TEACHERS were yesterday finally paid their December salaries, but were left disappointed after Treasury without notice deducted $50 for pension contributions setting the stage for another clash between the government and civil servants.
BY OBEY MANAYITI/ NQOBILE BHEBHE/ LUYANDUHLOBO MAKWATI
The teachers started accessing their salaries yesterday while the rest of civil servants, including nurses, are expected to be paid on January 5. They described the unilateral pension deductions as a recipe for disaster.
This came at a time when some of the civil servants have given until tomorrow, for the government to pay them their December salaries and bonuses, failure of which they were threatening to go on strike.
Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association chief executive officer Sifiso Ndlovu said members were now being consulted on the way forward.
“This has not given us any joy at all. Our salaries have been delayed and on top of that they have been deducted without any explanation. We are also surprised as to why will they (government) bring up the issue of pension in December,” Ndlovu said.
“This has added to the anger of educators that they are not being paid on time and on the other hand their take-home pay is being deducted. At the moment we are engaging our members so that we have their views as to the way forward.”
Asked if they would consider embarking on strike, Ndlovu said nothing was impossible judging by the anger among teachers.
“With the amount of anger we have, anything can happen especially when the government does not want to dialogue,” he said.
Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe chief executive officer Manuel Nyawo said they would push for dialogue with the government.
“We are very much disturbed by this move. We have gathered information that the deductions have been effected ranging from $40 to about $50, but we are not sure what that is for, maybe it’s going towards pensions,” Nyawo said.
“We are surprised because it’s coming at a time when we are pleading with the government to increase our meagre salaries. It also comes at a time when we are preparing school fees for our children.”
He said the deductions were unilateral as government never consulted its workers.
In Bulawayo one of the teachers, Similo Mukarati, told Southern Eye that they felt abused by the government.
“We have been working the whole year and no such deduction has been made. At first when I received my balance through the phone I thought it was a mistake,” Mukarati said.
“I then asked some of my colleagues who have collected their payslips and they told me that there was an increase in pension deduction. What is troubling us is that why this increase in pension which they have not collected for years?”
As early as 6am there were long queues outside banking halls as thousands of teachers trooped to access their money.
Apex Council president Richard Gundane said the deduction was shocking and with the amount of anger gathering within the affected civil servants, demonstrations were likely. “We are receiving this information and as a leadership we have taken the matter up with the government to get clarity.
We want to get the formula used to calculate and the percentage they used. There is lack of clarity and as it stands now anything is quite possible,” he said. On Sunday the Rural Teachers’ Union in Zimbabwe (RTUZ) urged all workers to join an anti-government protest, warning teachers would not return to work until their bonuses are paid.
“We call upon the working class of this country to join hands and confront the anti-workers ruling party and demand bonuses for civil servants. Retrenchments and other anti-workers policies we have witnessed this year were a clear message on the need for solidarity among the working people,” RTUZ said in a statement on Sunday.
Public Service minister Priscah Mupfumira was not reachable for comment.