SCHOOLS open today for the third term under a cloud of distress for thousands of parents who have been plunged into a quandary by the country’s difficult economic situation which has seen them struggle to raise fees to send their children back to school.
Ever since government resuscitated the Zimbabwe dollar in 2019, after 10 years in the morgue, the deafening mantra has been the southern African country will never ever redollarise.
But as schools open today that declaration appears to have been turned on its head because most schools are now no longer interested in Zimdollar fees and the local currency appears headed back to the mortuary.
The schools’ demand for exclusive United States dollar (US dollar) fees or part payment in US dollars has left many parents distraught because most of them earn in the local currency.
This glaring government policy inconsistency of allowing schools the option of charging US dollar fees, yet insisting that parents who cannot afford the US dollar fees can pay in the local currency at the prevailing interbank rate is the crux of the conundrum.
While the parallel market currency exchange rate has somewhat been halted in its upward gallop, it is still higher than the official interbank rate, meaning that for schools, the Zimdollar fees are unattractive since most goods and services are charged at the parallel market rate.
One wonders why government, if it is a government that feels for its suffering nationals, did not direct that all fees should exclusively be paid in the local currency or at least specifically state the percentage of the US dollar component, rather than let individual schools use their discretion.
Why is government so sheepish by not outlawing US dollar fees if it is confident that the country will never redollarise? We would have thought that this was the best opportunity for government to stamp its authority and tell schools to accept Zimdollars or shut down.
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Government’s policy inconsistency is now a real source of misery for many parents as schools reopen today.
If truth be told, this is a clear indication that government is now doubting that the Zimdollar has much life left in it. This is a serious indictment to one of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s key policy pronouncements.