BY BRENNA MATENDERE/HARRIET CHIKANDIWA
LABOUR minister Paul Mavima was on Wednesday grilled by MPs over continued recruitment of State security agents at a time the country is not at war, thus raising fears that government might be preparing to quash dissenting voices.
The thorny issue was discussed during the question-and-answer session in the National Assembly, with Kadoma Central MP Muchineripi Chinyanganya (MDC Alliance) taking Mavima to task over the recruitment of more security agents at a time other civil service posts were frozen.
“My question is directed to the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare. What is government policy on the recruitment of critical staff such as medical personnel vis-a-vis those in the police force and the defence forces? I thank you?” the Kadoma MP asked.
At first, Mavima tried to evade the question, saying it should be directed to a different ministry.
“That question should be directed differently. The ministry that I superintend over deals with issues of civil servants. The remuneration of the security forces falls under commissions that are not under my ministry. So that is a question that I am not able to answer,” he said.
However, Chinyanganya could not be deterred and he further asked Mavima to explain the freeze of critical nursing and teaching posts.
“When it comes to the police and army, the recruitment timetable never ceases and there is money to pay the new recruits, yet there is no money to pay new teachers and nurses although we are at peace in this country,” the MP said.
Mavima also tried to downplay the issue of prioritising the State security sector.
“Hon Speaker, I think just today in this House, the Hon Minister of Primary and Secondary Education was indicating that they just recruited 5 300 teachers and they have plans to recruit more teachers, especially given the need for social distancing in schools. This is a matter that has been discussed in the COVID-19 taskforce and it is a matter that even His Excellency has indicated should be dealt with in terms of recruitment of teachers. Like I said, I cannot do the comparisons because the other sectors he is referring to are not under my purview,” Mavima said.
On the salary impasse with teachers, Mavima said negotiations were still ongoing with the Apex Council.
“They should give negotiations a chance while they are attending to their duties,” Mavima said.