Teachers want promised PDL salaries

Teachers’ unions have demanded that President Robert Mugabe’s new government immediately pay them promised salaries above the poverty datum line.

The call by teachers comes in the wake of the announcement by ZEC that Mugabe and his Zanu (PF) party won both the presidential and parliamentary polls.

During the just-expired Government of National Unity, Mugabe and his party blamed MDC-T Minister of Finance, Tendai Biti, of denying civil servants salaries in line with the poverty datum line.

After election results were announced, Mugabe said he would honor all promises made by his party ahead of the polls.

Civil servants and other government workers have been earning allowances instead of salaries and wages based on qualifications and grades, ever since Zimbabwe adopted multiple currencies.

Both the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association expect the new government to review teachers’ salaries as soon as Mugabe appoints his new cabinet.

PTUZ Secretary General, Raymond Majongwe, said Mugabe promised to unlock revenue realised from diamond sales and improve the welfare of teachers and other government workers.

Biti was labelled ‘stingy’ by Zanu (PF) for refusing to increase salaries and other benefits for civil servants.

“We expect the new government to review teachers’ salaries as soon as they come into office and make further adjustments after the national budget in January next year. As for now, we are expecting nothing below the PDL,” said ZIMTA president, Richard Gundani.

Gundani said his 43, 000 member union wants teachers to be paid salaries according to grading, experience and qualification.

The Apex council, which brings together the Public Service Association, ZIMTA, PTUZ and the Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, could not be reached for comment.

Analysts described some of the promises made by Zanu (PF) as populist and difficult to meet.

“It will be interesting to see Mugabe and Zanu (PF) channeling proceeds from Chiadzwa diamonds into the national coffers, given that the mines were privatised for the benefit of a few within Mugabe’s inner circle. Besides diamond revenue, treasury cannot sustain civil servants’ salaries above PDL, without an active industry and agriculture sector,” said an economic analyst who requested anonymity.

Economic analyst, Eric Bloch, said for the government to pay its workers above PDL salaries and wages, it must only use state revenue for important things. Bloch described the ‘bloated’ cabinet as weighing heavily on Zimbabwe’s small and limited revenue collection base.

“Zimbabwe does not need a huge and excessive cabinet of more than 10 ministers. Cutting expenditure is one of the ways government workers can be guaranteed above PDL salaries,” Bloch said.

There are fears that restless teachers and other government workers may take to the streets, in protest against poor working conditions, if the new government fails to honor its promises.

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