Jaw, Jaw, Jaw

The Chronicle

Stephen Mpofu
A contentious discussion on a local radio station by heads of two rival families might no doubt have made a stranger from outer space believe that he/she had happened on two opposing families stranded in a desert with the leader of one of them preferring to negotiate the long way out and to the land of plenty, while the other leader resolved to blitz-krieg any obstacle on the way to reach the same land of plenty for those that he led.

Of course this discourse is about a discussion on a certain radio station the other day this week by two rival leaders of teachers’ unions in this country over pay which led to a strike by teachers last month and has not completely ended as some pupils are still being sent home for lack of instructors.

The union leaders and the radio station mentioned above, and which are the subject of this discourse, know themselves and so there is no need to specifically mention them.

(However, the union leaders need to seriously re-examine their relationship vis-à-vis the teachers who look to them to win bread for them and their families from their employer.)

Of course one rival union leader is sold to the idea of round table negotiations for his followers’ demands to be met while learners continue with their lessons.

But unfortunately, radicalism appears to have purveyed the area of the rival organisation for teachers with the gun or knife being held at the throat of the employer with the threat “meet-us-at-our demands-or-else…” as a sjambok held at the employer.

For instance, a claim was heard from one union leader to the effect that politicians had built schools on their farms where they charge a lot of money in fees while some teachers cannot afford to buy underwear with the little money they receive – the latter as though teachers must parade in order for learners to examine them to discover if they have underwear on.

Then there was an unverified claim by the same leader to the effect that there was a mass exodus of teachers from Zimbabwe to other countries in Southern Africa and overseas where allegedly better conditions of service exist.

Of course, the claims above are meant to project the employer, in this case the government of Zimbabwe, as being seriously unconcerned  about the plight of its workers in the teaching profession.

Yes, teachers like any other workers in Zimbabwe, as elsewhere in the world, deserve pay conducive to better performance and development of their country.

But be that as it may, negotiations, and not job walk outs, happens to be the proper route forward, especially in a country such as ours with an economy seriously fractured by illegal Western economic sanctions that continue to this day.

Yes, the leaders in this country have performed wonderfully over the years, putting Zimbabweans among the most educated people on the African continent.

But be that as it may, our leaders in various employment sectors should take cognisance of the fact that the external enemy will always pounce on a country where citizens appear to have cut-throat relationships with their government and so if workers in any sector in our country are perceived as having cut-throat relationships with their Government as is the case between some labour unions and the

Government today are just the right conditions for divisionism and destructive external enemies to pounce.

Now, with most European Union countries, minus Britain which has walked out of the EU bloc, saying they are doing away with the economic embargo imposed on Zimbabwe over the land reform programme in order to bring much needed investment to our country , it becomes absolutely important for Zimbabweans in every area to refrain from confrontational approaches in demanding what they think is due to them.

Negotiation, negotiation and negotiation is and MUST be the way forward in resolving any disputes in our country and so that, in the case in point with the government willing to negotiate with the teachers’ matters pertaining to the latter’s employment it becomes unnecessary and even unpatriotic for labour organisations to seek unorthodox short-cuts for the improvement of their welfare.

Now, if negotiation is the root to resolving conflictual situations such as wars where precious lives are lost, why should not jaw – call it round table negations – provide satisfactory answers in cases where workers demand their deserved better conditions of service?

Learners, as future leaders of our motherland deserve uninterrupted preparations for them to take our beloved country to a brave new futures in post, post modernity.

Article Source: The Chronicle

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