BY BRENNA MATENDERE/ STEPHEN CHADENGA
TEACHERS from Masvingo have complained of being forced by education ministry officials to complete forms that will allow government to deduct 2,5% tax from their salaries to fund stocking of garrison shops at military barracks.
On the other hand, in rural schools of the province, some headmasters and education officials were reportedly telling teachers that the forms they will be filling would be for distribution of food vouchers by Government.
Takavafira Zhou, the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) president confirmed the developments and lambasted the practice.
“Several teachers have been cheated into writing their full names, EC numbers, ID numbers and indicating that they want vouchers when in reality they are signing acceptance to contribute 2,5% for garrison shops. It is sad there are some school heads who have joined in the duping of teachers at their schools,” he said.
“Why would the Ministry of Education entice teachers to apply for vouchers when other ministries distributed vouchers without any application, we wonder? Why would the ministry require a teacher’s details that they already have?” asked Zhou.
Government last week proposed deducting 2,5% tax from all civil servants to create a fund to give its workers cheaper loans. It also announced the introduction of garrison shops in barracks, raising suspicion that the 2,5% tax was to fund the military tuckshops.
Investigations by NewsDay revealed that the affected teachers were from schools such as Chikato Primary School, Rwambiwa Primary School, Chada Primary, Negovanhu Primary and Arch Munaka Secondary School. There is also Bare Primary School and Batanai Secondary School.
Masvingo provincial education director Welcome Zedias Chitiga, was not picking up calls yesterday.
Zhou urged the teachers in Masvingo to be vigilant.
“Teachers must never salivate at the garrison poison carrot. For those who have not yet signed the so called voucher applications, be warned! To be forewarned is to be for armed. The garrison shops should be resisted by all means,” he said.
Meanwhile, Primary and Secondary Education permanent secretary, Tumisang Thabela on Wednesday said government lacked enough money to recruit more teachers to address the current staff shortage.
Speaking at the commissioning of state-of-the-art science laboratory at Selukwe Chrome High School in Shurugwi and multi-purpose sports court and bus donation to Impali Primary School from Unki Mine, Thabela said although government gave her ministry the go ahead to recruit 5 000 teachers, they had only managed to employ half of that number because of lack of financial resources.
“We are obviously worried as a ministry that there is a shortage of teachers,” she said.
“Although we were given the green-light to recruit 5 000 teachers, this year we have so far managed to employ 2 500 because we don’t have enough money to pay them.”
She added: “We will, however, continue to engage so make sure that we fill the gap. The shortage of teachers is one among other several challenges we face as a ministry.”