Crisis looms at schools

HARARE - Schools re-open tomorrow but a crisis is looming with teachers giving government up to Wednesday to review their salaries which they say fall way below the poverty datum line.

In an interview with the Daily News yesterday, Progressive Teachers Union (PTUZ) secretary-general Raymond Majongwe said government needed to honour its promises to award them decent pay.

He said the issue of civil servants’ salaries has been handled in a disturbing way and temperature was rising within the civil service.

“We must make it very clear that we have been short-changed for very long and so many promises have been made and we hope the meeting of Wednesday will bring something positive,” Majongwe said.

He said in the event the unions go on strike, it must not be misconstrued as if they have a political axe to grind.

Teachers, who constitute a significant percentage of civil servants, now feel that President Robert Mugabe’s call for poverty datum line salaries during the Zanu PF annual conference held last year was nothing more that grand standing.

Last week, civil servants threatened industrial action if their demands were not met but government maintains that any industrial action has to be legally conducted.

This demand by teachers comes at a time when government has frozen all increments on school fees, a development that could cripple operations at schools.

But Majongwe says the freeze would not affect the running of affairs in several learning institutions, especially boarding schools. He said Zimbabwe was the only country whose schools increased fees every term.

“I have been checking with schools in South Africa, certain fees have not changed for four years,” he said.

He said if government was serious, it was supposed to freeze transport fares, rentals, electricity and water bills so that the economy could stabilise.

His observations come at a time when the country is experiencing a liquidity crunch which has seen hundreds of companies closing shop while some banks are even failing to remit depositors’ money on demand.

But unions such as the Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association (Zimta) continue to argue that dialogue with government should be given a chance before any strike action.

Parents, on the one hand, have welcomed government’s directive to freeze school fees.

Last week, Pinky Ncube of Bulawayo told the Daily News the directive would go a long way in cushioning overburdened parents.

“Most parents are struggling to get money for school fees at last year’s rates. School heads should be considerate and understand that the future of our children is in their hands,” she said.

Chipo Manyangadze of Warren Park said the move was justified as the country was going through a serious economic crisis.

“I believe an increase in school fees is the worst thing any parent would want to hear, especially in January. But as guardians or parents, we should first get reasons why they want to do so.

“We may discover that they want to enhance security at the school campus by hiring guards which benefits our children. Some parents have girls and they would not want to hear of rape cases or thefts because of lack of security. So at some point we should hear their side of the story,” she said.

Majongwe said government had taken a pro-poor position, and should not use that to justify denying workers a salary increment.

“I want to assure you that we respect the government of the day that was voted in by the people and they must also recognise that workers are suffering and they must urgently address that,” Majongwe said.

He added that government should not continue hiding behind the fact that the economy is not functioning properly.

He said there was a high degree of opulence and extravagance exhibited by politicians.

“How do you justify lack of economic performance if (Happison) Muchechetere is earning $40 000 and Cuthbert Dube is earning $250 000 per month.

“After all, we have read in the press today that they have discovered new diamond deposits. If countries like Lesotho and Swaziland that are producing nothing are affording to pay their teachers up to $1 000, why can’t Zimbabwe pay salaries of $540,” Majongwe said, adding that teachers would strike if their demands are not met.

Comments (12)

Ana Majongwe, shandisa pfungwa uri teacher iwe.Unoti mari inobvepi industry kunobva tax yaparara iyi.Hakuna mari iri kuwuya chenjera kukandwa muchitokisi manjemanje.

ZUDA - 13 January 2014

There will be no crisis..Majongwe is a spent force, no one listens to him anymore. This is a lewd attempt at relevance..It is really so sad.

gutter poet - 13 January 2014

the problem in our country is that those who are purported to be leaders are not leaders but managers. that is what we have in govt and private sectors. and this is what has costed us; poor management. if you knew you didn't have the money to effect increases why make promises?

tk - 13 January 2014

the issue of civil servants' welfare is a sensitive issue and it shld be treated with the sensitivity it requires.these teachers have families also to take care of,kids who have fees to be paid for,and bodies that need shelter and adequate food for them to operate effectively an the government knows that very much that is why it made salary hike promises.So to now treat teachers as slaves and expect them to silently work for peanuts whilst they are hungry and their kids are ravished by poverty is simply mental thuggery and an extreme level of inconsideration.Majongwe is merely echoing the sentiments of his constituency so to blame him for the issues he is articulating is immature and archaic...keep up your advocacy duty cde and don't let your current predicament and what fat-cat bureaucrats and their respective followers say define who u r and what your future will be.

mariko - 13 January 2014

Ana Majongwe hanzi government voted by the people, kana muri imi makaivhotera chidyai izvozvo.

Edzai - 13 January 2014

People tiri kufa kuno ku Zinwa nyangwe maticha akaenda kuchikoro isu hatina mari yekuti wana waende kuchikoro.Since October 2013 no salaries and their is no hope yekuti tinowana mari apa.ZANU yatiparira iyi wakuru wenyika huyai kuZinwa tatambura weduwee

Oriental spot Inn - 13 January 2014

Majongwe is not relevant nhaika.hope you stay in Zimbabwe isu we know the truth ptuz tinoiziva isu mamember ayo.going to prison has never been our worry.we have been there before.be reminded we are fully behind the govt of the day but still we have to fight our war

Hoto - 13 January 2014

Majongwe is not relevant nhaika.hope you stay in Zimbabwe isu we know the truth ptuz tinoiziva isu mamember ayo.going to prison has never been our worry.we have been there before.be reminded we are fully behind the govt of the day but still we have to fight our war

Hoto - 13 January 2014

Majongwe is not relevant nhaika.hope you stay in Zimbabwe isu we know the truth ptuz tinoiziva isu mamember ayo.going to prison has never been our worry.we have been there before.be reminded we are fully behind the govt of the day but still we have to fight our war

Hoto - 13 January 2014

just distribute the overpaid salaries and allowances of the named people, i.e cuthbert dube and others, distribute salaries evenly, we will all survive.

think - 13 January 2014

Govt cofers are empty, we know asi nyika inemari yakawanda. The problem is that the national resources are "shared" by only a few. FACT: Zimmbabwe is one of the richest countries in world. all the President should do is to retrieve the stolen riches and redistribute to the majority poor. We did it with land, we can still do do it with stolen diamonds.

Papa Action - 13 January 2014

@ think et al, i think you are not thinking, Cuthbert works for PSMAS and teachers cannot get paid by resources from PSMAS. Same goes for Muchechetere

BIG - 14 January 2014

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.