Opinion

Minister has no power to suspend teachers

HORIZONTAL

By Dr Takavafira Zhou

Revolutionary greetings incapacitated teachers in quandary. Our incapacitation has reached another level of intimidation by the line Ministry in an attempt to force us to borrow in order to go to work. That process is unpalatable and we urge the Ministry to assist teachers to lobby both PSC and Finance Minister to capacitate teachers by paying US$540.

The Minister of Primary and Secondary Education has no power to suspend teachers. In October 2002, the then Minister of Education T.K. Tsodzo suspended 629 Ptuz aligned teachers in Harare due to a union led strike.

The courts ruled that the minister had no locus standi to suspend teachers. All the 629 teachers were reinstated, but of course after some inconvenience of going for some months on half salary and food hampers that the union could afford then. So, the current minister is walking along the defective path that already has a precedent ruling.

Even the Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare cannot blanketly suspend teachers. It can only do that by writing to individual teachers. At any rate as Ptuz, we have written to PSC notifying them about the incapacitation of teachers and copied the communique to our line ministry.

HORIZONTAL

All what Minister of Education could have done is to approach Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare to raise a show cause order giving teachers an order to report for work within a specified period.

Even that would only happen for teachers on industrial action or strike. Teachers are currently not on strike but are incapacitated and the only way to address this is to capacitate teachers. We encourage the minister to respect the law of the land and not to make glaring legal errors and thereby creating a legal lacuna.

What offence have teachers really committed? Is it an offence to remind an employer that has unilaterally reduced teachers’ salaries to restore the US$540? As Ptuz, we are ready to take the legal route once any of our members receives a suspension letter.

It is sad that instead of adopting a more considerate approach permeable to reason and facts the ministry officials and government have decided to use defective command and control tactics that have no traction.

HORIZONTAL

That decision is tantamount to closing schools as more than 135 000 teachers out of 140 000 are incapacitated. One wonders whether this is what she calls open door policy when her door is closed. Is it because she is surrounded by criminals, we wonder?

We urge our members to remain calm but to get in touch with nearest union leaders once you receive a suspension letter.

We urge heads of schools that the incapacitation struggle is an inclusive struggle that also affect school heads.

Never be abused by a system that has also incapacitated you. As Ptuz, we will never accept the taking of labour laws to the Colonial Master and Servant Act. We certainly cannot move the clock back to the Rhodesian Front, 42 years after independence.

We will defend the liberation legacy in terms of defending fair labour practice and monumental justice.

We remain ready for meaningful dialogue as Teacher Union leaders and urge all and sundry to make professional decisions coloured by educational taxonomy as opposed to emotional and suicidal decisions.

Venceremos

Dr Takavafira M. Zhou, Ptuz President

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