The president of the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) Dr Takavafira Zhou has criticised the Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, Paul Mavima after he allegedly supported the emergence of a parents’ union meant to thwart teachers’ industrial action.
NewsDay reports that the yet to be registered Zimbabwe Parents Union is led by Martin Maziwisa and has since created a WhatsApp group for membership mobilisation purposes.
A message sent by Maziwisa to the group observed that there is a stand-off between the government and teachers over salaries and working conditions adding that the impasse has greatly affected students’ learning. Further reads the message:
We hope that if we broaden our inputs as parents, we will tackle some of these issues and mediate so that our children are not deprived in terms of education. Let’s safeguard our future generations and chart their destiny. We are the voice of the voiceless.
As parents, we won’t accept unrealistic demands which we know government won’t endorse. Demanding salaries of US$520 is absolutely unrealistic. That is why the government won’t budge.
Mavima responded to the chat, saying that teachers should know that the US$520 salary that they were demanding was not possible in the prevailing economic context.
Takavafira Zhou said Mavima was trying to assist parents to form a union against trade unions in the public sector adding that “these State-captured unions” have nothing to offer besides a false assumption of engagement where there is none. He said:
Mavima must mellow down to a more constructive approach of engagement than this pretentious and closeted approach to labour issues. He is certainly offside and is exuding prejudice and narrow-mindedness. We do not expect this to come from a professor.
Teachers who earn about US$30 refused to return to work when schools reopened on 28 September saying they were incapacitated.
They are vowing not to return to work until the government has restored their 2018 salaries.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa indicated during his State of the Nation Address (Sona) last week that he was aware of the teachers’ grievances.