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Zimbabwe Teachers' Union Urges Unvaccinated Members to Report to Work Despite Govt's Threat to Sack Them

Takafira Zhou, president of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe. (C. Mavhunga/VOA)
Takafira Zhou, president of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe. (C. Mavhunga/VOA)

The Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) says unvaccinated teachers should report to work tomorrow as it is unprocedural for them to heed “unsubstantiated utterances” by some government officials that those who have not received COVID-19 vaccines will be barred from their workplaces on Monday.

In a statement, PTUZ president Takavafira Zhou said, “We have read in the press and from unsubstantiated utterances by government officials that non vaccinated civil servants must stop reporting for work forthwith. As PTUZ we encourage teachers to be vaccinated but by no means should such encouragement be misconstrued for mandatory vaccination, but voluntary vaccination. The quandary over the issue of vaccination is that there was never an engagement between government as employer and civil servants representatives (employees), particularly teacher unions. The order is therefore a unilateral declaration by government.

“We however advice teachers that it is unprocedural for them to stop going to work on the basis of generic communication that has no specific names. In terms of standard operational procedures unvaccinated teachers must continue to report for work until they receive communiques specifically in their names informing them to stop coming for work. Verbal instructions from school heads are invalid.”

Zhou said school heads should compile lists of all unvaccinated teachers at their respective schools, and indicate reasons for non vaccination and send to districts for onward conveyance to province, Head Office and the Public Service Commission (PSC) and wait for formal instructions from these respectable offices.

“Verbal instructions are legally void in the public service and we hope there would be written communiques to teachers in the respective schools taking cognisant of reasons proffered for non-vaccination.

“It is our hope that the issue of non-vaccination would not be used to settle old scores in schools. Every case must be determined on its merit and we encourage administrators, education officials and PSC to navigate this quandary in a professional manner, never mind it's one-armed banditry origin.”

The deadline for civil servants to get vaccinated lapsed last Friday with indications that the government would terminate contracts of those that have not been vaccinated.

The PSC says starting Monday the government will be monitoring attendance registers and all those people who are not at work won’t be paid.

Public Service Minister Paul Mavima told the state-controlled Herald newspaper that “those that do not want to be vaccinated cannot continue working for the government and I want to believe the number is very small.”

It’s not clear how many civil servants have not yet been vaccinated amid reports that some have not done so due to religious beliefs and other issues.

Mavima said civil servants with genuine reasons for not being vaccinated will be given time to get jabbed.

Health Ministry secretary, Jasper Chimedza, told the same newspaper that unvaccinated civil servants would be sacked as per some provisions of Statutory Instrument 234 of 2021.