The stand-off between government and striking teachers, deputy heads and heads of schools took a new twist Wednesday when the Public Service Commission (PSC) issued an ultimatum on the defiant educators to report for work latest 22 February 2022 or be deemed to have resigned.
This follows three months suspensions issued by the education ministry this past week.
The suspensions have been challenged as illegal by teachers’ groups which argued the minister had no powers to make such pronouncements.
But in new developments, the PSC warned Tuesday that teachers who would not have reported for duty by 22 February would be deemed to have resigned.
Teachers insist they are not on strike but are not able to report to work due to their paltry wages.
We produce the full statement below as issued by the PSC.
- The opening of schools has brought to the fore the importance of safeguarding the inalienable right of every Zimbabwean child to an education as provided for in Section 75 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
- It is in this context that Government has, in its efforts to improve the welfare of its workers, continued to engage with workers’ representatives in the National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC).
- The NJNC meeting held on the 11th of February 2022 welcomed the directive by His Excellency President E.D. Mnangagwa to improve the Government offer to its employees through a combination of monetary and non-monetary incentives.
- In the category of non-monetary benefits, teachers would benefit from a school fees exemption to cover three children per family.
- Plans were also announced to construct institutional accommodation for teachers at or around the school premises. The total would be 34 000 units over a five-year period.
- Government shall maintain the current vehicle duty-free privilege for civil servants.
- Advancement awards within grades, which had been suspended for some time, will be resumed with immediate effect to recognize seniority.
- Government notes with concern that, in spite of the significant steps it has taken to improve conditions of service, working with the Apex Council, some teachers continue to absent themselves from work, with some reporting for duty but not working.
- This has had the effect of depriving learners of their inalienable right to education as well as prejudicing parents of their significant investment in their children’s education.
- This behaviour on the part of some teachers is all the more distressing in view of the fact that it is coming at a time when learners have already lost more than a month of learning in 2022 alone due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and were therefore looking forward to the opportunity to catch up with their studies.
- Such behaviour cannot be tolerated as it will have a lasting, negative impact on an entire generation.
- It is in this context that Government is taking the following measures:
- All teachers, deputy heads and heads of schools who do not report for duty by Tuesday 22 February 2022 will be deemed to have resigned from the service;
- Those reporting for duty but not teaching will also be deemed to have resigned;
- All those who will have in that manner so resigned and were occupying institutional accommodation are expected to vacate the same with immediate effect;
- Unemployed trained teachers, university and college graduates in the sciences, engineering, technical, vocational areas and other disciplines who are interested in joining the teaching profession should ensure that they are registered at the nearest district education offices as the recruitment process shall begin soon after the 22nd of February 2022; and
- Those deemed to have resigned shall not be eligible for this recruitment.
13. Government has taken the position that it will now work with those who demonstrate their commitment by performing their duties at all times to serve the nation.
14. In terms of Section 75 sub-section 4 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, concerning the right to education, the Government of Zimbabwe has already taken reasonable legislative and other measures, within the limits of the resources available to it, to achieve the progressive realisation of the right to education.