Auxilia Katongomara Chronicle Reporter
THE government has ordered all teachers on leave to immediately return to work, a directive teachers unions say is illegal and would be challenged in court.
Provincial Education Directors (PEDS) who spoke to The Chronicle confirmed that all teachers must return to work, but could not provide reasons for the directive.
According to a circular delivered to all schools across the country, officials from the Public Service Commission will be visiting the schools to ensure that teachers comply with the order.
Matabeleland North Provincial Education Director Boithathelo Mnguni said: “I suspect it’s part of the cost cutting measures because the circular says all teachers on leave should come back.”
Bulawayo PED Dan Moyo said he had also seen the memo, but could not shed more light on the issue.
Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education secretary Sylvia Utete-Masango could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Zimta Chief executive officer Sifiso Ndlovu said the directive is a violation of leave conditions and the association was planning to approach the courts to seek redress. “We only saw the circular after hearing teachers talking about it beause the government never communicated with us regarding the issue. The reasons were not explained and as such we are only guessing,” said Ndlovu.
He said the circular came at a time when teachers were worried about getting their bonuses.
Teachers who spoke to The Chronicle said school heads told them about the Ministry’s directive last week. “The reasons were not explicitly stated but some are saying that the government wants to cut costs hence it has suspended engaging relief teachers,’’ said one teacher who cannot be named for professional reasons.
Other teachers speculated that the government was conducting a second head count and therefore wanted all teachers to be at their respective schools.
The circular seen by The Chronicle reads: “Urgent. Vacation leave has been cancelled. All heads are being directed to recall all teachers who had applied for vacation leave for Term One 2016.
Schools would be visited by the Public Service Commission Inspectorate soon to ensure that all such members have assumed duty. Therefore, all members who had gone on vacation leave are strongly advised to comply with the directive without fail.”