Government is headed for another showdown with teachers after failing to honour its pledge to pay tuition fees for their children, with less than three weeks before schools close for the first term.
According to a salary deal signed last month following protracted negotiations, each teacher is entitled to school fees for up to three children with a ceiling of $20 000 per child.
The government announced the offer in February alongside a 20% salary increase and an additional US$100 effective this month after teachers boycotted classes citing incapacitation.
Primary and Secondary Education ministry spokesperson Taungana Ndoro yesterday said processing of the money was an ongoing exercise.
“It is not true that the government has failed to honour its pledge. Due process is being carried out and we have to wait for it to take place. Remember we have a substantial number of teachers, over 140 000 of them and, therefore, due diligence cannot take place overnight,” Ndoro said.
Teachers unions, however, accused the government of insincerity, with Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general Raymond Majongwe saying the educators were tired of empty promises.
“There is nothing yet. Not even the disbursement template exists. Once again, the government is short-changing its employees. There is neither a policy nor procedure to make the teachers benefit. Government now has a tendency of throwing benefits that benefit no one,” Majongwe said.
“Last time there was a COVID-19 allowance that was meant to assist those who contracted the disease at work, but until today, none of the 1 588 of our members got a cent even after contracting the deadly disease while those from other ministries benefitted.”
Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe president Obert Masaraure said they were frustrated by government’s failure to implement a resolution passed by the National Joint Negotiation Committee.
“It is sad to note that the government promised benefits which have not materialised up to this time. The government pledged to pay tuition fees for teachers’ children beginning March 1, but these fees are yet to be paid,” Masaraure said.
Teachers are also demanding a US$540 salary they used to earn before October 2018.