Whenever the month comes to an end, Auxilia Musi (37) wonders how she will continue going to work as she carries a plastic bag with packs of Maputi, Sweets and Zapnaxes for selling at work, with frowns on her face, Musi looks at her payslip and gets super-disappointment because what is supposed to be a salary is not enough to cater for her basic daily needs as a professional teacher.
She begins to think of the glory days when she started teaching and she remembers that the remuneration was reasonably good, back then.
But, the situation of incapacitation at the moment, Musi is no longer motivated with her job.
Such is the situation of many teachers in Zimbabwe as they are incapacitated and are almost relying on their side hustles for survival. “The transport allowance that l get is not even enough to cater for my transportation to and from work as l use public transport. We all know the transport fares that are charged, remember the money is needed in cash which is difficult to get and even if l gets it, it’s too little to cater for basic needs,” she said.
Musi said even the housing allowance is not even enough to cover for her rentals.
“Where do you find a house to rent those charges you in RTGS nowadays, they all want their rentals to be paid in USD yet we are paid in RTGS that is not even enough. This is why teachers are incapacitated because we cannot afford to send our children to school, it is even a struggle to just afford basic needs, l wonder where this will lead us.”
The major concern of teachers is that their salaries are below what they need to survive.
The teachers have been calling for a rational salary increase to meet their families’ needs and execute their crucial assignments without having to worry about where they will get the next day’s transport money. Teachers’ concerns have taken long to be addressed as teachers demanded that their salaries should be indexed to United States Dollar as was the case in 2018.
Harare based teacher Learn more Mautsi said its only in Zimbabwe where teachers are not appreciated well where in the SADC region, teachers have maintained their noble status and they really earn well.
“If we are to talk about other countries, they motivate their teachers by giving them decent salaries and fair wages which is a different story in Zimbabwe as teachers are not getting enough salaries.
“It is my appeal that teachers be recognized for their hard work and efforts as teachers are incapacitated,” he said.
Mautsi said the only way to survive peacefully was through hustling. “Surely l tells you that relying on government’s salary is not enough, as teachers we must be entrepreneurs and we need to do side hustles to sustain the peanuts that we are being paid.”
Joseph Kwenda who is also a teacher said he now regrets why he chose the teaching profession.
“When l went for college all was well, l had high hopes of doing something that l love passionately and being paid very well but then with things changing l am now de-motivated to perform my duties as an educator.”
Kwenda said with the new system in schools which had been introduced with the aim of containing Covid-19 had caused work overload.
“Classes have been divided into two groups with the other group coming in the morning and the other coming mid-morning. This makes me to have overload of work as l have to teach twice something that l was supposed to do once, it’s so tiresome yet l am not getting a salary to motivate me to work that hard.”
Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister, Professor Paul Mavima was once quoted in the Herald of 13 September 2021, as saying, “We call upon civil servants to be patient with the Government which is committed to improving their conditions of service. Government is committed to reviewing their salaries in line with the prevailing economic conditions. The review of salaries will be a continuous process through quarterly meetings of the National Joint Negotiation Council.”
On 29 October Mavima was also quoted in the Newsday Newspaper saying government was committed to paying its civil servants, but would not pay teachers who do not want to report for work.
“This government of Zimbabwe has not failed to pay its civil servants even in the hardest of times. Even teachers who were employed this month got their salaries. Ask them why they were not paid,” Mavima said.
“If they absconded from work, well, that is a good enough reason. How do you expect government to pay teachers who do not want to work?”
According to a report by Bekithemba Dube titled Incapacitated But, Bricolising: The Ambivalence of The Teaching Profession in Times of Crisis in Zimbabwe, teachers have employed survival skills to sustain themselves.
The skills include offering private tutoring, gold mining activities, buying and selling and pirating among other skills, this only happens in Zimbabwe.
Should teachers continue doing this, they do not want much but just need fair wages only.
A report by center for global development proved that Teachers’ monthly earnings, relative to other workers with education, vary across countries. In Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, and Zambia, they are paid much more than other workers. In Liberia, Niger, Zimbabwe and Sierra Leone, teachers are poorly paid but they are fighting hard to get their status back.
THE Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association (ZIMTA) Chief Executive Officer Dr Sifiso