Teachers bemoan US$13 slave wage

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TEACHERS say they can no longer report for work consistently, amid revelations their basic salary has been eroded by inflation to US$13, with the government failing to solve the plight of public sector workers.

In its 2018 election manifesto, the ruling Zanu PF promised to improve the lot of the civil servants, but the opposite has happened.

Workers have been bearing the brunt of the economic meltdown, with legislators unsuccessfully calling for Finance minister Mthuli Ncube to present a ministerial statement on the erosion of salaries and the incapacitation of many workers.

The country has been witnessing record inflation levels. American applied economics professor Steve Hanke has warned that Zimbabwe may soon degenerate to the 2008 hyperinflation levels.

Zimbabwe was engulfed in hyperinflation in 2008, with monthly inflation climbing to 79.6 billion percent, while the annual rate of increase surged to 89.7 sextillion percent in mid-November 2008. The Education Union of Zimbabwe (EUZ) has written to the ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare over the incapacitation of public sector employees.

“Our members in the rural areas have been long forgotten with a rural allowance of ZW$3 516 which is 72 US cents at interbank rate. Our members shall therefore not consistently report for duty until they are fully capacitated,” reads the letter which was copied to the permanent secretary in the Public Service ministry and the minister and permanent secretary in the minis[1]try of Primary and Secondary Education.

“Teachers got a paltry ZW$70 311 in April 2023. Then, the interbank rate was at US$1:ZW$994.71 and could secure US$75. The interbank rate has since shot up to US$1:ZW$4 868 as at June 2023. “Prices of basic commodities have also spiraled at each upward review of the interbank rate. The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe has confirmed that in May 2023, a family of 6 re[1]quires ZW$1 million to survive monthly from ZW$611 275 in April 2023. “Without an immediate review of teachers’ salaries, they cannot afford decent accommodation, transport, food and paying bills.”

Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe president Obert Masaraure said the future of the sector is bleak as the government has failed to improve working conditions since it came to power in 2018.

Before President Emmerson Mnangagwa came to power through the 2017 military coup, teachers were earning US$540, which unions have been calling for. Other unions have been calling for a US$1 200 salary to bail out incapacitated teachers. In its 2018 manifesto, Zanu PF promised to improve working conditions, while creating 2 million more jobs.

However, working conditions have hit rock bottom, which has seen the skilled workforce seeking greener pastures outside the country.

“The future for the education sector in particular is bleak. We are witnessing a massive brain drain as workers, including teachers, are leaving Zimbabwe in search for greener pastures in the diaspora. “Those who are unfortunate enough to remain at the workplace are highly demoralised, with very low productivity. Downtime is also high as workers are consistently engaging in job actions. The revival of Zimbabwe’s economy is next to impossible with the current crisis in labour relations.

“To save Zimbabwe, people should vote a government that can improve the welfare of workers,” Masaraure said.

A fortnight ago, Kuwadzana East MP Charlton Hwende challenged Finance minister Ncube to come to Parliament, which he has failed to do.

“My point of privilege is based on a ruling that you made three weeks ago for Minister Mthuli Ncube to bring a ministerial statement on the state of the economy. When you made the ruling, the exchange rate was pegged at ZW$1 000 against the United States dollar. Today it is around US$1:ZW$7 000,” Hwende said.

“As I was coming here, I met an army sergeant. His payslip is insufficient to buy 1 kilogramme of T-bone (meat). They are getting ZW$86 000 (US$11.50) in monthly salary. With the current situation, the Finance minister will be paying salaries. So, this means people are going to get paid the same salaries they were given last month. With the current situation honourable Speaker, we would have failed as Parliament if he fails to come to give an update on the economy. “We would have failed if we fail to bring the Finance minister to Parliament,” he said. NewsHawks

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