THE return of some ministers to their previous portfolios, termed ‘recycling’ in some circles, has been welcomed by players in the education, health as well as labour sectors.
Lazarus Dokora, who was formerly the deputy minister in the ministry of education, sport, arts and culture, has returned to the education portfolio as the substantive minister of the newly created Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education. The minister of Health and Child Care, David Parirenyatwa does not need any introduction to the health ministry as he headed it before. Similarly Nicholas Goche returns to a ministry he once headed, that of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare.
Some key players in these ministries have viewed this development as positive and are gearing to engage with the ministers.
“We welcome Minister Dokora. We are happy that he has the experience and the wisdom needed for this portfolio since he was already in the ministry as deputy minister.
“He is familiar with the ministry’s policies and challenges,” said Richard Gundane, president of the Zimbabwe Teachers Association (ZIMTA).
Gundane said the main advantage with someone who already knew the issues and policies was that “we won’t have to re-explain what we have already talked about”.
“There is really no time to waste, it is now time for implementation,” Gundane said.
The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) is also positive about the return of the minister but said they would engage with caution.
“We will engage him (Minister Dokora) honourably, humbly but not cowardly,” said PTUZ secretary general Raymond Majongwe.
“We are looking forward to engaging with him, but we are not going to allow him to do what he wants,” Majongwe said. “We will allow him to first be a minister, then to assess the situation and decide how he is going to proceed. Once we have seen that he is playing ball, wel have no problems with him.”
Both ZIMTA and PTUZ agree on the priority issues to be addressed by the minister of Primary and Secondary Education.
These include teachers’ salaries and working conditions, security of teachers; housing for both rural and urban teachers; curriculum issues and school infrastructure and school provisions in terms of tools of the trade, among others.
“We need all these things addressed so we can professionalise the teaching profession.
“However, the best place to start would be to bring teachers’ salaries to above the poverty datum line,” Gundane said.
The poverty datum line is currently around US$600 and the least paid teacher earns US$250 per month.
Majongwe and Gundane both said they also welcomed the return of Goche.
“We welcome Minister Goche because when we worked with him previously he was one of the few level headed ministers back then. A very big difference from the MDC rabid ministers who thought they knew everything but knew nothing,” Majongwe said.
The two associations look forward to Goche dealing with, among other issues, collective bargaining and its statutory instruments and harmonisation of labour laws.
“We look forward to engaging him so that we can address once and for all the perennial challenges we have been facing,’ Majongwe said.
The Association of Health Funders of Zimbabwe (AHFoZ) has also expressed optimism at the return of their minister.
“AHFoZ is optimistic about the Cabinet appointments. Both the Minister and his deputy (Paul Chimedza) have wide experience in both public and private health sectors and we appreciate the importance of the complementarity of the two sectors,” said Shylet Sanyanga, AHFoZ chief executive.
Sanyanga said she did not foresee any problems in engaging as, “we have worked with Dr Parirenyatwa previously, and given our understanding of the minister and his deputy, we believe they are capable of tackling any issues. Having been a minister of health before, we are confident that Dr Parirenyatwa will be able to grasp the issues fast.”
Sanyanga outlined cost of healthcare and its impact on access as well as sustainability of the industry; re-vitalisation of the public sector; a conducive environment that promotes sustainable public-private – partnerships as priorities for the health industry.
“As a matter of urgency, we would like the minister to conclude the issue of tariffs for the benefit of members,” Sanyanga said.
While experience and familiarity with the key industry issues and policies have largely been the reasons why ‘recycling’ of ministers has been welcomed, Majongwe, however, said it was not like players had a choice.
“As far as we are concerned, we must accept the political realities of the country. Whether we criticize the government or not, we must realise and accept that these are people we are going to work with. If we work helter skelter with them it will not help us,” Majongwe said.
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