Teachers Angered By Zim Govt’s "Borrow Bus Fare" Remarks
Teachers unions in Zimbabwe have demanded an apology from the government after Primary and Secondary Education Ministry permanent secretary Tumisang Thabela remarked that teachers who could not afford to travel back to their posts should borrow money. This was after teachers told goverment that they cannot return to work since they are incapacitated.
Speaking to NewsDay in separate interviews on Wednesday, teachers said the government was mocking them for not affording a decent living when yet it is the government that is failing to pay them.
Zimbabwean teachers are demanding that government reverts to the pre-October 2018 salaries of between US$520 and US$550 or the equivalent in local currency.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) secretary-general Raymond Majongwe lamented the fact the Zimbabwean teacher has been reduced to being a beggar.
"When a whole profession is reduced to this, how do we inspire our kids? Why reduce us to beggars? We are a joke. The damage is colossal."
Zimbabwe National Teachers Union (ZNTU) chief executive Manuel Nyawo said teachers would not borrow on behalf of the employer but would continue demanding improved working conditions and higher salaries.
"The unfortunate, damaging, insulting, provocative and misplaced remarks by the Permanent Secretary cannot go unchallenged.
"This behaviour smacks of an individual or individuals who have no feelings for the teachers as they care less about us.
"How can we borrow to be able to go to work? Is it not evidence that confirms our declared position of incapacitation?
"We are more than seriously incapacitated as confirmed by the Permanent Secretary who turned into a trade unionist before Cabinet."
According to Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ), Thabela’s remarks have exposed the government’s incompetence and lack of willingness to address the teacher’s concerns.
Addressing journalists during a post-cabinet media briefing on Tuesday, Thabela asked the "broke teachers" to borrow money so that they could travel to their workplaces, also adding that about 70% of teachers had turned up for work.
Thabela said,"From our daily check of attendance for the previous week, the number of teachers who were coming as compared to the number we are expecting was over 70%.
"There are one or two (provinces) that are still depressed but generally, we are over 70%.
"So those who are supposed to not have enough money or whatever (sic), we are hoping that by the end of next week, they would have borrowed enough money to go back to work."