Zimbabwe teachers double wage demands ahead of elections

HARARE – Zimbabwe school teachers have given government a piece of homework ahead of elections this year after placing an astounding US$1,260 minimum wage demand.

This comes after the Zanu PF led administration has failed to meet the educators’ demands of a minimum wage of US$540.

Zimbabwe heads for high stakes elections expected in the second half of the year with teachers expected to play a significant part as polling officers and voters all in one.

However, at a wage crisis indaba in Harare Wednesday, teachers affiliated to the firebrand Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) threw the proverbial cat among the pigeons when they more than doubled their wage demands.

“A living wage premised at $1260 in line with the cost of living is just what we demand. We are not demanding luxuries but money for basics,” ARTUZ spokesperson Thembakuye Moyo said.

“The payment of MPs, deputy ministers and ministers lump sum loans is evident treasury can afford paying teachers $1260.”

He was referring to a controversial government payout of US$40,000 to more than 300 legislators who form the country’s two legislative houses.

ARTUZ president Obert Masaraure added to claims the government has the capacity to pay a living wage.

“We bear witness to mansions being built by senior government officials across the country, we are aware of the top of the range vehicles owned by our leaders and we have monitored how Mthuli Ncube has pampered the bosses with elite luxuries. They have it all.

He added, “We have never at any point demanded luxuries but just the basics, food, school fees for our children, healthcare, clothing, transport to and from work, accommodation and electricity and water.

“If we were to prepare a bill to give (finance minister) Mthuli Ncube, we could come up with a figure way above the US$540 we have all along been clamouring for.

“Our bill to Mthuli amounts to US$1 260. How much is Mthuli paying us – a gross total of US$200?

“For Mthuli, the housing allowance is just US$7,50 and transport for a whole month is worth US$7,50. In short, Mthuli wants us to walk and live in caves.”

The vocal teacher representative association proposed a three day strike every week.

“This is open to discussion. Others are demanding an indefinite strike. We invite you to vote for your choice, either indefinite or a 3-day strike every week,” he said.

Initially, teachers were demanding the restoration of their pre-October 2018 wages of US$540.

Just like the rest of the civil servants, Zimbabwe teachers earn their wages in local currency.

Government has adamantly resisted demands for US dollar wages saying the country primary revenue sources were in local currency.

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