HARARE - Zimbabwe's ever deteriorating education sector could suffer more damage after the country’s under-appreciated rural teachers said they would go on the streets today in a desperate endeavour to force the broke government to honour its dues and pledges to civil servants.
If the teachers’ threatened demonstration does take off, it will become the second major sector to embark on mass action after unhappy public sector medical staff — including doctors and nurses — went on strike last week in protest at the government’s failure to pay them their December salaries.
The Rural Teachers Union in Zimbabwe (RTUZ) has already submitted a notification letter to the Police Internal Security intelligence (Pisi) in Harare, informing the law enforcement agents of their intention to among other things “express our displeasure at the failure of government to pay salaries and bonuses of civil servants”.
“RTUZ, in conjunction with Zimbabwe Activist Alliance (ZAA), Zimbabwe National Students Union (Zinasu) and progressive citizens will be having a demonstration on the 4th of January 2016 in Harare to condemn and reject the 7,5 percent pension deduction on our meagre salaries,” RTUZ president Obey Masaraure further said.
Teachers got the shock of their lives on December 29 when they received their long-delayed salaries, when they were confronted with pension deductions ranging between $45 and $55 which they had not been notified of.
Masaraure said their demonstration, which would start in the morning with a march from Market Square to Fourth Street, would see them petition Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa at his offices at the New Government Complex.
The protestors, who observers say are harbingers of worse things to come, would also hand over the same petition to Public Service minister Prisca Mupfumira at her Kaguvi Building offices so that they “restore the dignity of civil servants and also to show solidarity with health workers who are on strike and demand the payment of their salaries to avert loss of life”.
Masaraure told the Daily News yesterday that even though police had not responded to their request, they were going ahead with their protest.
He urged all civil servants, workers, vendors, students and ordinary Zimbabweans “to participate in this legal demonstration”.
Political analysts have warned that the country could be plunged into total chaos as fed-up civil servants, including teachers and medical staff — who spent a gloomy Christmas without their salaries — all threaten to take matters into their hands to force President Robert Mugabe’s broke government to honour its dues.