Obert Masaraure, the president of the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ), on Friday, filed an urgent chamber application at the High Court, challenging the suspension of striking teachers by Primary and Secondary Education Minister Evelyn Ndlovu.
Masaraure argued that Ndlovu had no authority to suspend striking teachers as that was the mandate of the Public Service Commission (PSC). He said:
There is no provision giving the respondent such powers as she purports to exercise or suspend all officials within its ministry unilaterally.
The provision is clear as to what happens and who should give effect to a suspension notice.
For example, senior grade members, who are part of the applicant, are prejudiced in having to be suspended by an order of the minister when in fact; the law provides for them a different disciplinary authority.
The Press statement of the respondent is, therefore, manifestly illegal and ought to be set aside.
Masaraure, through his lawyer from the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, added:
Although section 65 of the regulations provide for a departure from the provisions above, it is only the commission that can so authorise such departure or undertake such departure and not the Respondent of her own volition.
Further, such departure is put to a test of whether or not it will result in a substantial miscarriage of justice for it to pass as a valid departure.
There is no doubt that there will be a serious miscarriage of justice when tens of thousands of teachers are suspended without following proper procedures with just one blanketed notice on such a wide scale.
Late on Thursday, Ndlovu said striking teachers have been suspended due to their refusal to resume work despite the government’s offer to give them a 20 per cent salary increase and other non-monetary benefits.