TEACHERS have blasted government and told Primary and Secondary Education minister Paul Mavima to go hang and stop intimidating them through threats as the strike action which they are planning to hold as soon as schools open on May 8 is their constitutional right.
The Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association (Zimta) yesterday called Mavima to order after he threatened them, saying that the government will not watch the education sector “deteriorate into chaos”.
Zimta had no kind words for Mavima, saying that he had no mandate to address them as workers as they were not employed by the Primary and Secondary Education ministry.
The statement by Zimta supports statements made earlier by teachers’ unions such as the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe led by Raymond Majongwe, and the Federation of Zimbabwe Educators’ Union led by Emmanuel Nyawo, who also told the minister to go hang.
“The Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association, hereby, categorically states that no amount of threats or illegal declarations from individuals in government will stop or intimidate teachers from exercising their Constitutional and legal right to participate in industrial action,” Zimta said in a statement.
“For the avoidance of doubt, members must not be intimidated or threatened by service ministers such as Mavima, whose ministry has been on record as not having the mandate to address workers’ conditions of service because they are not the employer,” they said.
But, teachers said Mavima must also abide by the same Constitution which gives the workers the right to withdraw their labour, wherever and whenever working conditions were unsatisfactory. They said their decision to embark on industrial action should not be viewed as a political ploy to dislodge the government.
“Threats and allegations that link collective job action to political parties are just unfortunate and meant to strangle and suppress workers’ rights in a democratic country such as Zimbabwe. Zimta wishes to remind Mavima that unions in education exist for the sole mandate of representing the welfare of members and are in no way; a rival to political parties or to him as a head of a service ministry, and can he be guided accordingly,” they said.
In an interview with NewsDay, Zimta president Richard Gundani said the strike action by the teachers was not politically-motivated.
“The impending teachers’ strike is not at all politically-motivated, and we stand for ourselves as teachers and not for any political party. Government should stop threatening us because we are not political, we are an organisation which was formed in 1942 and we are not organised by any political party,” he said.
He said teachers were only worried about issues to do with their rights and welfare. He also demanded that schools should be de-politicised.
“It is important that schools are de-politicised so that our learners are not disturbed, and that the learning environment is conducive. School children should be protected and not be used by anyone,” he said.
Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe national president Obert Masaraure said rural teachers and school children were the worst affected during elections.