TEACHERS have threatened to embark on another crippling strike when schools open for the second term next month in protest against poor remuneration and conditions of service.
The teachers downed tools for the greater part of last year and only returned to work in February after the formation of an inclusive government whose Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said they would be paid in hard currency.
Since February teachers and other civil servants have been receiving a US$100 monthly allowance while their salaries are paid in local currency that was rendered useless by the dollarisation of the economy in January.
Teachers have described the allowance as an insult.
Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta), the largest teachersâ€™ union in the country, this week said they would not go back to schools in May because the government was failing to pay them salaries.
â€œA lot has been said about the plight of teachers and the revival of the education sector but little is being done to address our concerns,â€ said Zimta spokesperson Sifiso Ndlovu.
He said government and humanitarian organisations who had pledged to revive the education sector had failed to honour their pledges.
â€œWe have been forced to revisit our commitment to revive the quality of education offered in this country,â€ Ndlovu said.
The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) said its members would go on strike in May if government fails to pay them a salary this month.
PTUZ spokesperson Oswald Madziva said: â€œWe cannot continue to live on fate and hope that the government is going to resolve our issue.â€
He said teachers went back to work in February in the hope that the inclusive government would deal with their plight.
According to governmentâ€™s Short Term Emergency Recovery Programme, the countryâ€™s worsening economic environment had negative impact on the education sector that resulted in most schools failing to open up for the better part of 2008 and the beginning of 2009.
The government said it needed US$800 million to address immediate challenges in the education sector and ensure that teachers go back to work, as well as addressing longer term restoration of education infrastructure.
The strike by teachers saw some of them leaving the country in search of greener pastures, which affected the administration of public examinations.
Last yearâ€™s Grade 7, â€˜Oâ€™ and â€˜Aâ€™ Level examinations results are yet to be released. Besides teachers, other civil servants are also disgruntled by the governmentâ€™s failure to pay allowances instead of salaries.
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions president Lovemore Matombo said government has reduced its workers to slaves.
â€œThe government is using the public service but is not paying them salaries but an allowance that is way below the poverty datum line,â€ Matombo said.
BY LUCIA MAKAMURE