and regrettably point out to the good professor that his appeal that we go back to work as negotiations with unions are in progress is not sustainably actionable.
“Our reasons are very simple, the Hon Professor needs to be further briefed why we are at home. Teachers have declared incapacitation. Our children who should have gone to their boarding schools are still with us at home. Our own employer has incapacitated us,” he said.
Nyawo added that their incapacitation issue had not been attended to.
“To be able to go back to work, put us at par with our counterparts whom you awarded more than us in June and the money must be backdated to the same month. We will use this money to carry our belongings to our stations but subject to meeting other conditions as raised below.
“Give us a living wage that will enable us to pay between $28 000 and $40 000 in boarding fees which have been approved by the Ministry.
“The approval we presume was premised on the general range of civil servants’ salaries, teachers included with the assumption that we are capable of raising these fees from our salaries and so the need for an upward adjustment must not be a tall order.
“That alone should tell you that any figure below $40 000 as salary for teachers is just not enough and your colleague Minister Cain Mathema who is reckless with his mouth must attest to that,” Nyawo said.
He added, “Be informed and rest assured that by copy of this communique our members shall peacefully stay at home until further notice and realistic payments are made into their accounts or alternatively sound agreements are signed. We as ZINATU are not fighting the government but are not motivated to go to work.
“Our spirits are at their lowest ebb and we don’t deserve reckless and provocative words as came from Minister Mathema who seems to have a penchant for distaste for teachers. He should desist from breeding anarchy and discord. If he wants our respect, he should respect us too.”