BY RICHARD MUPONDE /NIZBERT MOYO
ZIMBABWE School Examination Council (Zimsec) markers yesterday downed tools demanding transport and subsistence allowances two weeks after commencing duty.
The striking markers were marking 2020 “O” and “A” Level scripts but stopped after Zimsec only deposited $7 000 into their accounts instead of $21 000 or its equivalent in United States dollars, which is US$200.
In Harare, the examiners were camped at Mt Pleasant High School, where they staged a mini-demonstration demanding their dues.
Some of the markers left the premises vowing not to resume work until their allowances were paid in full.
“We started work on March 6 and Zimsec advised us that our allowances would be deposited after two days. However, that did not happen. We waited until the weekend, but the allowances hadn’t been sent. All this time, we were using our own money for food, transport and accommodation as some of us come from outside Harare,” said one marker who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“Some regions got their full allowances amounting to between $16 000 and $21 000 depending on where one was coming from. Only two regions, Harare and Bulawayo, out of the five regions are affected,” he said.
Another marker, who also refused to be identified, said when they confronted the Zimsec centre manager supervising the marking exercise, they were told that the examination council’s coffers were empty.
“The problem is that we are not being given supper here. We are buying using our own money. We have accommodation at this school, but the living conditions are deplorable since there is no running water. Those who live outside the marking venue commute every day to this place using their own resources. So what we want is our full package like what was given to other regions such as Mutare, Masvingo, Chinhoyi and Bindura,” he said.
In Bulawayo, examiners stationed at Hillside Teachers College, Bulawayo Polytechnic, Townsend High School and United College of Education also protested in the afternoon after receiving allowances of between $7 000 and
“Some of us come from outside Bulawayo and we pay US$5 for accommodation. It’s a mockery that Zimsec decided to segregate us, while others in other regions were given their full allowances of more than $20 000,’’ said a marker who also refused to be named.
The educators said they were told that government would bail out Zimsec, which has run out of funds.
Zimsec spokesperson Nicholette Dhlamini said: “It’s true that Harare and Bulawayo got their part payment today, according to what they claimed, and their second batch will be coming through. They can’t get the same amounts since they come from different regions. Others come from Masvingo, Bulawayo and so on and so it should be clear that these are not marking allowances because marking fees are paid after marking the exams.”
Last year, Zimsec was forced to rope in primary school teachers and other ancillary staff as invigilators during the November examinations after examiners downed tools, rejecting a $4 000 payment offer, which they said was too little.