The cash-strapped government is yet to start paying school fees for the teachers’ children promised in February when the educators embarked on a crippling strike over their poor remuneration and conditions of service.
In response to the industrial action, Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube announced a 20 percent increment backdated to January. He also tabled non-monetary incentives targeting teachers, including the payment of school fees for up to three biological children capped at ZWL$20,000 per child.
Speaking during a question-and-answer session in the National Assembly Wednesday, legislators took the government to task over the implementation of that offer.
Some Members of Parliament (MPs) questioned why would the government want to pay fees for teachers’ children instead of adequately paying them to manage their affairs on their own
Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Deputy Minister, Lovemore Matuke said it was never an initiative from the government to pay fees for teachers’ children but it was something negotiated by the unions.
“The teachers’ unions negotiated for that benefit, so the government was responding to the request by the unions to ask the Ministry to pay fees for their children,” said Matuke.
Matuke said there was some work to be done before payment of the fees is made.
“We are now in the process of capturing data on the number of teachers for which the government is supposed to be paying the school fees. When this system was introduced, nobody had information about how many kids… who are teaching in Binga and in Munyikwa, so we are still in the process of capturing the names.”
He explained further: “The other thing is, as soon as we finish that process, they are going to be paid – backdating from the date which the announcement was made. So, there is no disadvantage.”
Harare Central MP, Murisi Zwizwai, however, demanded that a Statutory Instrument (SI) be put in place to ensure the payment of those fees is legally enforceable.
Norton legislator, Temba Mliswa recommended that the government write a memorandum to all schools to allow teachers’ kids to attend school while modalities are being put in place, something which Matuke said could be done.
“I am sure the issue is still under process and I hope as we gather information from the teachers who are the beneficiaries for that payment, I think it (SI) is going to coincide with the time when we are going to pay the teachers.”