BY Garikai Mafirakureva
CASH-strapped teachers said they had to approach loan sharks to borrow money for bus fare to return to work on the reopening of schools yesterday.
They were caught unawares when government announced that schools would reopen within a week following a prolonged COVID-19-induced shutdown.
The announcement came as a shock to teachers and parents who were ill-prepared.
This led some to resort to loan sharks or selling their belongings to raise bus fare.
Some of the teachers, who spoke to NewsDay on condition of anonymity, said they had no option except to borrow even if they would struggle to repay the loans because of punishing interest rates.
“We know this government does not care about our plight, so we are left with no option but to find ways of going to work. We have tried everything, but it seems this authoritarian government is using its dictatorial methods to quash dissenting voices. Some of my colleagues have sold properties they took on hire purchase and are yet to finish paying for them. We have been reduced to beggars,” a Chiredzi-based teacher said.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe national co-ordinator Harrison Mudzuri said with paltry salaries and unbearable working conditions, the Zimbabwean government itself was even surprised how teachers were coping.
“Teachers now earn a salary that is way below the poverty datum line. We wondered how they managed to return to their workstations until we heard some are selling their properties or approaching loan sharks for bus fare. As educators, they should know that at the moment they are incapacitated. What I know when animals are faced with danger or discomfort, they resort to three means of survival: fight, flee or freeze,” Mudzuri said.
“When fight is the option they confront the danger head on, if flight is another choice they resort to running away or avoiding engagement. But if freeze is chosen, they stand still and fake death, hoping that danger will go away. That being the case, the majority of the Zimbabwean civil servants have resorted to flight or freeze option. Teachers, however, should not fake death. They should confront danger and openly declare their incapacitation.”
“Come together and demand what you deserve. They must take charge and not leave their needs, interest and survival to chance. They are their own liberators. Unite and fight one war with one objective and one mission,” he charged.