Apex Council threatens crippling strike

HARARE - Apex Council, the civil servants representative body, is scheduled to meet with teachers’ unions and Public Service minister on Monday to discuss the plight of Zimbabwean teachers, an Apex official has said.

Speaking at International Teachers’ Day celebrations in the capital yesterday, David Dzatsunga, newly appointed president of the Apex Council said the Public Service minister Lucia Matibenga has misled the public by claiming the civil servants’ body is fragmented and has jumbled priorities.

“We are going to meet on Monday to clarify to the minister and let her know that she should release
appropriate information to the public,” Dzatsunga said.

“We as the representative board have the same purpose, the minister needs to come out clean and say the reason she is not addressing us is there is no money.”

Dzatsunga, who is also president of College Lecturers Association, said Matibenga was using Apex disunity as a scapegoat to avoid the real issue at hand, which is the plea by the teachers for improved working conditions and “capitalising on non-existent divisions”.

The plight of the teachers has been aggravated by the spilt in the Apex Council, which is now divided into two factions one headed by Dzatsunga, and the other by Cecilia Alexander.

Alexander leads the Public Service Association represents most government workers not in the education sector.

Matibenga has been quoted in the press saying that there will be no salary negotiations with them as government is not prepared to deal with a fragmented body.

Negotiations for bonuses and salary increments for civil servants have been stopped after government ordered the worker representative unions Apex Council to first resolve leadership squabbles currently rocking the body.

Teachers earn an average salary of about $300, resulting in the trade unions advocating that School Development Associations (SDAs) should top up teachers’ salaries.

Their salaries fall below the poverty datum line pegged at $500.

“We have never had power problems in Apex, both parties have failed us as they are using power to fight us, we need to clarify our position so the public knows,” he said.

Speaking at the same function, Raymond Majongwe Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) secretary general, said GNU parties were using political expediency at the expense of the suffering teachers.

Munyaradzi Gwisai, an activist, promised a mother of all strikes against the “united looters club” as he calls the GNU, if their demands were not met.

He said the reason teachers had not organised a successful demonstration or strike in the recent past is they have been under the illusion that Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was going to do something to address their plight as he promised in his inauguration speech at the Glamis Stadium.

He urged parents to revoke incentives they are paying through SDAs to teachers, to ensure the success of the upcoming strike.

Gwisai said government must come out of their comfort zone, saying the clause in the draft constitution that states civil servants are not to be politically active is going to be ignored.

“Fundamentally the constitution states civil servants cannot be politically active. Here is some news to our leaders: You have lost our vote and we are about to take over the reins,” Gwisai declared.

“Hatidye kuparty, today living wage (The party will not feed us, but our wages do), so we do not care about their parties, we are concerned about our salaries.”

To Zanu PF, the teachers said their tactic of awarding increment towards election time was not going to work as they are fed up of the parties.

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