THE government has embarked on a witch-hunt to sniff out organisers of a teachers strike that nearly disrupted national examinations in October last year.
The Public Service Commission (PSC) has in the last two weeks been summoning hundreds of teachers to appear before a committee at Mhlahlandlela government complex in Bulawayo to explain their role in the “illegal” strike.
The majority of the teachers who have appeared before the probe committee, chaired by the Matabeleland education director, Dan Moyo, have not received their salaries for the past three months for allegedly taking part in the strike.
According to sources, over 200 teachers have appeared before the probe team.
Moyo refused to shed light on the matter and referred questions to PSC chairman Mariyawanda Nzuwa, who could not be reached for comment.
About 800 teachers in Matabeleland had their salaries suspended on allegations that they took part in an illegal strike called in October last year to press for an 800% salary hike.
The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) has described the latest action by the government as a vindictive witch-hunt.
“The Ministry of Education should stop the witch-hunt and punishing people unnecessarily because the interrogations they are holding are illegal. The exercise the teachers undertook was a legal channel that was conducted nationwide,” said PTUZ secretary-general Raymond Majongwe.
He said the PSC and the Ministry of Education had not come out in the open on the matter and said initially names of teachers who allegedly participated in the strike were compiled by the President’s Office.
Majongwe said it was puzzling why Matabeleland teachers alone were being targeted when teachers went on strike nationwide.
The affected teachers have not been paid their salaries for three months.
“This whole exercise smacks of tribal politics. The strike was nationwide and it is shocking why only Matabeleland is a target. The teachers should just attend the kangaroo sessions they are summoned to and we will take action from there,” Majongwe said.
A teacher who appeared before the probe team told the Zimbabwe Independent this week that the interrogators were interested in finding out the ringleaders of the strike in Bulawayo.
“It appears that those who will provide names of ringleaders will be re-instated on the government payroll and some innocent teachers are going to be victimised,” said the teacher, speaking on condition that he was not named.