BY LORRAINE MUROMO/BEAUTY NYUKE
TEACHERS unions have accused the government of failing to address their salary grievances, and said they have become victims of capitalism and State repression.
They said following revelations by Finance minister Mthuli Ncube that government had realised a $9,8 billion budget surplus, they were now entitled to better salaries and renews calls to be paid at a local currency equivalent of US$520 per month.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Takavafira Zhou said that it was worrying that the government was not bothered by the deteriorating standards of teachers’ working conditions.
“The Finance and Economic Development minister Mthuli Ncube, has recently stated that Zimbabwe has had a $9,8 billion budget surplus. Yet, the Public Service Commission (PSC) has been peddling a budget deficit and urging teachers to be more patient with the government in financial dire straits,” Zhou said.
“We have knocked at every government door, be it parliament, parliamentary Portfolio committee on Primary and Secondary Education, Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Salaries and Conditions of Service for Civil Servants, PSC and President’s Office, but nothing has materialised.”
He added: “It is clear the government is gambling with teachers’ welfare and lives. The treatment of teachers in a degrading, discriminatory, dehumanising and servitude manner is unacceptable, more so at a time when other civil servants with less qualifications and responsibilities are getting a better deal.”
Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Obert Masaraure weighed in saying: “The finance minister just declared a budgetary surplus of $9, 8 billion surplus for the first quarter. Where is the money coming from? They must use that money to improve teachers’ salaries,” he queried.
In response, Primary and Secondary Education ministry spokesperson Taungana Ndoro said it was unfair and disappointing to note that teacher unions still regarded the ministry as an enemy.
“As the Primary and Secondary Education ministry, we are unwavering in our support for an improvement of conditions of service of teachers and it is unfair to label us complacent in that regard,” Ndoro said.
“Our position has always been that improved conditions of service of teachers’ means enhanced service delivery of quality and wholesome education for all Zimbabweans. It, however, does not mean that some teachers should arm-twist the government by claiming so-called incapacitation or attend class without delivering effectively yet no teacher has gone a single month without a salary.”
“Some teachers unions need to practice restraint and give the government time to sufficiently address their concerns,” he said.