Zimbabwean government threatens to replace striking teachers with redundant ones

Map of Zimbabwe
Schoolchildren wait to enter their school in Harare, Zimbabwe, Monday Sept. 28, 2020. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

The Zimbabwean government says that it has put around 10,000 qualified but unemployed teachers on standby to replace striking teachers who have withdrawn their labor since schools re-opened for examination classes on Monday.

Primary and Secondary Education Minister Ambassador Cain Mathema said measures have been put in place to employ the bulk of qualified, but jobless, teachers, The Herald newspaper reported on Wednesday.

According to the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, more than 60 percent of teachers at government schools did not report for duty when the schools re-opened, citing incapacitation caused by inadequate remuneration.

Teachers are demanding at least 540 U.S. dollars per month (or its equivalent in local currency) for them to return to their stations.

Mathema said the government would not allow a situation where pupils who had lost precious time during the COVID-19 lockdown continued to be disenfranchised.

“Negotiations between the government and its workers are ongoing and we hope that they will soon find common ground to improve the lives of civil servants.

“Some teachers might want to hold the government to ransom by not reporting for duty waiting for the completion of these negotiations,” the minister said.

“What we are saying is that learners have not been going to school since March and the government will not allow a situation where they continue to be disadvantaged.

“We have at least 10,000 teachers who are unemployed and if the crunch comes, we will be left with no option but to quickly employ some of those teachers,” Mathema said.

“Schooling has to go on and we will employ if there is need to,” the minister said.