Third term opens as nation transits from fear to acceptance

The hullabaloo of the inconsequential routine rituals of elections is now over. The political elites find themselves on different polar ends, the citizens are petrified and are slowly accepting the new reality, realizing that they are not in control of the so called democratic processes. The majority of the poor still feel robbed of what they never had and would never had realized under whatever outcome, it is thus imperative for the working class to raise consciousness bar of the poor majority and lead them in the battle against exploitation. The teachers like other workers find themselves in a slave like reality, working in an unfulfilling environment. As schools open teachers will be forced to dose learners with a lifeless curriculum in return they will receive meals and accommodation not to mention threats of being fired if they fail to comply.

It will be naïve to try to solve all the fundamental problems of our society at one go, we will be practical and adopt a systematic approach, grab low hanging fruits as we get ladders to go to the top. Our Red Struggles will persist, focusing on immediate challenges and we are confident that one day we will confront the bedrock of our teething problems.

Red struggles victories to date

  • The Union salutes all partners and friends who walked shoulder to shoulder with us as we confronted injustice against both the teachers and the learners.
  • At the workplace we achieved a pay rise, although the pay remains paltry. We thank our FOZEU allies for their commitment to duty in that struggle.
  • The Union also boldly stood up against the stinking ZANU PF culture of abusing teachers, learners and school property in pursuit of private political interests. We thank Veritas for their support in the safe schools campaign.
  • We challenged ZEC’s tradition of disenfranchising civil servants of their right to vote. Although 40 000 failed to vote we are proud to have averted wholesale disenfranchisement born out of the polling station based voting model. We did well by following this up in the Constitutional court and in future we will be armed with better tactics. Thanks to Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, ZLHR for walking with us through this route.
  • Struggles 3 & 4 were important for us as we sought to play our civic role of pushing for the democratic transition of our country. Unions can only freely organize in a democratic dispensation. Thus the struggle for better working conditions is inseparable from the fight for democracy.

Third term context

  • Third term is likely going to be very busy as teachers prepare learners for the November exams, the first to be written under the new curriculum. The second term was cut short so the third term will also seek to compensate for lost learning time.
  • The economic challenges confronting our country will further erode teacher salaries by up to 100%. Teachers will further sink on the poverty index. Morale will reach a new low and learning will virtually stop in most schools.
  • Parents will fail to raise money for school fees and learning materials for their kids and thus turnout will be low in most schools.
  • The ruling party and state will likely go after teachers in retribution of their role in the 2018 election. Teachers are likely to face one form of victimization or the other.

Our immediate interventions

  • Teacher Security and safety is our priority, we will continue with our safe schools campaign through multiple advocacy strategies. We will be engaging our partners to set a rapid response team to attend to the security and safety needs of all teachers.
  • The Union will work with organizations working on Child Protection to ensure that no learner loses learning time because of failing to pay fees. We will further force education authorities to guarantee the right to education as espoused in section 75 of the constitution of Zimbabwe.
  • On teacher welfare we will be confronting the National Social Security Authority, NSSA to provide more social security to our members. The Authority is giving money to banks and is involved in a series of profit making initiatives but is failing to give basic services such as health and accommodation. Our research department is seized with coming up with models of affordable health care and housing that can be offered by NSSA. We note that PSMAS is shortchanging civil servants hence the need for an alternative model. The current packages being offered by NSSA are profit driven.
  • The battle for a review of both salary and rural allowance is still on the cards. We also be pushing the regarding of educators.

Organizing for future battles

At the end of third term, the Union will host its annual conference from 7-9 December in Manicaland. The conference will be held under the theme, “Consolidating our Red victories and redefining the teachers’ role in national discourse.”

The conference will attract representatives from all rural districts in Zimbabwe. Delegates will be expected to evaluate our work in 2018 and plan for the year 2019. We remain committed to our revolutionary duty of fighting for pro poor education.

We wish all stakeholders in the education sector a successful third term 2018.

Source: Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe

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