Teachers’ Union of Malawi (TUM) secretary general Azeez Lisa and vice co-chairperson Alinafe Banda are leading a group of concerned teachers who have asked for the immediate resignation of TUM vice president Rehema Harid and other five executive members for announcing that teachers’ strike has been suspended following talks it had with the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19.
Harid and his colleagues announced at a news conference in Lilongwe this week that the strike staged by the teachers was suspended after negotiations with government.
But Losa’s group has distanced itself from Harid’s announcement , saying it is only TUM president Willie Malimba who can tell teachers to resume work.
Losa has threatened in a statement dated 24 February 2021 that f the executive members do not resign, teachers will conduct national wide demonstrations and close TUM offices. They will also hold vigil at the homes of the executive members whom they say have disgraced and betrayed all other teachers by making an announcement to suspend the stay away.
According to the statement, those demanded to resign include Harid himself, Ernest Chirwa (TUM Treasurer General), Elestina Chizungu (Secondary representative), David Kalirani (Special Needs Education representative) ,Elton Chauluka (Vice Treasurer General ) and Newton Chafukira (Central West Education Division Governor).
“We believe that these people who betrayed teachers will resign today because they have failed us,” reads the statement signed by Lossa and Banda.
The statement is also backed by Emily Lirani, central region representative; Evance Mpanda, southern region representative; Fyness Kumwenda, northern region representative and Oscar M’banga eastern region representative.
“We concerned teachers of Malawi would like to distance ourselves from the so called concerned teachers who had a press briefing in Lilongwe on 23rd February , 2021. We don’t know them and we are not happy with what they did,” reads the statement.
The teachers have vowed not to report to work until government pays attention to their demand. The teachers are demanding risk allowance in the wake of Covid-19.
TUM president Malimba insisted in an interview that the strike was still on, saying the group had not resolved the matter.
“I didn’t endorse the cancellation of the strike. TUM constitution mandates only the president and secretary general to call for or call off a strike,” he said/
He admitted that the union leadership which also met President Lazarus Chakwera on the matter, is divided, adding the matter could have been resolved using proper procedures.
“We are being told that teachers don’t deserve risk allowances but should be the first to receive vaccines. What does that mean? People should wait for the President to sign such a statement,” said Malimba.
Minister of Education Agnes NyaLonje announced in Parliament on Wednesday that the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 had rejected the demands for teachers’ risk allowances, fearing giving in will open a pandora’s box of other civil servants demanding the same.
She added that the teachers will, however, be considered as a priority in the Covid-19 vaccine which the country will roll out in March targeting health workers first.
Meanwhile, the Malawi government says it has disbursed funds to all schools across the country for the procurement of PPEs and, according to the Education Minister, over 3,200 additional teachers have been recruited to ease the teacher to pupil ratio.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :