THE introduction of incentives for teachers was a “serious miscalculation” by Education, Sport, Arts and Culture Minister,
David Coltart, teachers’ unions have said.
Unions officials yesterday said the incentives were not a Public Service Commission policy, but came as a result of Minister Coltart’s “insistence”.
This comes as teachers in some parts of the country are striking against school authorities’ decision to slash incentives paid by parents.
The unions were against the payment of the incentives from the start, arguing that the long term solution was to increase salaries and improve conditions of service.
In Harare, teachers at Rugare Primary School went on strike on Wednesday after authorities slashed the incentives by US$30.
Teachers at Prince Edward High School also downed tools last Friday protesting against, among other things, a decision to reduce their incentives from US$300 to about US$50.
Senior officials in the Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture said Minister Coltart, who had been promised funding by donors, was now bearing the fruits of his “flawed policy”.
Zimbabwe Teachers Association of Zimbabwe chief executive, Mr Sifiso Ndlovu, said Minister Coltart’s policy was “the worst” since independence.
He said the policy was “poorly crafted” in terms of sustainability.
“It’s the Minister who came up with his own policy not the employer (PSC),” he said.
“But this worst policy to ever exist in our country has caused disorder in the education sector.
“It was a divisional tactic, whereby they knew teachers would never speak with one voice on the issue of salaries, but it is now backfiring on him.
“In his process of arresting labour discontentment, the minister has shot himself in the foot.
“He has shifted the employment responsibility to parents, a situation which has never happened in this country.”
Mr Ndlovu said the problem would be solved if Government standardised condition of service for workers.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe secretary general, Mr Raymond Majongwe, said Minister Coltart’s miscalculation was “plunging” the education sector into crisis.
“This was a lack of a political tact by him (Minister Coltart) and the chickens have come to roost as a result of flawed planning,” he said.
“We told him from the beginning that it would be a disaster.
“Even when Zanu-PF was struggling economically, it did not come up with such disastrous policies.”
Mr Majongwe said Minister Coltart should call for an all stakeholders meeting as schools were now “war zones” because of the issue of incentives.
Teachers Union of Zimbabwe chief executive, Mr Manuel Nyawo, said Minister Coltart had brought “mayhem” to the education sector.
“This policy is problematic because it does not apply to all teachers,” he said.
“It is now difficult to stop the incentives and the minister, being the master planner, should be able to deal with that.
“But as far as we are concerned there, is no exit strategy for the minister.”
Senior officials in Minister Coltart’s office said the donor funding he had been promised failed to materialise.
“He thought it would be for a short time since he, together with his party, had been promised a lot of cash, but nothing came forward,” said one official.
“Now, he is failing to find solutions to problems he created.”
Efforts to get a comment from Minister Coltart were fruitless as he was away in Namibia.
But he is on record recently defending the payment of incentives, saying scrapping them would cause chaos.
He said the incentives should be removed after teachers’ salaries were improved.
Government increased salaries and allowances for its workers in July this year, resulting in teachers earning an average of US$300.
But it has been difficult for Minister Coltart to effect the scrapping of the incentives after the salary increment.
Instead, disputes between teachers and school authorities have erupted at most schools in Harare and Bulawayo once a notice is circu- lated that the incentives would be slashed.