GOVERNMENT has ordered teachers to invigilate the ongoing Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council (Zimsec) examinations or face penalties for failure to comply with the lawful order.

Some teachers unions called on their members to boycott invigilating the examinations after a deadlock over payment of invigilation allowances.

Zimsec said the obligation to pay invigilators fell under the Public Service Commission (PSC).

The PSC on Tuesday said invigilation was part of teachers’ duties in line with their employment contracts.

In a memorandum dated November 30, 2021, Primary and Secondary Education ministry chief director (human resources) Learnson Tagara said teachers who failed to invigilate Zimsec examinations would face the consequences.

This was after PSC chairperson Jonathan Wutawashe wrote to ministry secretary Tumisang Thabela ordering her to inform teachers that they were obliged to participate in line with their employment contracts

“Please refer to the attached minutes from the PSC dated November 25, 2021 and the approved job description for the post of a teacher,” Tagara wrote.

“According to the attached job description, invigilation is part of the duties of a teacher under making and administration of examinations. In view of the above, provincial education directors should remind their structures of these duties and sensitise teachers of the consequences of refusing to take part in the administration of examinations.”

But teachers unions accused the PSC of doctoring the minutes to dodge paying them for their services.

“That memorandum was not part of the contract teachers signed up for. We just saw a copy dated November 25, 2021,” Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Obert Masaraure said.

“Rules don’t apply in retrospect. We have done due diligence, including engaging those who are in the Education ministry human resource department, the minutes were non-existent in the past. It, therefore, does not apply to us, but to those who will agree to sign up for it.”

Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general Raymond Majongwe said the order for teachers to invigilate for free was unacceptable.

“If that is allowed, then teachers will be ordered to dig wells, cut grass or clean toilets as part of their duties,” he said.

“This is an unfair labour practice and an unnecessary onslaught on teachers. Government just wants to abdicate the responsibility of paying for the invigilation of examinations.”

Primary and Education ministry spokesperson Taungana Ndoro said teachers who refused to invigilate would be charged with breaching their employment contracts.

“Any breach of contract gives rise to a right in the hands of the innocent party to recover the damage suffered caused by the breach of contract by the defaulting party,” he said.

“Those damages can come in different forms such as rescission and/or restitution. Damages are normally classified as being compensatory or punitive. In this case, punitive damages may be given because the wrongdoer would have acted wilfully, maliciously or fraudulently.”