Wednesday, July 6, 2022

SATO President worried over divisions of unions in Southern Africa

Henry Kapenda, the President of Southern African Teacher Organization (SATO), has expressed concerns over divisions of unions in the Southern African region, saying that such a challenge is retarding their whole efforts of collective bargaining.

Addressing the teachers during the Botswana Teacher’s Union Congress (BTU) in Francistown last week, he said that such divisions are a major challenge for SATO, adding that the problem is spreading like cancer.

“Multiplicity of unions in the Southern African region is a habit which is spreading like cancer and it is retarding the whole objective of unions to bargain. This is a very serious challenge for SATO,” he said.

Kapenda also took issue with poor salaries and bad working conditions for teachers in the region, blaming different governments in the region for not taking the grievances of the teachers seriously. He said that the poor salaries and bad working conditions have always led to lots of strikes, which are haunting the region.

“It is saddening to note that most governments in the region view unions as enemies rather than stakeholders. It is high time that these governments should realize the importance of unions as partners in development,” he said.

Kapenda further lamented political interference into the affairs of the unions by politicians. He said that most of the politicians merely interfere into their affairs to advance their own political interests rather than help unions.

“Once these politicians get voted into power they now develop what is called the no-money syndrome. When we demand salary increase the answer we always get from the politicians is that there is no money,” Kapenda added.

He said that teachers as educators should be recognized and be respected as they play a significant role in the development of their countries. He added that it is through education that most economies have thrived.

On a positive note, Kapenda said that SATO is an organization that seeks to build solidarity among teachers in the Southern Region. He said that the organization has come up with cultural exchange programmes and sports games to try and nurture this solidarity.

“To try and build this solidarity, we have introduced sports games and cultural exchange programmes as they can help us interact and unite. It is very important for us to unite and we should also be proud of who we are as Africans. We must also never allow the western culture to derail us from our true identities.”

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