Teachers Union of Malawi (Tum) has chided the new Secondary School Teachers Union of Malawi (SSTUM), saying it will create conflict among teachers.
Secondary school teachers met in Lilongwe on December 12 this year and resolved to establish their union, arguing Tum does not represent their interest as it is allegedly influenced by the government.
"Those advocating for the formation of SSTUM have an agenda based on serving themselves rather than the constituents they purport to speak for," said Denis Kalekeni, Tum Secretary General in an e-mailed response.
He further expressed fear that the new union will create conflict as not only the current Tum National Executive Committee has senior position holders who are secondary school teachers, but also there is one Principal Secretary for both primary and secondary schools.
"The Ministry of Education has two Principal Secretaries, one responsible for Higher Education and the other for primary and secondary schools.
"What this means is that there shall be two unions both confronting the same PS," said Kalekeni, adding Tum caters for both secondary and primary school teachers alike.
But the SSTUM, according to minutes of its December meeting, foresaw this battle and said teachers unions in other countries faced similar resistance but they are now working together.
"Similar resistance happened in Zambia but now the Secondary School Teachers Union of Zambia, the Basic Educators Teachers Union of Zambia and the Zambian National Teachers Union are working together.
"In Nigeria, the Academic Staff Union of Secondary Schools and Nigerian Union of teachers are also working together after similar fights," read the minutes in part.
The new union feels that the government has been meddling in the freedom of Tum by making some actions such as strike and demonstrations illegal, thereby silencing the teachers.
The union further says the legacy of suppression of unions emanating from authoritarian government still reigns in today's government, making unions like TUM toothless hence the founding of the new union.
The new union has elected interim office bearers and it is headed by Fred Sato as chairperson. It has vowed to register itself in June next year after surmounting all possible resistance.