THE wrangles that have rocked the Professional Teachers union of Zambia (PTUZ) cannot be ignored. They are very serious, mainly bordering on money, the union’s constitution and protocol.
When the union was formed, it struggled for many years before it was recognised by the government. During these struggles it focused on transformation and identification of leadership.
From 2009, we continued organising and meeting teachers around the country, and I was in the forefront ensuring that the vision of the union was clearly understood.
All these operations involved money.
During this period, PTUZ was bombarded with legal suits by sister unions. The cases attracted huge legal bills totalling about KR80,000 which the union is yet to settle. As at May 23, 2012, the union had accrued a staggering debt of about KR300,000, and all this is documented.
It was a mutual agreement by the national executive committee that all those who sacrificed will be helped to pay back their debts.
The union was first registered on January 8, 2010 and de-registered on August 6 of the same year on allegations that it had used members from other unions.
Later on August 10, 2010, I sued the MMD government in my personal capacity for wrongfully cancelling the certificate of registration for PTUZ, a case which never took off until the Patriotic Front (PF) took over power.
On May 23, 2012 the government, through the Ministry of Education, Science, Vocational Training and Early Childhood Learning recognised PTUZ.
All administrative matters were dealt with and the union started receiving the membership subscriptions, the first being K13 million.
This was against a huge debt the union had accumulated amounting to over K400 million from 2009.
Among other functions, it came up with conditions of service under which the president is supposed to get an allowance of K20 million, vice presidents K14 million, general secretary K58 million, deputy general secretary K41 million and the trustee K9 million.
All these payments were approved, but I refused to honour them because they included personal-to-holder vehicles as follows:
President – Land Cruiser Prado, vice-president – Land Cruiser Prado, general secretary- Mitsubishi Pajero, deputy secretaries- Land Cruiser Prados with a total cost of K554 million. This contract was cancelled as the union could have gone into serious financial problems.
The NEC agreed to find a car dealer to supply teachers on a hire purchase contract, and that was done.
All teachers were to buy cars on the condition of hire purchase, and the purchases took long as the car dealer had other options to fulfil.
Before the luxury cars for NEC members the supplier had supplied three vehicles at K110 million, which the union has been using. The cars were bought on hire purchase, which took the union over 11 months to pay back.
At the time all this was happening, some senior PTUZ officials had shared a total amount of K118 million in November and December 2012.
I demanded that the money be accounted for, which they have failed to do to date.
Senior PTUZ officials have failed to retire imprest given when they toured the provinces.
I really wonder why these officers can claim misappropriation of funds when the union paid them huge salaries and allowances, when they collectively made decisions to pay and borrow money.
It’s very sad that the Labour Commissioner has not acted on the recommendation by the Zambia Police Service to evoke the Industrial and Labour Relations Act, Cap 269, Section 21 of the Laws of Zambia.
There was no corruption or misappropriation of union funds. What is there is a power struggle, a contest for leadership.
The entire NEC must be dissolved so that the books of accounts are not tampered with.
The author is PTUZ general secretary
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