Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe told Parliament yesterday that Treasury has processed teachers’ leave grants for 21 districts and that funds were expected to be remitted by close of business yesterday.
The minister was reacting to concerns from member of Parliament (MP) for Salima North West Jessie Kabwila (Malawi Congress Party-MCP) who wondered at what she called a lack of concern by the National Assembly, especially Minister of Education, Science and Technology Emmanuel Fabiano who had not spoken out on the matter.
She called for the minister to resign if he did not have solutions to the teachers’ strike which has paralysed learning in most public primary and secondary schools since last week Monday.
Fabiano’s response that Kabwila’s remarks were out of order because the Minister of Finance had already responded to the matter did not please legislators who booed him and called out ‘shame!’.
Said Kabwila: “We have been here for weeks yet students at Chancellor College are not in class and pupils are on the streets because teachers are not in class.
“The minister has the gall to say this matter is out of order? I propose a two-day break on our meeting to resolve this issue once and for all.”
However, Gondwe absolved his colleague by apologising that he misunderstood his officials on how long the process would take.
“Now we can proceed to remit the leave grants for 21 districts [out of 28] whose GP5 forms have been completed. We will credit the accounts of the councils hopefully by the end of today [Monday],” he said.
He said once that was done, it would be up to the councils to credit the accounts of teachers.
The Ministry of Finance has said it has managed to allocate funding for 20 councils to cater for the 2016/17 annual leave grants for teachers who have now entered week two of their sit-in.
In an interview with The Nation on Monday, Special Assistant to the Minister and Public Relations Officer in the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Alfred Kutengule said the remaining councils will receive their funding soon.
In an interview, Teachers Union of Malawi (TUM) president Willie Malimba said parents and government should not count that they will start teaching anytime soon because government has not settled their dues.
With the sit-in still continuing, concerns have been raised on the effects of the same on learners who are expecting to write their Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) examinations beginning June 22.
But Malawi National Examination Board (Maneb) spokesperson Simeon Maganga has said the sit-in will not affect their calendar as they have not received any official communication.
Last month, TUM warned of the strike as they said that teachers’ patience on the leave grants wore out because of the deliberate attempt to ignore the payment for the fiscal year 2016/17 by the end of May 2017.
For the past months teachers in the country have been calling government to act on issues that they have, but the issue of leave grants which they term important hasn’t been addressed yet.