TEACHERS yesterday scoffed at President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s threats to withhold their salaries for engaging in a strike, saying the move would be fiercely fought in court.
Schools reopened on September 28 after closing for six months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but most teachers failed to report for duty, citing incapacitation.
Mnangagwa on Wednesday admitted that the majority of teachers were not at work.
He said less than 30% of teachers had reported for work to prepare students for final examinations and threatened to withhold salaries for those on strike.
Teachers yesterday said they were unfazed by Mnangagwa’s threats and would not report for work until government awards them a living wage.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) said the withholding of salaries for teachers would be challenged in court.
He said the same happened in 2002, where 627 suspended teachers successfully challenged the decision in court.
“The employer cannot and should not cease the salary without following due processes,” PTUZ said in a statement. “It will be illegal and can be challenged in a competent court.”
PTUZ secretary-general Raymond Majongwe said they were ready to negotiate with Mnangagwa’s government over the welfare of teachers.
He said they did not expect threats from the government, but dialogue.
“From what I heard, the President did not threaten us, but he asked for dialogue with us. If he said let us meet today, we will meet him. We do not expect threats from the government because we don’t eat threats. We have raised genuine concerns that need to be solved,” Majongwe said.
Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz) spokesperson Nation Mudzitirwa said Mnangagwa must focus on delivering his mandate of paying teachers a living wage than resorting to threats.
“The President must focus on delivering his mandate of paying teachers a living,” Mudzitirwa said.
“The threats of ceasing incapacitated teachers’ salaries are both misplaced and cowardly. He knows that teachers, who are earning a monthly salary of US$30, cannot afford to meet all the expenses to be able to report for duty, including taking care of their families.”
He said the government should engage the educators through their unions and reach a fair agreement to save the education system from total collapse.