Teachers’ organisations speak on proposed Public Service Act amendments

By Tafadzwa Muranganwa

Following a report by a local daily that government is planning to amend the Public Service Act , teachers who apparently constitute the highest number of civil servants have  aired their views regarding the proposal.

It is reported that briefing  the media at a post cabinet meeting  on Tuesday, Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa said her Public service, Labour and Social Welfare counterpart, Sekai Nzenza said government had tabled a proposal to amend the current Public Services Act and align it with the Constitution.

“The amendment seeks to inter alia, align the condition of service for the civil service to the Constitution, provide staff of the Civil Service Commission and the establishment of the National Joint Negotiating Forum for negotiations before engaging in collective job action.

“The amendments also provide mechanism for the implementation of collective bargaining rights and provide for political neutrality of the civil service,” information minister Monica Mutsvangwa said.

Reacting to this proposed amendment  , Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe(ARTUZ)  president Obert Masaraure  said the amendment  of the Public Service Act should not stifle labour rights espoused in the constitution.

“The alignment of the Public service Act should be in the spirit of embracing the labour rights enshrined in Section 65 of the constitution,” suggested the ARTUZ president.

This was also echoed by  Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Dr Takavafira Zhou.

“Alignment of Public Service Act with the Constitution is brilliant.

“So a proper alignment of Public Service Regulations would ensure that we respect not only our constitution but also ILO Conventions 87  ,98 and 151,”cited the PTUZ boss.

The proposed amendments also seek to encourage political impartiality in the civil service and according to Dr Takavafira Zhou the move is welcome in improving professionalism in the civil service sector but hastened to say that there should be efforts to absolve the ruling party from government.

“That managers in the civil servants must not be appendages of a political party is encouraging.

However, it is also prudent that there be a difference between a ruling party and government because lack of  absence of such a difference that more often than note has led to lack of political neutrality among self centred managers well aware that parroting  ruling party propaganda would bring emoluments of promotion,” he added.

Teachers are the largest civil service workforce and   many teachers’ organisations have   voiced concern over political intimidation when the teachers demand their dues by conducting industrial action.

Other teachers unions leaders have been arraigned before courts on   what they claim ‘frivolous charges’ stemming from their stance on improved welfare of  teachers .ARTUZ president Obert Masaraure  is current facing a treason charge.