President Sambi with President Obama
President Sambi with President Obama

In the Comoros Islands, the chairman of the Mayor’s Association of Grande Comoros is calling on President Ahmed Abdallah Mohamed Sambi to resolve an indefinite strike by teachers who are demanding their pay arrears.

Mohammed Mchangama said it is the government’s responsibility to pay the striking teachers.

President Sambi with President Obama
President Sambi with President Obama

“What I feel is sadness because in all these, schools have closed. It’s a lot of waste and of course I think that in a democracy people have to demonstrate because of what is due to them. And it is true that the teachers like other civil servants have not been paid for months. The students are also demonstrating because of the situation,” he said.

Media reports suggested that at least 300 teachers across the country refused to turn up for classes at the start of the school term earlier this month, claiming they are owed accumulated salary arrears.

Mchangama said the government should pay the teachers.

“The only thing obviously to be done is to pay them now. We have not heard from the government saying anything about difficulties or the economic situation or what they intend to do. So, far if the government has said (that) the funds that we have now (will) allow us to pay three months or four months or two months and then please be patient… what they can do is to appeal to the government to find a solution to that,” Mchangama said.   

Some of the teachers claimed the government has so far failed to pay their November and December salaries.

Reports say tensions escalated after demonstrating students started throwing rocks at shops and setting up barricades in the capital, Maroni.

Mchangama said previous administrations faced similar circumstances by failing to fully remunerate teachers.

“This is not new only for this government. Maybe what can be said about this government is that in the beginning President Sambi had pledged that the situation will be clear and now it’s dragging on for years. Obviously the state as such is not run properly…we have too many civil servants probably for the kind of service we can afford to pay,” Mchangama said.

He also said the ongoing demonstration was increasing tensions in the capital, Moroni.