Zimbabwe: Biti evasive as teachers threaten strike

Reading time 2 min.

Zimbabwe’s teachers have threatened a fresh work boycott unless the country’s new government agrees to pay them more than the US$100 allowance paid to every civil servant last month.

Officials from the Zimbabwe Teachers Association (ZIMTA) and the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) – the two representative bodies for teachers in the country say that their members would not report for duty for the second term in May unless they were paid more money.

Last year, only 28 days of learning were recorded as teachers were on strike.

They have communicated this to Education Minister David Coltart in a meeting yesterday that they would not report for duty unless the government topped up their salaries or allowances.

However, the union leaders appeared comfortable with teachers getting paid US$100 this month, indicating their members would remain at work if this was the case but would go on strike if the allowance was not topped up in April.

Said ZIMTA chief executive officer Sifiso Ndlovu, “We told the minister that our members are very unhappy and have given the government up to April 2009 to find the money, failure of which teachers will not go back to work,”

Coltart described his meeting with teachers’ unions as “fruitful” adding that his ministry and the government was working to improve salaries for teachers.

He said: “It was agreed the government has no capacity at the moment to improve on their allowances. The Minister of Finance has assured us the government is looking for funding. We are aware of their concerns and we will be continuously looking into improving the salaries.”

The hard cash allowances paid civil servants last month and due to be paid this month were raised from donors. But rich Western governments with capacity to fund the unity government have refused to provide support until they see evidence Mugabe is committed to genuine power sharing and to implementing comprehensive political and economic reforms.

Finance Minster Tendai Biti last week told journalists the international community had to step in and assist Zimbabwe’s new government or it would fail to deliver on its promises and ultimately collapse.

Biti yesterday said he could not comment on whether the government had found money for salaries for its workers as promised last month but pleaded with civil servants to be patient while the administration looked to address their salary grievances.

“What I can say is that we are all the time looking for money. It takes time but we are trying all the time. Civil servants will be paid but we appeal for patience,” said Biti.

However government sources said civil servants will again be paid US$100 each to be deposited in their respective bank accounts beginning Tuesday, with teachers the first to get paid followed by soldiers who will be paid on Wednesday.

Zimbabwe  Read latest news and features from Zimbabwe : business, politics, culture, life & style, entertainment and sports
Support Follow Afrik-News on Google News