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Malawi’s opposition MP Musowa to start stay away strike: “I will only come back when learners resume learning”

Lawmaker Victor Musowa: I will only come back when students resume learning.

BLANTYRE-(MaraviPost)—As teachers’ industrial strike enters week two, some Members of Parliament have faulted the Tonse Alliance government for handling the matter with kid gloves yet pupils of poor Malawians across the country are not learning.

In his reaction to the issue on Monday in parliament, Mulanje Bale lawmaker, Victor Musowa, said he was walking out of Parliament and would only come back when students resume learning.

He said he will pay back the allowances for the days he will be out of Parliament.

Musowa said it was unfair for members of Parliament, whose kids are studying abroad or in glamorous schools in the country, to be discussing issues in Parliament when sons and daughters of poor Malawians are not learning because teachers are demanding risk allowances.

However, instead of giving a tangible answer, Leader of the House Richard Chimwendo Banda advised Musowa against boycotting Parliament, adding that the opposition should not politicise teachers’ strike.

Teachers in Malawi’s public schools are staging a staw away strike, demanding bonus pay for working during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as better protective equipment.

Malawi’s schools were due to reopen last week, after a five-week suspension caused by a surge in COVID-19 cases.   

The striking teachers say working during the pandemic puts them at risk. 

Willy Malimba, president of Teachers Union of Malawi, said personal protective equipment like face coverings, sanitizers and soap are inadequate in many schools. 

“Of course, we saw some schools receiving soap from the government, but for sanitizers, not yet. So, looking at all these situations we are saying, ‘No, the government is not ready to reopen schools,'” Malimba said. 

President Lazarus Chakwera Tuesday last week redirected Teachers Union of Malawi (Tum) representatives to the Presidential Taskforce on Covid as the right body to decide on their demands for Covid risk allowances.

But the task force turned down the teachers’ demands, arguing they are not at risk of contracting the virus as they do not interact with patients.

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