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Zimbabwe Govt Suspends Striking Teachers As Some Defiant Unions Reject 20% Pay Rise

FILE: Teachers hold banners during a protest against the high cost of living, in Zimbabwe's capital Harare on Nov. 9, 2018.

A government official says all teachers, who were boycotting classes demanding a pay raise of up to US$560 per month, have been suspended without pay.

In a statement, Education Minister Evelyn Ndlovu said, “The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education would like to inform the Nation and its valued stakeholders that all officials within the Ministry who absented themselves from duty since the official opening of schools on 7 February 2022 have been suspended without pay forthwith, for a period of three months. During this period of suspension, members are not to hinder or interfere with any investigation or evidence relating to the alleged misconduct.

“Appropriate action will be taken against members who abrogate their duties and responsibilities. The Ministry remains committed to the provision of quality, affordable, accessible, relevant, equitable, inclusive and wholesome education for all Zimbabweans.”

But Raymond Majongwe, secretary general of the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe, scoffed at Ndlovu’s announcement saying the minister has decided to shut down schools without consulting stakeholders.

In a tweet, Majongwe said, “135 000 of the 150 000 teachers have been suspended by gvt. We know only 10 % of the teaching force were turning up for duty. Effectively schools have closed again. Sad parents had paid huge amounts for fees.”

Constitutional law expert, Lovemore Madhuku, also criticized Ndlovu, noting that he has no right to suspend teachers.

“Teachers cannot be suspended from work by a Govt Minister: they are employed by the PSC (Public Service Commission). Even the PSC itself has no power whatsoever to effect a blanket and mass suspension. The purported suspensions are unacceptable. Govt must dialogue with teachers' unions and address issues.”

The government yesterday awarded teachers a 20% pay raise and promised to pay them an additional US$100 per month each, provide transport and houses and pay tuition for their children.

Some teachers’ unions rejected the offer, noting that it’s below the breadline.