The bankrupt Zimbabwean government has terminated the contracts of thousands of temporary teachers in what an official said was a desperate move to bring down the bloated state wage bill.
Deputy public service and labour minister Tapiwa Matangaidze said all untrained teachers had been sent home to facilitate an official audit.
The move has worsened the shortage of teachers in the country, according to trade unions.
“As we stand right now, there are no positions for temporary teachers in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education,” Matangaidze said.
He claimed that temporary teachers were previously required to fill vacancies left by full-timers going on three months leave. The government has since abolished three months paid vacations for teachers.
“After the audit on the Civil Service, we did realise that there were a lot of temporary posts which were being taken up in the teaching fraternity,” Matangaidze said. “This was as a result that every time that a teacher goes on leave, a teacher goes on a three months leave. Unlike other positions in the public sector, where somebody goes for a month on leave and you do not necessarily have to get a replacement, in that Ministry you need to have a replacement. That now strains the fiscal space because every time a teacher goes on leave for three months, you now need to have somebody coming in to replace. The position we have taken now in the interim is to suspend all teachers going on the three months leave. So, the policy right now is, suspend all leave, see where the vacancies are, then revert back to the temporary teachers who are there if there are vacancies; once all teachers are on their posts.”
Experts said the move could expose the government to litigation both from teachers whose leave benefit has been withdrawn without notice and from the sacked temporary teachers.
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