Teachers and all educators who subscribe to the Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association, should expect to see increased benefits and a return on their investment in the short to medium term, as the ZIMTA farm, also known as The ZIMTA- Ehlekweni Vocational Centre (ZEVI) enters into full swing in delivering training and upskilling opportunities for subscribing members.
The ZIMTA -Ehlekweni Vocational institute situated in Matobo district along Plumtree road in Matebeleland Province, has been divided into various strategic units that are earmarked for generating revenue for the association and also for capacitating educators and upskilling them in order to cater for future and current needs of their profession.
ZEVI one of ZIMTA teachers’ investments was acquired in 2014 following a national conference declaration which empowered the Association to diversify its revenue streams through acquisition of assets that generate income for its members whilst making the association less reliant on membership subscriptions.
“The reason therefore, Ehlekweni was acquired was that we wanted to utilize this farm so that we can work hard and produce more resources for ZIMTA to remain sustainable and the idea was that the 718 hectares at the farm, would be divided into various activity structures which would eventually assist the association through revenue generation, in the long run when we are self-sufficient we will make sure ZIMTA subscriptions become very low and that they are lowered to such an extent that it does not make sense to continue to be demanding and relying on subscriptions from members, that way we would have alleviated pressure from the members of the association,” Dr Sifiso Ndlovu , the ZIMTA Chief executive officer said as he explained the vision and strategy behind the farm acquisition.
ZEVI is the new Centre for hosting the association’s conferences, meetings, seminars and training workshops that specifically focus on empowering teachers and equipping them with the right tools for their trade and labour related issues. This way ZIMTA resources should be contained and be enabled to circulate within the union.
As Dr Sifiso Ndlovu explained “ZEVI facilities provide accommodation for National Executive (NE) so that we can at least save resources, allowing ZIMTA money to circulate within, so for all the activities that ZIMTA does at Ehlekweni, the NE will pay a small amount of money to sustain the vocational center, and eventually , the money is put back to circulation into the association.”
As a modern and forward looking Association, ZIMTA understands that Teachers are constantly searching for direct and indirect benefits of belonging to the association. In response to the teachers’ concerns, the ceo, outlined the various opportunities available to the membership.
He said,” This is a non-profit making organization, its mandate is to ensure that it pushes the agenda of teacher protection, teacher defense and puts in the agenda of collectivism in terms of collective bargaining. The subscribing member benefits in the sense that their subscriptions will not be heavy in supporting the defense of their interest and their socio-economic interest,
“Going forward the association would use the farm to assist members who will be approaching retirement by upskilling them, by developing them so that they get some hands on stamina and skill that they would apply in time of retirement.”
ZEVI Centre also houses other projects that ZIMTA members can benefit from in the short term. These are the brick molding project that is meant to ensure that those teachers who are building or constructing houses manage to buy bricks at a discounted rate from the association. In the near future the hope was to see the centre hosting events for various other organizations and thereby creating more income for itself.
Speaking on future projects, Dr Ndlovu said a solar power plant was on the cards.
“We are looking forward to investing more by finding partners that can assist ZIMTA in establishing a solar farm. There are so many enquiries that have come through and we are now trying to motivate those enquiries and ensure that the investment kicks in very soon. And how then does a member benefit we assure that when the investment comes members have an opportunity of getting cheaper resources in terms of loans that can be extended to them or cheaper money for construction, that way we will have gotten resources from the solar farm which obviously will be feeding onto the national grid selling that electricity generated from the solar and that money generated will be circulated amongst our members.”
The acquisition of the ZEVI farm originated from a national conference resolution which was formulated in 2013 at the Harare International Conference Centre. The resolution was that the association needed to invest in alternative instruments that could generate other soutrces of revenue for the union and put less reliance on member subscriptions. This eventually gave birth to ZEVI in 2014. ZIMTA is the largest and most professional teacher Trade union in Zimbabwe.