A union representing rural teachers has rolled out Friday protests where its members report for duty with their pockets pulled out to express disquiet over the unending cash crisis.
By NQOBANI NDLOVU
The protest runs under the hashtag #HomwePanze #IsikhwamaPhandle #Pockets Out campaign.
Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) national co-ordinator Brighton Makunike said the union felt rural teachers were the worst affected by the cash crisis as they do not have the luxury to spend days in bank queues like their urban counterparts.
Most banks do not have branches in rural areas, a situation Makunike said results in rural teachers at times failing to access their salaries on time as they only have weekends when they visit cities to withdraw a maximum of $50 — the daily limit at most financial institutions.
“We are going to be doing this every Friday, where our members and sympathisers report for duty with their pockets pulled out to protest the unending cash crisis.
“The protest speaks to the broader socio-economic situation in the country, and we are saying rural teachers are the worst affected,” Makunike said in a telephone interview.
The government has on several occasions promised to deal with the cash crisis, but the situation has been deteriorating by the day.
Incidentally, fresh bands of bond notes — the surrogate currency — are awash on the streets among illegal cash dealers.
The government has reacted by enacting a law criminalising illegal cash dealing on the streets, but that has done little to scare the money changers into abandoning the practice.
On Friday, former Education minister David Coltart, who also took part in the ARTUZ protests, urged Zimbabweans to participate “to show you are not happy with the state of the economy and the fact we can’t even get 50 bond notes out of the bank, while politicians (and their children) are buying luxury vehicles! It’s time to let our voices be heard.”
Coltart referred Southern Eye to his son who is also a lawyer, Doug Coltart, when contacted for comment.
“The aim of the protest is to give people a creative and low-risk avenue to express their discontent at the state of the economy and the fact that our pockets are empty.
“Many people in Zimbabwe are frustrated and angry about what is happening, but they are also scared to do anything about it. Apart from a few diehard activists, most people are not ready to go into the streets to express their discontent because they fear they will be beaten,” Doug said in his emailed response to Southern Eye.
“Pulling out your pockets won’t solve the cash crisis tomorrow — but for many people it’s the first step towards becoming an active and engaged citizen who is able to hold our leaders to account.
If we are able to transform our society into one where ordinary citizens are organised, empowered, and have cast off the shackles of fear — that, in the long run, is what will solve Zimbabwe’s drawn-out crisis,” he said.