By Staff Writer
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has blamed United Kingdom’s (UK) interference for catalysing the ongoing teachers’ strike which has rocked the nation since schools opened last week, Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions (ZFTU) has said.
Educators have since cited incapacitation owing to the low salaries they are earning which they say have since been overtaken by price increases.
But speaking soonafter the meeting with Mnangagwa, ZFTU secretary general, Kennias Shamuyarira said the president partly blamed UK’s interference in the country’s internal issues.
“He (Mnangagwa) aired his anger by citing last year’s incident in which a British Minister told the house commons representatives that he was working closely with teacher unions in Zimbabwe to effect the regime agenda,” he said.
Last year ,British government minister Tariq Mahmoud Ahmad alleged that some teachers’ unions in Zimbabwe were collaborating with Britain to remove the government.
“However, we shot down the matter on the pretext that we could not focus on debates transpiring in other nations,” Shamuyarira said.
The ZFTU leader said instead discussions were redirected to focus the ongoing teachers strike where Mnangagwa was urged to rein in his ministers to desist from the unilateral suspensions of striking teachers who carried out their actions in line with constitutionally mandated rights.
“We also told Mnangagwa that the Poverty Datum Line which is now hovering around $90 000 , is way far above the current salary thresholds which are pegged at $20 000.We emphasized to him the issue of Zim$ salaries across the board,” he said.
Shamuyarira said the President assured labour representatives that he was going to deal with lifting of the teachers’ suspension unconditionally through their respective teacher trade unions.
“Mnangagwa urged labour unions to exercise dialogue. He said that the government has all the power which labour unions do not have, hence using other methods outside dialogue will leave labour at the receiving end,” he said.
Quizzed on why labour federations appeared to have simply agreed to everything the government proposed , Shamuyarira said , “ We did not rubber stamp government’s offers. But we appreciated the spirit of dialogue exhibited by his excellency. So that stepping stone is a good starting point.”
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions representatives also attended the meeting but had not issued any official communique at the time of publishing.