Striking Zimbabwe teachers could be motivated back to their workplaces despite Government turning down their demands to be paid their monthly salaries in United States dollars after Harare yesterday hiked civil servants’ salaries by 40 percent plus a 10 percent risk allowance for the country’s educators which will see the lowest paid teacher pocketing $18 237 per month.
In terms of the current exchange rate, this means that the teachers, who have been on industrial action over low wages and poor working conditions, will now be getting almost US$180 on a monthly basis.
Previously, the teachers had been getting not-more-than US$35 from their underpaying employer, and since the contentious phased reopening of schools for the Third Term after a Covid19 induced six-month hiatus on September 28, the teachers have not only been on strike demanding that they get their salaries in United States dollars, they have also been calling for the restoration of the pre-2018 US$520 monthly earnings.
“Noting its obligations to pay a decent wage, Government has reviewed upwards, the salary increase offer to civil servants by 40 percent which will be awarded to deputy director grade and below. In addition to the salary increase, the teachers will also be awarded a 10 percent risk allowance. The new basic salary package for a teacher is $18 237, which is above the Poverty Datum Line (PDL),” said Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa in a post-cabinet briefing Tuesday.
Minister Mutsvangwa said the latest salary increment was effective November 1, 2020.
“This means that the compounded review percentage of the teacher grade salary is 1 284 percent since the beginning of the year. The lowest paid civil servant will receive a salary of $14 528. This is effective from November 1, 2020,” she said.
In her update on the teacher-pupil turnout since the beginning of the Third Term, Mutsvangwa said the attendance of the teachers has since increased by 0.6%.
“Under primary and secondary education, the attendance of learners was 51.8 percent, while that of teachers is 25.7 percent. For the final examination classes, learner attendance was 42 percent, while the national average on teacher availability marginally increased from 27.16 percent to 27.77 percent”.
On the other hand, President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s widely criticised Finance and Economic Development Minister Prof Mthuli Ncube has allayed fears of the erosion of the civil servants’ salaries, saying Government has put in place measures to insulate the traditionally underperforming Zimbabwe dollar against devaluation.
Prof Ncube told journalists that the stability of the local currency in recent months both the parallel and official market exchange rate platforms, was due to sound policies which resulted in successes on the macro-economic front.
“We don’t expect this to destabilise the current stability. We want to make sure the ordinary civil servant is as close as possible to the poverty datum line,” Minister Ncube said.
According to the Finance Minister, policies such as the tight control of mobile money transactions and the auction system have ensured that the Government gives its perennially dissenting workers a real wage increase that was not susceptible to market speculation.