BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA/CATHERINE MUCHIRI
FINANCE minister Mthuli Ncube claims government has done a lot to improve the welfare of teachers and insisted that their demands for US$540 salaries were misleading.
“Coming to salaries, there is also a fallacy and we keep hearing a figure of US$540, but that is not correct because back then, the effective salary was in fact half of that. It was about US$275 and I can prove it,” Ncube told Parliament on Thursday.
“Nurses have similar slew of non-monetary benefits as well. Surely, we have really applied our minds and done a lot to support our hardworking civil servants.
“I just wanted to debunk the thinking that we have not reached the kind of October 2018 levels of salary because even that figure is actually fallacious.”
Teachers and other civil servants are pleading incapacitation as they push for United States dollar-indexed salaries as the local currency continues to lose value.
Government has said it is unable to meet their demands, and has reacted by suspending teachers that go on strike.
But teacher unions said they will respond to Ncube with a crippling strike action.
“The statement (by Ncube) is reckless and hinges on arrogance. It is a fact that the cost of living is rising both in foreign and local currency terms,” Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Obert Masaraure said.
“Teachers will demand justice by going on full-blown strike if the government fails to resolve the salary crisis.”
Meanwhile, government has released $2,68 billion towards the payment of tuition fees for teachers’ children.
“Details of 103 556 children of some 52 171 teachers from all the 10 provinces have so far been identified by schools as eligible for this benefit,” the Public Service Commission said yesterday. “Parents whose children’s details have been provided will shortly receive the benefits in respect of term one, which will be followed by the disbursement by government of fees due for term two.”
In February, government pledged to pay tuition fees for children of teachers with a maximum three children per teacher getting $20 000.
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