- Zanu-PF MP Joseph Chinotimba yesterday clashed with independent Norton legislator Temba Mliswa when he said teachers are being paid by the biggest opposition party to stay home and make the country ungovernable.
By Admire Chengeta
ZANU-PF legislator Joseph Chinotimba (Buhera South) yesterday said Government teachers are being well paid but have been refusing to go back to schools because they are on opposition MDC-A payroll, a statement which caused a fight with Norton legislator Temba Mliswa (Independent).
Only a tiny fraction of public teachers have been attending to their workstations since schools opened on 26th September, citing incapacitation as their fight with Government for better working conditions continues to affect pupils.
Speaking on a point of privilege, Chinotimba accused teachers of no longer being on labour action but of engaging in opposition politics to tarnish President Mnangagwa’s Government and make him fail to govern. He said they were being paid well but are being unreasonable in their demands of US $520 per month salary from the current pay.
“In my opinion teachers are no longer on strike but are on an opposition mission. The opposition mission that I want to mention is that MDC is not the only opposition.
“Teachers, in my opinion, are on the payroll of the opposition. Our children are not going to school. If they go to school they are not learning anything,” said Chinotimba.
The statement drew heated reaction from the opposition bench, with Settlement Chikwinya (MDC-A, Mbizo) saying the issue of teachers strike was already debated last week when Chinotimba was engaging in personal drama at the VID depot in Belvedere.
Chinotimba last week caught his wife red-handed with a married man near the VID depot.
“Takataura nyaya iyi ikapera. Anga ari ku VID,” said Chikwinya.
Chinotimba was not put down. “Iwewe wataura zvema sanctions wani. The Government has done its best to try and address the grievances of teachers but it seems like they want to continue with the strike.
“The teachers are being paid by one of the biggest opposition parties in Zimbabwe to make this nation ungovernable,” said Chinotimba.
Mliswa reacted angrily to Chinotimba, saying teachers had a genuine grievance and demanded that Chinotimba be forced to withdraw his statement.
“Nyaya yataurwa naHon Chinotimba kuti ma teacher anobhadharwa ne opposition… We cannot say that about them. It is wrong for this Parliament to be seen to be accusing teachers. It goes on Parliament record. He must withdraw that statement,” Mliswa demanded.
“He cannot say ma teacher ari papayroll ye opposition. My own teachers in my constituency in Norton are not on any opposition payroll and I am here to represent them to say they are not.
“Hon Chinotimba must withdraw that statement because if it goes in the public that this Parliament said teachers are on a payroll it is wrong. Which teachers are on a payroll?
“I therefore implore Hon. Chinotimba to remove that aspect to say teachers with a blanket statement are on a payroll for opposition. This is Parliament which represents everyone,” said Mliswa.
Parliament deputy Speaker Tsitsi Gezi failed to make Chinotimba withdraw his statement, but urged him to present it as a question to the relevant Minister during Wednesday’s Parliament sitting.
Public Service Commission Secretary Ambassador Jonathan Wutawunashe recently urged the striking teachers to go back to work as wage negotiations are underway under the National Joint Negotiating Council.
“The negotiations will not be for teachers only but the whole civil service sector. Other civil servants are going to work, so it is important for teachers’ unions to tell their members to be at work until finalization of the negotiations,” Wutawunashe said.
Government then announced Sunday that it will fill staffing gaps at public schools by recruiting new teachers while intensifying daily assessments of teacher attendance.
Communication and advocacy director at the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education Taungana Ndoro said the government will assess staffing gaps and determine areas where additional educators are needed to cover the vacancies left by those not reporting for duty.
Government has also ignored a recent plea by the country’s leading teachers’ unions to meet President Mnangagwa with their grievances. – Zimbabwe Voice ■