Teachers Want US$72m

Last week the government sold 900,000 carats of stockpiled diamonds worth more than US$72 million at Harare International Airport.

The auction was the first of two exports Zimbabwe has been allowed to make following a July agreement with the diamond industry watchdog, Kimberley Process (KP), Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai described the sale as a “historic” development for a country which has struggled to shake off a decade-long economic crisis.

Progressive Teachers  Union of  Zimbabwe  (PTUZ) president, Takavafira Zhou said it was unfortunate  that government was shifting goal posts when  it had initially promised that as soon as the sale of diamonds began, its first  priority would be salaries for civil servants who include teachers.

“The issue is very clearer that we want wage increases for our members. The government indicated to us that they were waiting for the sale of diamonds and now that the process has started, we expect them to honour us”

Zhou said:  “We understand that some government ministers are now saying the money is not enough. It’s unfortunate because we will not regard such misleading innuendos.”

Zimbabwe teachers earn below US$200 per month, but are demanding at a minimum of US$500.Teachers and other civil servants began receiving salaries in US dollars after the formation of the unity government in February 2008.

The country’s public education system, once considered the best on the continent, has crumbled over the last decade, with up to 15 pupils sharing a textbook. Teachers have left the job or moved overseas in search of better pay.