Harare - Zimbabwean opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) led by Morgan Tsvangirai, has condemned the decision by the southern African nation's government to order teachers who are on leave to return to work.
In a statement, MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu said that President Robert Mugabe's government had no respect for the country's civil servants, in particular, the teachers.
The state-controlled Herald newspaper reported on Thursday that the country's education department had given an instruction that all teachers on leave report for duty "immediately". No reason was given for the directive.
The report revealed that officials from the Public Service Commission would be visiting schools to ensure that all the teachers were back at work.
The country's teachers union, the Zimbabwe Teachers Association, slammed the move as a "violation of leave conditions", adding that it would be approaching the courts for redress on the issue
Schools in Zimbabwe reopened about two weeks ago after the festive season.
Gutu said teachers were like other civil servants who were entitled to their leave as per the country’s labour statutes concerning terms and conditions of employment.
"…It should be understood that teachers, like any other group of workers in the civil service, are entitled to go on leave as part of their terms and conditions of employment. Thus, going on leave is not a privilege, but a legitimate and lawful right for all civil servants, including teachers," Gutu said.
Statistics indicate that Zimbabwe spends at least 90% of its annual revenue on paying government workers, which leaves the country's treasury purse dry.
Zimbabwean riot police unleashed brutal force against teachers in Harare early this month, after they protested against delayed payment of government workers.