National Action for Quality Education in Zambia (NAQEZ) executive director Aaron Chansa has urged teachers to plan for their future and build, instead of waiting to be evicted from a government house with nowhere to go.
But Chansa says it is inhumane for retirees to be evicted at 01:00 in the night saying it reflected badly on the teaching profession.
Last week, some of the 25 retired teachers at Kabulonga Secondary School in Lusaka complained that they were evicted in the night before government could pay them their retirement benefits.
This was before General Education Minister David Mabumba said all the retirees who had been evicted were already paid their benefits, and challenged who disputed this fact to produce documents so that the situation could be corrected.
In an interview with News Diggers! Monday, Chansa said much as it was inhumane for government to evict retired civil servants in the middle of the night, it was also an embarrassment on the part of teachers who retired without building.
“It’s a wake up call to the government in terms of the way teachers are motivated before they retire. We feel that teachers must be able to be given mortgages so that they acquire houses even before they retire. Teachers need to have knowledge for financial illiteracy so that they begin to construct houses when they are still teaching. Because it is very embarrassing for someone who was a teacher or Head Teacher being evicted or retiring without a house. We feel that teachers must think twice and plan for the retirement. Because what we know is that; once you are given a repatriation fee then you need to move out from the government house. So if those have been paid, they must not continue living in government houses because there are other teachers who would want to occupy those houses,” Chansa said.
He however said government action on the retired teachers was inhumane.
“It is a source of concern not only to those who are about to retire, but those that are serving. It has reflected very badly on the teaching profession and it has sent a signal of how the system will be able to treat them. We are getting two versions of the story where the minister says that those evicted were paid and the victims are claiming that they have not been paid. We are appealing to the unions to convene an emergency meeting where the victims should sit down with the ministry and reconcile the positions,” Chansa said.
“Because the two positions are quiet parallel and we feel the truth must come out. But if they haven’t been paid, that would be extremely sad that the government does not pay them and at the same time they evict them especially at 01:00. The eviction was inhumane. Issues of retirement benefits must not be there in the 21st century. When somebody retires we would want to see our teachers given what is due to them. So that they don’t have anything to do with this ministry. This issue has brought a lot of systems in question; we feel that social security must be a top priority on the agenda of teacher’s motivation and also the unions must be on their feet in defending the rights of their members”