TEACHERS who were deployed between 2017 and 2021 yesterday staged a protest, demanding to be placed on payroll.

Meanwhile, the government has assured the protesting teachers that they will all be placed on payroll in the next two months.

The teachers marched from the Ministry of Education to State House, seeking an audience with President Hakainde Hichilema but were intercepted by police officers along Independence Avenue before they could reach their destination.

After negotiating with the police officers, the teachers were told to go back to the Ministry of Education so that they could be addressed by the permanent secretary for technical services Joel Kamoko.

The teachers eventually agreed to this and police officers escorted them back to the Ministry.

Teachers’ representative Andrew Chilufya told Kamoko that they decided to protest because they were tired of waiting to be placed on the payroll despite being assured by the ministry.

“In February, we visited this Ministry of Education and the permanent secretary for administration so that we consult on how far you have moved with our issue of placing us on payroll. We were assured that by February month end, all of us are going to be placed on payroll before you could release the advert for the 30,000 teachers. We were very excited to be promised that by February month end, all of us were going to be placed on payroll. Unfortunately, February came and nothing happened. We went to the Human Resource department and no one attended to us. We are crying to our President and we know our President is seeing how we are suffering because we are human beings and citizens of this country,” said Chilufya.

“We are pleading to the government that since you said that February month end we were going to be put on payroll, but we were not placed on payroll, we are waiting for this month again, maybe there is something which we can’t know which you are not telling us. We want this month to be placed on the payroll.”

And addressing their concerns, Kamoko assured them that between March and April, all of them would be placed on payroll.

Komaki lamented that the recruitment process was previously full of mistakes.

“I have heard your cries and you are welcome here and you don’t need to be escorted by police officers. So my plea with you is to let your leaders come back later. I am available and I will meet them and talk to them. Remember, this recruitment process was full of mistakes. There were various players recruiting simultaneously and instead of recruiting a given number of people, they went beyond the allowed numbers. Now, the people suffering are the teachers who desperately want employment. Some of them have been hoodwinked of their monies and they have paid the price and they are not seeing the results. So this system does not want to buy employment. We want our teachers to be recruited normally and put on payroll and managed with dignity. The President wants to see that the new teachers are in class and I am sure that by May, there will be new teachers in class. So, between March and April, all of you will be placed on payroll,” he said.

The permanent secretary further urged the teachers to use proper channels to air out their grievances as opposed to marching with placards on the street.

“You don’t need to march anywhere else. You have marched to the right place and from here, let’s have leaders who will come back and say, ‘PS, you promised this yesterday, what is it that is to be communicated’. You always communicate in that WhatsApp group and whatever you have written, I have heard. So, for me the pretence of coming here to say that you are peaceful when you are full of insults, I will not say much. So, let’s not protest on the street because you can always come here and dialogue,” said Kamoko.