BY SILAS NKALA
Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Nokuthula Moyo on Wednesday postponed, on a technicality, the case in which a nine-year-old pupil is seeking to stop teachers from engaging in industrial action over salaries.
The minor, Amuhelang Ulukile Dube, who is being represented by her grandmother Senzeni Nyathi through her lawyers, Ndove and Associates, filed an urgent chamber application at the Bulawayo High Court last month seeking an order barring teachers at public schools from striking over poor salaries and working conditions.
Dube is a pupil at Mafuko Primary School in Gwanda, Matabeleland South province.
The minor cited the Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association (Zimta), Zimbabwe Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions, Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) and Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe as respondents.
Public Service Commission chairperson Vincent Hungwe, Primary and Secondary Education minister Cain Mathema, Paul Mavima (Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare minister and Finance minister Mthuli Ncube were also cited as respondents in the matter.
However, teachers unions raised 17 technical issues when they appeared before the Bulawayo High Court, chief among them, that some respondents were now either properly served or not served at all.
It emerged that the papers for Mathema were served at Mhlahlandlela government offices where he does not operate from.
Based on the technicalities, Justice Moyo postponed the case to September 17 to allow the respondents to be properly served. The pupil was directed to meet the cost for Wednesday’s hearing.
The application follows the recent threats by teachers not to resume work until their demands for better salaries are met.
Teachers are demanding to be paid US$550 or its equivalent in local currency a month.
In her founding affidavit, Nyathi said the actions of the cited teachers’ unions and their members to refuse to take up classes over salary grievances and improved working conditions coupled with the non-intervention of the government constitutes a violation of the children’s right to education as enshrined in sections 75 and 81 of the Constitution.
She wants the teachers’ unions together with their members interdicted from boycotting classes with all teachers being directed to report for duty within 48 hours of the granting of the order.
The applicant said in the event that the teachers refuse to comply, the government should be directed to take all measures to ensure that there is no interruption of classes.