Matheus Mumbala, Swapo Party’s regional coordinator for /Karas Region, believes teachers have a genuine case in their demand for an 8 percent salary increment, but the timing of their demands is wrong.
Speaking to New Era on the teachers’ impending strike, Mumbala said they have the right to demand a salary raise from government, but argued that the timing is wrong, as a strike now would have negative impacts on the end of year results, especially for Grade 10 and 12 learners.
“I understand their situation and sympathise with them, but we must put the education of the Namibian child first,” he said, adding: “They have genuine demands, but [are making them] at the wrong time.”
Mumbala said with the country’s ailing economic situation and persistent drought, more resources are needed to win this fight and ensure no Namibian dies of hunger and thus government cannot afford to give the teachers the 8 percent they demand.
He reminded teachers to be responsible citizens, saying the future of many learners is at stake and noted that the Constitution stipulates that every Namibian child has a right to education and going on strike would be denying children this right.
“It’s the last and important term of the year and we must also have the Constitution in mind, as this will violate the rights of these children,” he said of the looming strike.
Queried on how his fellow politicians managed to hike their salaries and benefits last year, despite the drought, he said it might have been that there was money available at the time, which is not the case now.
Mumbala stressed that there is no need for teachers to feel that politicians only want to benefit themselves, explaining that all government is asking is for them to accept the five percent for now, until the financial situation is better.
He called on government to understand the teachers’ plight and in due course to increase their salaries accordingly, while calling on the teachers to accept the five percent for now. He called for equal treatment, saying if politicians increase their salaries, all other public servants are eligible to get the same benefit, albeit in better economic circumstances.
“If politicians raise their salaries, then all should get a raise. Let’s not be selfish, let it be equal and let’s be exemplary as leaders,” he advised.
Mumbala also took a swipe at opposition party politicians, saying they are using the looming teachers’ strike to score political points. He said some power hungry politicians are using the situation to score political points by seemingly backing the teachers to go ahead with the strike.
He questioned why if they really care about the teachers the same politicians did not stand up against their own salary hike in parliament when they agreed to increase their own salaries.
Asked if he was referring to DTA president McHenry Venaani, who recently called on government to heed the teachers’ call for an eight percent increase, Mumbala declined to be specific, saying: ‘I’m referring to all of them’