HARARE – Government has pleaded with teachers to call off a strike planned for next Monday, saying the move will sabotage on-going dialogue.
This comes as the Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz) has advised that its members will down tools over their unpaid 2016 bonuses, despite numerous promises by the authorities.
In a letter to Artuz secretary-general Robson Chere, Public Service ministry permanent secretary Ngoni Masoka said government was disappointed with the decision, given the on-going talks with Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor John Mangudya.
Public Service minister Prisca Mupfumira is also part of the engagements.
“Therefore, your intention to proceed on strike on a matter that is under consideration is detrimental to social dialogue. You are implored to give negotiations a chance,” Masoka said.
The hard-pressed government has made three offers to the restive civil servants in lieu of bonus in cash, including giving them serviced stands in a deal in which it pays 50 percent of the bonus in the form of land and the other half paid in staggered cash payments.
It is also offering payment of bonuses in the form of a dividend where, instead of paying the workers directly, the cash will be invested in money-market instruments which will presumably yield a return down the line, an offer flatly rejected by government workers.
The three options, Mupfumira said, were due to be discussed in a February 20, meeting.
But Chere said: “We have been following with disdain and utter disgust the zeal being shown by government officials when it comes to fundraising for . . . (President Robert) Mugabe’s (93rd) birthday (party). If the same zeal had be shown for the bonus cause, the employer would have paid us our bonus last year when it was due.”
“A father who splashes millions on a birthday celebration while his children are being turned away from school for failing to pay fees ceases to be a father and must never be treated like one. We have been forced to lose the little respect we still held for the president who is showing a blatant disregard of our welfare.”
He said civil servants’ commitment to duty was indisputable.
“The Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council (Zimsec) recently boasted of improved pass rates in both ‘O’ Level and ‘A’ Level examinations. This is clear testimony that teachers are giving their all to their profession. We deserve to be paid a decent salary in time, but we are not demanding a salary increase, just a token of appreciation of our work,” Chere said.