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Army windfall angers teachers

The government’s decision to award soldiers a steep salary increment has angered teachers, who are accusing President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration of giving security forces special treatment.

BY NOKUTHABA DLAMINI/VENERANDA LANGA

According to government correspondence, soldiers were given a 22,5 % pay rise while police saw their pay going up by 20%.

The salary hikes came as Zimbabwe drew closer to a crucial election on July 30.

Mnangagwa rose to power in November last year after an army takeover of government institutions forced long-time ruler Robert Mugabe to step down.

The Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association (Zimta) said awarding the security forces higher salaries showed lack of seriousness and commitment to education.

Zimta secretary-general Tapson Ngangunu Sibanda on Friday distributed a circular to national, provincial and district executive members, saying the pay rise showed the government was not acting in good faith.

“(The) Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association has confirmed that government devalues all professions that have nothing to do with state security and reins of power,” reads the circular.

“This is confirmed by the segregatory awards to government employees where the military was awarded 22,5%, police service 20% and health professionals over and above their awards were awarded vehicle loans.”

He said the pay hikes flew in the face of government claims that it was too broke to review salaries of other civil servants.

“After profusely insisting and swearing that the government had no resources to fund teachers’ leave payments on a once-off payment and failure to commit on pay modalities , the government demonstrated disregard for teachers and has to date failed to say how leave days will be liquidated,” the circular added.

“But they have been too quick to commute [to cash] for those service ministries that are ‘militarised’. Should teachers be in the military or be led by the military to be heard?”

Sibanda added: “These kinds of actions are bad indicators for the education system under this dispensation.
“Are we going to be witnessing the devaluation and death of education?

“Zimta condemns with the strongest sense the lack of seriousness and commitment by this government and warns of serious consequences.”

Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general Raymond Majongwe has also written a letter to the President’s Office complaining about the discriminatory practice.

“We are very disappointed at what has happened because it is unfair that they have created a three-tier government where they chose soldiers and the police and treated other civil servants like teachers as the least of all,” he said.
Teachers and other civil servants only received a 17% salary increment.

Apex Council chairperson Cecilia Alexander said she had already written to the government demanding that the rest of the civil servants should be given a 22% salary rise like the soldiers.

“We have already sent the letter to government and are expecting a response this week as this is an urgent matter,” she said.

“Initially during our negotiations we had asked for a minimum wage of $700 for the rest of civil servants, but government said they could not afford that.”

Alexander said it was imperative that the Apex Council spoke with one voice as government would take advantage of them if they were divided.

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