Unionists fight ministry over political ban

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MASERU – OCTOEBR 26- A fresh war has erupted between the ministry of education and the teachers’ union over a ban prohibiting educators from participating in part politics.

The ministry of education and training’s ban is still reverberating in the minds of teachers union Lesotho Teachers Trade Union (LTTU) with its secretary general Vuyani Tyhali bitterly criticising the ban as a direct violation of the rights of the teachers to associate.

The ministry of education led by Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) minister ‘Makabelo Mosothoane, issued an order on August 5 2014 to desist from actively participating in political parties’ activities.

The instruction advises the teachers and schools principals to stay away from active participation in politics.

“This circular serves to inform all principals and teachers that the ministry is aware of active involvement of some principals and teachers in party politics. Therefore all principals and teachers are advised not to participate in such politics,” the ministry of education Principal Secretary Keratile Thabana wrote to teachers and schools principals.

However, the teachers’ union has protested the ban labelling it as a violation of teachers’ right to association.

“It is common knowledge that the ministry of education and training in its history in Lesotho has been intent on violating teachers’ rights. This was reflected in the Teaching Service Regulations of 1986 where it was stated that no teachers shall be a branch chairman, branch secretary and branch treasurer of a political party. This clause was carried forward with the enactment of the Education Act as amended.

“As a union we have applied pressure against this clause both locally and internationally until it was removed from the Education Act 2010. It was not the Ministry of Education change of heat but pressure. This circular is flying in the face of the Constituion of Lesotho that guarantees freedom of association and International conventions particularly Convention 87 that guarantees freedom of association,’ the LTTU secretary general Tyhali wrote to the Ministry’s principal secretary Thabana.

Tyhali has strongly warned the ministry not to blame teachers when they pressurise the ministry to withdraw its order prohibiting educators from actively taking part in party politics.

In a brief interview Vuyani minced no words to say that the teachers wee highly determined to fight the ban at all costs as “it is our constitutional right to associate with any organisation of their choice.”

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