Soldiers force teachers to go on strike

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Soldiers in Harare have been accused of forcing teachers in high-density suburb public schools to join the on-going civil servants strike.

Civil servants earn an average of $150 a month.

They are demanding pay hikes of up to $630, which the government says it can not possibly afford. However, the matter came to a head last week when soldiers allegedly took it upon themselves to enforce the strike.

Soldiers reportedly visited schools in Chitungwiza and Highfield, where they allegedly told teachers to join the strike.

Lt Colonel Overson Mugwisi, the army public relations officer, said the matter was being probed.

“I will call you on Monday and update you on the matter,” he said.

Meanwhile some teachers in public schools have remained resolute in their quest for cash. Instead of going on strike they are demanding cash incentives from school children.

School children from Sunningdale 1 Primary School said they had been told to pay $2 a week for their lessons.

“It is now up to us parents to make sure that our children go to school. We have negotiated with the teachers and now we are paying directly to them so that our children get an education,” said Precious Nyarenda. She has a grade six child at the school.

Under this arrangement, a teacher with 40 pupils in his or her class can earn as much as $80 a week, which translates to $320 a month.

Zimbabwe Teachers Association President Tendai Chikowore said it was unfortunate that some teachers had decided to be “cowards” at a time when the whole civil service had spoken with one voice.

“So far we have done rallies in Masvingo, Bulawayo and Gweru to educate people on the industrial action that we have taken,” said Chikowore.

“We will not rest until our grievances are addressed.”

On Friday the government declared the week-long civil servants strike illegal. In a statement attributed to Public Service Commission Chairman Mariyawanda Nzuwah, the government ordered all its employees to return to work or “face the consequences”.