30 September 2020
That the teachers are incapacitated is now a fact that is indisputable. It has reverberated across all the ten provinces and escalating daily. The drivers of our incapacitation are known far and wide, viz, starvation wages, failure to implement sector specific allowances, lack of prioritisation of teachers and pupils’ health and safety, and therefore experimenting with lives of teachers and students.
To incapacitated teachers Our incapacitation struggle must continue unabated. There will be no retreat no surrender until victory always. All struggles need a high degree of discipline by participants and our members must stop going to school to log-in and go home. An incapacitated teacher can not report for work, neither can he/she log in. Let the statistics indicate the high levels of incapacitation that must surely prod officials into action. Neither should teachers write a group letter and send it to heads as indication of incapacitation. Union circulars written to members can be sent to school officials. Any form of intimidation should be reported to us first and we will accordingly advice you how to deal with it. Members must stop going to school and claim that they were intimidated. We don’t eat threats. We also urge some members to desist from entering into local deals to teach extra lessons. Our struggle is a national struggle that calls for excessive discipline and activism.
We urge all teachers to mobilise, recruit and activate other passive members to our incapacitation struggle. Our struggle must continue to gather momentum and soon reach a decisive moment when no teacher at best, or one teacher at worst, turns up at a school.
To School Heads You are teachers and also incapacitated. We salute many of you for your professional conduct during these hard times. However, there are some few heads who behave as if they are not incapacitated and own schools, and pride in threatening or harassing teachers and insulting unions. This is certainly unfortunate, as the incapacitation battle is our collective effort. This is not to claim that all teachers are saints but only to implore you to understand the plight of incapacitated teachers and thrive to continue to amplify the truth in your reportage and dialogue with district, province and national Ministry officials. This way we can build a veritable and credible education system based on reality rather fertile imagination of some Ministry officials.
To parents Be advised that teachers are incapacitated and are not turning up for work until further notice. Guide our students to do their work in the safety of your homes. There are no covid 19 abatement equipment in schools and it becomes dangerous to send your child to such institutions. Your child’s life is more important than anything else.
To our students We are fully committed to teach you but we are perturbed by the current school environment that is not suitable for effective learning and teaching. Once the operational environment is improved by government we will be ready to come to work and assist you. In the meantime the school is not the best place to be at and we encourage you to remain at home and revise all the work you covered at school. You can also continue to contact your teachers through the subject whatApp groups and class whatApp groups where possible.
To the Ministry Officials The best you could do is to advice cabinet of the hap-hazardous meddling and muddling that has ensued as a result of your poor planning and limited engagement. Hope you will also accurately convey to Cabinet and President of Zimbabwe that the situation in schools is not palatable and covid 19 abatement equipment is not available in more than 70% of schools in rural areas. We have also seen your phased school calendar with candidates having 60 days, second phase 40 days and third phase having 30 days and your vogue and warped planning that the term would end on 18 October. It still has to be seen how this would be implemented with incapacitated teachers and imaginable tasks. Hope you will also introduce phased fees in schools.
We want to remind the government that it has a responsibility of paying its workers a living wage. The unilateral reduction of teachers’ salaries from US$520-US$550 to US$35 was not only callous but also degrading and a monument of unfair labour practice. We reiterate our commitment to our work but have been economically disarticulated, marginalised, disoriented and disoperationalised by starvation wages given by government. To expect us to provide a service that our own children cannot access by virtue of our poverty and inability to pay exorbitant fees now ranging between $25000 and $60000 is to heap burning coals upon our heads. To pay us a salary that is less than that received by house maids (US$50) is to raise Satan in us. We have certainly not commanded the beast you have generated in us to act, but call upon gvt to treat us in a more humane and dignified manner as workers who have done so much with so little. A commandist approach has never worked in the education system but meaningful engagement logical disputation and clear presentation of facts. The duration of our incapacitation struggle will be determined by government’s ability to engage the leaders of the United Front of teacher unions. Any firefighting through moribund, obsolete and archaic Apex Council whose mandate has long expired, would not receive favourable response from our members. It is our hope that gvt would mellow down to a more constructive approach permeable to reason and facts rather than adopting an irresponsible and intransigent approach that does not resonate with the challenges at hand.
The voice of teachers is now the voice of anguish and the sooner government addresses their legitimate demands, the better. Indeed we are everything, yet we now count for nothing. Life is too short to spend it in misery. Until government finds a panacea to our legitimate demands our only way forward would be going forward with the incapacitation struggle.
Dr Takavafira M. Zhou (Ptuz President)