Former teachersof the now-closed Viphya Schools who have remained destitute since May last year when the school stopped paying their wages, have asked for intervention into the matter by government and well-wishers.
The 29 teachers together with 23 support staff have remained glued to the schools’ premises to date despite the schools’ official closure in July, 2016 because they have not yet been paid.
Speaking to Malawi News Agency (Mana) Tuesday, former head teacher for the school, Kondwani Phiri, said the workers are stuck at the premises because they have no money to use for them to go out of the campus and are therefore asking for intervention into the matter from well-wishers to help them.
We would like to appeal to government and other well-wishers to help negotiate with the schools’ administration so that they can release us by giving us what is ours. We can’t be helpless here forever.
For close to eight months, we have not been paid, which has resulted to off- campus staff being kicked out by landlords and they are staying in hostels, he said while other members of staff sat in silence.
Gramex Kalambo, a former Viphya Primary School teacher is being housed in what used to be the school’s kitchen.
I am an old man and have no problem going to my village, but to do that, I need money, which the school has not given us.
On December 23,2016, my land lord kicked my family out since he could not take it anymore. I owe him close to K158, 000 in rentals, he said with a tone of sadness.
Similarly, Constance Mwanyongo, a widow of Harold Mwanyongo, a former head teacher who had been at the school for 25 years till his death last June 2016, is stranded at the institution with no money to look after herself since she has not yet gotten her husband’s dues.
Life is not easy for me. I have no one to help me pay the bills and there is no sign that these people will pay us because they tell us that we will be paid when the school is sold, she lamented.
According to Phiri, in October last year, they launched a complaint with the Ministry of Labour but were told to wait for the administration which promised to pay them as soon as the school was sold.
We are yet to go to the Industrial Relations Court because we have not been able to find ourselves a lawyer to represent us since that too will call for money, he said.
Commenting on the matter, one of Viphya Schools’ trustees and Financial Controller, Rodger Nkhwazi, said they had faced some challenges in finding the right buyer for the institution, hence the delay in paying dues of the former staff.
He said it was unfortunate to learn that some members were destitute at the schools’ premises because, according to him, they were given liberty to find work somewhere while waiting for their perks.
If these people are destitute today, it is because they have chosen to do so and not necessarily because we have not paid them.
Just imagine, the school was closed in July, and till now, they haven’t gotten jobs, then it becomes our fault? he wondered and emphasized the victims will get paid as soon as possible.
Nkhwazi added that they are expecting to finalize some terms with the buyer whose name he did not disclose.
Viphya Schools [Primary and Secondary] was built under the Beit Trust and opened its doors in 1988.
It was shut down on July 31, 2016 on grounds that the schools have been operating at a loss for a while. At the time of its closure, it had reached a point where it no longer was able to meet the costs.
According to a memo released on July 27, 2016 signed by the schools’ trustees, all members of staff were to be remunerated accordingly as soon as possible.
Source: Malawi News Agency � MANA