Find solutions not sympathy -teachers tell Mugabe

HARARE – President Robert Mugabe has been challenged to stop sympathising with government workers in public and at political functions, but attend to their needs.

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Progressive Teacher’s Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) secretary-general Raymond Majongwe said while it was good for the president to publicly sympathise with the plight of government workers, he must as well understand that they have suffered enough and he must deliver.

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“I hope the president is not asking us to be patient with his government’s misplaced priorities until Jesus Christ comes. We have been patient with his government for more than 10-years but now he wants more time, asking us to be patient because he has failed to fulfil his promises,” said Majongwe.

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“This government has resources but it is failing to deliver. It is misplacing its resources by buying unnecessary vehicles. It is spending money on extravagant issues such as buying top of the range cars for its ministers and chiefs. What for? Every year government is splashing money on ministers yet its workers are wallowing in poverty.”

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The firebrand trade unionist’s comments were a response to President Mugabe’s statement made on arrival from holiday in the Far East as he addressed his Zanu PF party supporters.

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With government having trouble failing to raise funds to pay its workers and reeling under a cash squeeze, as well as an economic crisis that has refused to budge, state workers have threatened industrial action.

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But Majongwe said the ruling party must stop taking their patience for granted and “respect us because we are patriotic.’

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“We remained in the country when everyone was going outside looking for greener pastures. The problem with being patient is that there are some among us who are growing old and nearing retirement but have not benefited anything from this regime. It is now or never, and (President) Mugabe must know that we are human as well,” Majongwe added.

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College Lecturers Union of Zimbabwe head David Dzatsunga said although he understood that government was financially crippled; the welfare of its workers must not be sacrificed.

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“What is painful is that while this government claims to be financially bankrupt, it is spending more on itself and sacrificing the workers,” he said. “We are not asking for too much from the employer, but just what is due to us and receiving our salaries at the appropriate time. It is not our duty to know where the employer will get the money from, but we are supposed to deliver.”

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“After doing our duty, we expect the employer to do the same and pay. This is very simple, we are not asking too much from him but simple things like that. President Mugabe must stop corruption within his government and resources that must be distributed fairly among the citizens, and civil servants will definitely not trouble him,” he said.

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Sifiso Ndlovu, Zimbabwe Teacher’s Association chief executive officer, said they welcomed the president’s pronouncements but said the best channel that government should use is the social dialogue forum as opposed to political platforms.

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“Most statements made at rallies are meaningless until we talk about them at social dialogue forums and at the negotiating table. At the moment, we want the joint negotiating forum to be active so that we air our views as civil servants to reach an agreement with the employer,” Ndlovu said.

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Government, a few weeks ago, appointed Simon Masanga  to head the government delegation to the Tripartite Negotiating Forum at which business, labour and the state representatives came together to thrash out issues regarding wages and salaries.