There is no possibility that teachers can be paid the US$520 they are demanding, since doing so would reverse the economic gains seen so far, but the Government could afford a minimum teacher’s salary pay of $18 000 a month, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Professor Paul Mavima said yesterday.
Government has shown sincerity in dealing with conditions of service for civil servants after it unveiled a cocktail of incentives and allowances since the beginning of the year and teachers have to reciprocate by showing commitment to the country and learners by returning to work.
Prof Mavima was replying in the Senate to Midlands Senator Morgan Komichi (MDC) who asked what Government was doing to address grievances being raised by teachers, which has seen them withdrawing their labour on the basis of incapacitation.
In response, Prof Mavima chronicled what Government has done since January where 140 percent cost of living adjustment was awarded, followed by another 40 percent and the US$75 Covid-19 allowance that was unveiled in June and later extended to December among other incentives.
He said this week Government offered civil servants a further 20 percent increase and another 10 percent for teachers given the work they had to mobilise learners.
Prof Mavima said with the latest reviews, the lowest paid civil servant would earn around $15 000 while the least paid teacher would get around $18 000.
“I thought Government has shown sincerity to the teachers. They should return to work while we negotiate.
“They are insisting on US$520. Our country has reached currency and price stability, which has been a problem ever since,” said Prof Mavima. “There is no way we can pay US$520 or its equivalent without rocking the boat or without causing instability thereby reversing those gains. We now need committed teachers who are patriotic.”
Prof Mavima said the latest review would see the teachers earning above the Poverty Datum Line.
“They should understand that we are now on our way to economic recovery. Let us not shoot ourselves in the foot. As Senators, be the voice of reason and talk to them in your constituencies. No one has ever said conditions are okay.
“We are looking at all sides holistically. Acceding to such demands is inflationary and will upset the balance we had achieved,” said Prof Mavima.
Primary and Secondary Education secretary Mrs Tumisang Thabela this week ruled out the possibility of deferring writing of public examination this year despite limited attendance of teachers in some schools, saying doing so would disadvantage other pupils who were learning without disruptions, legislators heard.
Mrs Thabela said scrapping examinations would cripple higher and tertiary institutions as they would struggle to get first year students.
Mrs Thabela said this on Tuesday while giving oral evidence before Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Primary and Secondary Education.
The committee, chaired by Bulawayo Proportionate Representative Ms Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, wanted to know what the ministry was doing to ease the situation in most schools where some teachers have not been going to work citing incapacitation.
In her evidence she said her ministry was ready to commence public examinations and noted that while there was no maximum learning at some public schools, the situation was not the same with regard to Trust, boarding and independent schools.