The post-Cabinet briefing yesterday exposed government’s insincerity towards resolving the salary crisis. On 5 October 2020 Minister Mavhima promised to table teachers’ grievances to Cabinet and the Office of the President. No concrete feedback was given post the Cabinet meeting. Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Cain Mathema, was dozing and referred questions to absent Mavhima. It is now apparent that government is pretending to be engaged in intra government negotiations, in reality they are ignoring our plight at the detriment of the livelihoods of our families and the education of the nation. It is time we escalate the struggle.
 
We salute the resolute teachers who have remained at home regardless of threats from both formal government institutions and overzealous ruling party supporters. These threats will not capacitate teachers and as such we will not be able to report for duty until the salary crisis is resolved. We warn those threatening teachers to stop such conduct forthwith or face both criminal charges and civil lawsuits.
 
We note that the government does not care much about Zimbabwe’s public education. They are prepared to let it collapse as they did with healthcare. Families of government officials are not beneficiaries of our collapsing public services, they are enjoying exotic education and healthcare in foreign lands. It is incumbent upon us the affected poor majority to escalate the fight of protecting our public services.
 
To that end, we declare that there will be no rest for this government until they resolve the crisis in our education sector. Our demands are simple, justifiable and legitimate. We demand the restoration of the value of our salaries which was illegally eroded through dubious currency reforms in line with Mthuli Ncube’s anti poor austerity measures. Secondly, we demand the institution of safety measures in our schools in line with government’s COVID19 regulations. It will not be business as usual when government consistently declares budgetary surplus when our families are starving and our social services are collapsing.
 
We are receiving news that some parents are now offering to pay teachers’ salaries. This arrangement is unacceptable as it widens the gap of access to education. ARTUZ will not endorse toxic policies which discriminate against the poor majority. Our struggle is for pro-poor education. Parents contribute to the provision of education through multiple tax contributions. Those who volunteer for double taxation are not doing our nation any good, they are crippling our collective struggle for inclusive access to social services. We urge parents, SDCs and responsible authorities to shun this divisive culture.
 
We are relieved to learn that our learners have decided to take to the streets to demand their right to education. We urge learners to unite and defend their own future.
 
Sister unions have taken a historical, principled stance on schools opening. We have carved a united fighting front never witnessed before. We will be escalating our struggle both from this united front and at individual union level.
 
Government is once again encouraged to play ball. We don’t have any intentions to take to the streets but poverty and collapse of social services will force us into the streets.
 
Cdes, let’s remain steadfast. Victory is coming.
 
Source: Obert Masaraure, Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ)